5 Unpopular Reasons to Jump into Babywearing with Both Feet

5 Unpopular Reasons to Baby WearI hate being wrong. Such a shame it happens SO often. You’d think I’d be used to it by now, but it still stings! When I posted a video recently on Facebook of how I used a ring sling at church to make life easier, I wasn’t really trying to teach anything, but I was planning on making some teaching videos (and had some from three years ago that I had just never gotten around to posting, even though they were edited and ready to go). I’m not really going to bother any more.

I Got a Degree from Google

In a world where everyone online acts like an expert, there are true experts coming out and finding us rookies and putting us in our places. And like I said, no matter how gentle and loving the correction, it still stings a little bit. When I got an email from a concerned babywearing expert who had caught my video, I felt beaten down. She said I had demonstrated an unsafe hold and didn’t want me to teach incorrect methods or draw undue negative attention in the tenuous political climate surrounding babywearing in our culture. I didn’t even know the government was scrutinizing babywearing.But I definitely felt scrutinized. And I deserved it. It’s been ten years since I read anything about babywearing, and it really isn’t the kind of thing I should be making up on my own. So I spent an hour doing research and watching others’ videos and learning about the TICKS safe carry acronym and safe positioning in the ring sling. And I’m a humbler bumble. Check out this old photo of my first baby, aptly titled on my computer “hanging out in the kitchen in a ring sling:”hanging out in the kitchen in a ring slingAy yi yi. I’m checking my inbox now for the tirades. As much as I love self-deprecating photos, especially the icky crackers and O cereal on the counter ten years ago, that’s not really what I wanted to talk about today. I admit that I didn’t know the first thing about safe carries in a sling, at least in that picture. (Now I know the first thing but apparently not the second, third or fourth. At least I get a gold star for improvement! My excuse is just that I had outdated information – this is totally where I learned from, and it’s still recommended on that site. Like many medical professionals, it seems Dr. Sears, like me, has forgotten to keep up with current safer trends.) But I can’t always be wrong, right? Turns out I have a little beef with some of the other trains of thought I discovered in my babywearing wanderings through the web last week.

I Still Think I’m Right About This

Newborn Gabe in Moby WrapI always told people one of the reasons I loved babywearing was how I could allow my baby to interact with the world. I liked that they could see people’s faces and hear adult conversation; in fact, many times I surmised that one reason my oldest was so verbally precocious (and remains that way as a fourth grader with a seventh grade reading level) was because he was part of that adult world so early, so often, and so verbally. I was constantly explaining to him what I was doing, and he could see it all.I had no idea there was controversy about that. I’ve learned that many babywearing folks strongly believe that babies and older children should only be worn facing the parent, never facing out. There is a very valid argument, and one I’ve quoted for a decade, that front carry packs that cause a baby to hang, putting all the pressure of their body weight on their pelvis, are very bad for baby’s hip development. It’s call hip dysplasia, and I cringe when I see babies dangling in front of their mommies or daddies. But that’s not why some in the babywearing community think forward-facing carries are a no-no, even in an ergonomically correct carrier. They think that if the baby is facing the world and cannot have the option of turning his head into the parent to block out all the commotion, that it’s unfairly overstimulating, and actually harmful. (sources: 1, 2, 3, 4) I’m just not in that camp. I’m super passionate about babywearing and will tell anyone that they should get a sling, wrap, or carrier (that properly positions baby’s hips), but my reasons go way beyond just “bonding.”

5 Reasons I {Heart} Babywearing – Even if Other People Disagree!

party food with help from a Moby1. Babywearing is practical. It allows parents to get something done with their hands without a needy infant crying (or needy toddler for that matter!). Research says babies aren’t able to manipulate parents (at least until 6 mos. but likely more like 12-18), that their wants and needs are the same. If they want to be held, it’s a need parents should be fulfilling. But that doesn’t mean nothing should get cooked or cleaned!Moby wrap in apple orchard2. It’s a great way to shop and be out and about without juggling strollers and cumbersome infant carseats. Again, practical, but not as its primary or singular purpose.Bonding with baby in a Moby Wrap3. Babywearing fills a need and promotes closeness. Yep, that’s called bonding, and it’s a fantastic reason for babywearing. But I just don’t buy that it’s the only reason people should do it.screenshot newborn Moby4. Babywearing generally promotes happier babies, less crying, and thus more content parents. It’s very calming for all parties involved, whether at home or out and about. (source)Floating Head First Christmas Moby Wrap 15. Babywearing helps children learn. I bet I read just this article ten years ago, and I can’t imagine that it’s not true, whether it’s the current popular train of thought or not – when a baby is near their parents, interacting, seeing others’ faces, listening to conversation, rather than just being set down in a bouncy chair, they’re learning valuable interpersonal skills. Sure, exploring toys and having tummy time and all that physical manipulation of their world is very important too and is vital to learning how to be a human being, but there’s room for a balance of both, which naturally shifts more toward baby manipulating their own world as they get older (and heavier) and attain skills like sitting up independently. And if the doesn’t want to see the world anymore, they just fall asleep.

Is Babywearing More for the Baby or the Parent?

How to cook with a 5mo in a ring slingIt’s both, of course – but I don’t think we need to feel selfish if we just want to cook dinner, put some things away, or, God forbid, go to the bathroom without a child screaming in the background. It’s okay to love babywearing because it’s convenient for you, mamas. It’s okay to embrace a sling, wrap, or ergonomic carrier so that life can continue moving, because it’s a win-win.Unlike plopping baby down in a swing or in front of a screen, where quality of learning is questionable, you can be productive while bonding with and teaching your baby, just by being you. You don’t have to stress out about every word, every interaction – because there are more interactions, more words in general, and your baby is watching everything and learning about the world from a perspective equal to that of an astronaut studying Earth for the first time from space.Facebook 5 Unpopular Reasons to Baby Wear
Why do you wear your baby? Or why have you not tried it?
Mamas, if you’re one of those who says, “But my baby just doesn’t like to be worn!” this babywearing tips post (with a video!) is for you!

Babywearing Resources

35 thoughts on “5 Unpopular Reasons to Jump into Babywearing with Both Feet”

  1. Hi there! I am looking into getting a carrier for my 4 month old. I’m debating between the boba and the ergo 360. Not sure about the facing out part as he gets a little older. What’s your take on facing out wards and do you have a preference between boba or ergo? Thanks ahead of time for any help!!

    1. Hi Dana!
      I love facing my kids out in a wrap and sometimes a ring sling, but I’ve not done it in the Ergo – I don’t think it’s designed for out, just facing the parent like a hug and being on the back (but the 360 might be different). I wouldn’t think it would remain ergonomic for the child!

      I’ve tried the Ergo and the Tula, but not the Boba, so I am no help for your comparison, sorry! I can say that all 3 are well loved by many moms, and the 2-shoulder style is so nice for your alignment. 🙂 Katie

  2. its nice to see you updating your knowledge and spreading the babywearing love!! I just want to poit out that the babywearing educators and the CPSC’s and the BCIA’s major concern with the facing out position is that if babies fall aSleep, their heads can drop forward with nothing to rest on placing them in the dangerous chin To chest position causing positional asphyxiation. Again, facing out can be done properly, but I thought I should add this in to this wonderful article and discussion because it truly is a safety concern. I also want to add that I’ve worn all 3 my babies for various reasons all in different carriers, different positions, in different ways and I’ve never felt that wearing the baby facing in prevented them from seeing or participating in anything I was doing, and I really feel that wearing babies facing out is the innocent product of “adultacizing” babies. It’s an assumption that babies will get enjoyment from this face to face interaction out in the world because it is so important and crucial to us as moms!! And that is an innocent mistake (I need this socialization and I do it this way therefor my baby must have the same needs). But science is showing that it is not always best for their brain development. I often encourage people to face baby out at times when they are at home and baby is surrounded by familiar faces. Watering the garden, playing with older children etc. (like most of your pictures ❤️) and I often deter them from doing it in places like the grocery store. Thanks for the article! If you want to read more about babywearing safety and my private practice helping moms and babies with special needs please check out my blog www.closeathandbaby.wordpress.com.

  3. If you can get a soft-structured carrier or a woven wrap, a back carry one the baby sits up on their own is a great way to have the best of both worlds. The baby can easily look around and take in their surroundings and then if they feel overwhelmed or tired, they just lay their head on your back and go to sleep.

  4. I loved my sling. A basic ring sling that I got at a LA Leche meeting. My boys (now 14, 17 and 21) loved the sling. I wore them until I just couldn’t anymore. Usually about 18 months. I started Co sleeping with my 2nd because yes, I needed sleep and could nurse in my sleep. Each child nursed longer than the last… 2 months (only because stupid Dr had me back on pill and I dried up), 9 months, 14 months.
    I have used my sling with friends babies, nephews, etc. I love my sling!!

  5. I am an enthusiastic ring sling user! I like the Maya Wrap, which does not have padded edges like the Dr. Sears sling, and I’m wondering if the padding helps grip the baby so that the sling doesn’t have to cover as much?

    My first child had several months of kangaroo carry, facing out. I didn’t feel safe doing that with my second because she wouldn’t keep her legs folded–she has been a bouncing type since the last month in utero–so I was afraid she would pop out! We kind of gradually transitioned from her being on my chest to being on my hip, always facing me. It seems to me that she can still look around quite a bit, by turning her head.

    My primary use for the sling is outside the home. Walking around the neighborhood or riding public transit, it’s a zillion times easier than a stroller. (We live in a hilly place with lots of uneven sidewalks and steps.) At events, it’s nice to have baby up at face level and have my hands free. When I’m cooking at home, I usually get another family member to take charge of the baby or get her playing on the kitchen floor, but when I set up food for church receptions the sling is very useful–I do end up kind of putting her around to my back more than usual for that, and I feel like she’s always trying to lean out backward as shown in your photo, so I end up leaning way forward to keep her in place.

  6. I like using my Moby wrap, but have a couple issues with it–
    1. It’s a little hard to put on (especially in a parking lot before shopping.)
    2. It’s HOT. I can only wear for a little while til I’m sweaty! (not so pleasant when out and about as well!)
    Thanks for the tips and info!! Will give it another try when Baby #3 gets here!
    (Oh– I have also worn the Moby in a “pre-born-baby wearing” style to ease the bump weight late in my pregnancy– worked well! Until I got too hot, of course.)

    1. Rachel,
      True that they can get hot! I am in Michigan so that’s not a problem 7-8 mos. of the year though. 🙂

      I have two right now, one borrowed, and the borrowed one is markedly thicker than the other – might be something to check out too, if you can get a thinner one second hand or something.

      For the parking lots – I put it on before I leave the house, actually, and just wear it like clothing all day! That probably sounds terrible if it makes you so hot, but there are days when I have it on from breakfast until dinner…

      🙂 Katie

    2. Have you looked into a K’tan? They are kinda prewrapped and have a mesh option that shouldn’t be as hot. My SIL loved them with her oldest.

    3. UPDATE: a year later, found the answer with baby #3– Infantino Sash “Mei Tai”. Cheaper than the Moby wrap and the padded straps feel GREAT on my shoulders! Baby #3 is a whopper (5 months and almost 20 lbs!!), but I feel most of his weight around the lower straps, not the shoulder straps (even though the tie method is about the same as with the Moby). A lot less fabric means mommy stays cool as well. Baby stays secure, even when power-walking the neighborhood. WINNER!

  7. I tried it with both of my babies, and couldn’t make it work. Both of them, especially the second, got increasingly fussy if worn (or held very close) for long stretches of time. Not to mention, I got tired and sore holding them for very long.

    I wondered if they just didn’t like the body heat, because we both always got hot and sweaty very quickly, and they calmed down immediately when I set them down (if I was nearby).

    And I wondered if their size had anything to do with it – they were born at 10+ and nearly 13lbs. respectively, and have continued to be almost or totally off the growth charts as they’ve aged.

    1. Wow Tif, 13 lbs at birth???? Holy wowza! That could certainly have something to do with it. My mom tells me that they had to buy a stroller for me in a store when I was a fairly young infant because I didn’t like to be held either – so as long as baby is happy not being held, sounds like it wasn’t for you (at least for long stretches). 🙂 Katie

  8. I wanted to baby wear so badly and tried with all four of my children with a few different slings but inevitably my back would start hurting after 15 minutes of carrying them, even when they were just a few weeks old. Guess I just have a weak back. Always felt guilty like I should have tried harder or should have dealt with the pain. It would have been so helpful because I had extremely clingy babies/toddlers that wanted to be held constantly till 2 1/2-3 years old!

    1. Oh, sad Sharon! But what are you going to do if you hurt? How did you end up carrying them if they were fussy, or did they just have to be set down (or you sat down with them)? I think the one-shoulder slings are tough on the back, but my Moby felt so comfortable. But I don’t have back problems. Sorry it didn’t work out for you! 🙁
      Katie

  9. Very interesting indeed! I agree with others that basically say…do what is best for you and your little one.

    I had never seen a sling until this past year…and I thought, what a wonderful idea. I wished they were known 50 years ago!!

    I have been increasingly disturbed with (nearly) everyone carrying their babies around in a seat…no cuddling, no personal touch, etc.

    It was so good to recently see someone actually carrying their baby like we did 40+ years ago. No, not easy, and we did have to put them down often…but NO carrier seats!

    Even as a great-grandmother, I enjoy your posts and ideas and pass some on to my granddaughter. 🙂

    1. April,
      I feel the same way about the seats when I see babies carried into church in them – great for wintertime to keep baby warm, but then parents will leave them in there so long. I think “your baby is awake! Don’t you want to hold them?” But that’s just me. 🙂

      So fun to hear about you reading KS as a great-grandmother – I bet you and my own grandma, my kids “Gigi” for Great Greatmother, would get along just great!
      🙂 Katie

  10. How funny! I didn’t know facing out was controversial either. I always carried my first son facing out, who is now 4, since he could hold his head up! From a very early age he was not happy unless he could be taking in the surroundings 🙂 To this day he is super intelligent, observant and alert. Seems to me people worry too much. We do what we feel is best for a family, not necessarily what the different parenting camps out there advocate. our family is probably a mish mosh 🙂 Baby wearing is the best of baby worlds, since it is good for baby and good for parents (and did any one mention how much easier it is to pack a baby carrier than a giant stroller??)

  11. Oh my gosh–seriously??? I can’t believe their “arguments.” I’m with you, Katie, 100%. I’m about 9-10 years further down the road than you and I have intelligent teens/tweens who are very comfortable engaging in intelligent conversation with people of all ages on a variety of topics. Economics anyone? So, rest assured, you’re right. Babies facing out, when done in a safe manner for their hip alignment, are happy, social babies who learn to relate to their surroundings. And if they start to feel overstimulated, it is so very easy to turn them to the side or tummy and pull more sling around to shield them from the stimulus and give them a break. Rocket science, I tell you! LOL I used a Maya Wrap ring sling most of the time and I loved how versatile it was. I could carry them for years in that thing and it’s still as good as new. 🙂

  12. My oldest is 15 years old now and I got a ring sling for her when she was an infant. I used it faithfully with her and my son who is now 13 years old. I never realized that baby carrying was controversial. I also nursed both kids until they were 2 years and we practiced co-sleeping. I needed sleep! I knew I was a bit different from my friends but never thought much about it. I didn’t use the internet much when they were little to see what was normal/not normal because I figured I was using the easy route! Who had the time to sit and wait for dial up!?! Not me!
    Interesting article though!

  13. 19 years ago I started using a sling with my 3rd child (wish I had known about them for children 1 and 2 and continued with children 3 and 4. It was the best thing I did and I’m encouraging my oldest daughter who is now expecting our first granddaughter to do the same.

  14. Hi Katie,

    As always, thanks for all the information. We’re due with our first in July, and so all of your recent baby posts have been very timely for me. 🙂 I think you mentioned that your Mom made the ring sling you used. Is there a pattern you can share for that? My mom sews and wants to make a ring sling for me.

    Thanks!
    Sarah

  15. I tried babywearing and quit; mostly because I have big babies (8, 9, and 10 lbs at birth) and scoliosis, with the areas that are worst in the mid/upper shoulders and low back. Right where straps and slings always rest. Bad combination! My SILs have evey baby carrier in existence between them; so I got to try them all. I wish it would have worked out; seems so much easier! I have just had to be creative about finding ways to get stuff done with my tag along.

    1. I literally feel your pain. I wore my babies, but at the time I started, more than 16 years ago, there were not as many options available as today. Babywearing was something I saw at homeschool conferences, and occasionally at Whole Foods. It was NOT mainstream at all. I am guilty of the first picture in this post, where the baby is hanging out of the back. For me, it was a storebought Dr. Sears sling. Later, I went on to making my own, but they all threw my back way out of alignment, and pinched nerves to where my hand would tingle on the side where the weight of the baby was most concentrated — even if I spread the thing out over my shoulders and all of that.
      Later, when I was pregnant with the fourth who would survive to birth (there were lots of miscarriages), but my toddler still needed his on-mommy time, I shelled out for a $145 at the time, Didymos sling. It’s a good sling, and distributes the weight better, because it’s on both shoulders, but it was complicated to use.
      Between more than 14 years of co-sleeping, including night nursing with my arm up so I could nurse on my side in bed, and the babywearing, my rhomboid muscle has given me fits, so that I have to remind myself frequently to do certain stretches.
      Of course, I would do it all again. If I ever have more babies, I would be more diligent about stretching, finding a truly ergonomic sling (my babies tend to be heavy, too), and not beat myself up for using a stroller sometimes. I mean, my youngest enjoys the ride!

  16. I wore both my babies out of necessity! Partly to get things done, but mostly because my colicky reflux kids needed to be “up” most of the day and my arms are just not made for holding up a baby ALL.DAY.LONG.

    I had no idea that baby-wearing was still considered controversial. Out here (pacific northwest), it’s just normal to see mamas and dads walking around with a baby attached to them. Carrying your baby against your body is as old as time and it’s a shame that so many western cultures have moved away from it.

  17. Yes! I completely agree. Most things I have embraced from the parenting world which are considered crunchy, co sleeping, breast feeding on demand, baby wearing, are because they make my life as a parent easier for me. The cognitive/emotional/health benefits are an added bonus really because (admittedly…selfishly) I chose to do these practices because I JUST WANTED THE BABY AND I TO STOP CRYING AND BE HAPPY, RESTED AND WELL FED! (I had a baptism of fire into parenthood but it did us all good in the end 🙂

    1. Amen. Every subsequent baby (I’m pregnant with our fourth) I’ve gotten more “crunchy,” more “attachment parent type,” and it’s not about them I’m afraid. It’s about me. I just don’t WANT to get up and get the baby in the middle of the night to nurse him, I want to sleep, dang it. So baby stays in bed. I don’t have enough hands to push a stroller and hold toddler hands, so baby goes in the carrier. I don’t want to spend tons of time making and spoon feeding homemade baby food, so baby-led weaning it is. And we’re all happier and better off for it 🙂

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