Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Oh How I LOVE a Back Carry!

I love babywearing. Plain and simple. And I especially love it when you get to that point in your baby's development and your babywearing ability when you can back carry.  Back carrying takes babywearing to the next level in my mind.  It gives you even more freedom to move around and get things done and still have your baby or toddler safe and secure on you in a carrier.  And it gives your baby a whole new view of their world! Babywearing is of course a skill and does have a learning curve to it and back carrying takes some practice to get it just right.  Using an appropriate baby carrier is always the first step and here are my opinions of the three kinds of carriers I use for back carries:  a soft-structured carrier (the ERGObaby), a Mei Tai, and a woven, non-stretchy wrap.

A soft structured carrier is a great option for back carrying.  There are some excellent carriers on the market these days in this category, but the most popular one by far is probably still the ERGObaby.  The Ergo has been on the market for almost 7 years and has been tweaked a bit here and there, but still has the original structural design that is tried and true and ergonomically correct for babies.  Here is what the ERGObaby website has to say about it:
ERGObaby’s baby carrier design supports a natural sitting position for babies, eliminating compression of the spine and hips that can be caused by unsupported suspension. The baby carrier also balances the baby's weight to parents' hips and shoulders, and alleviates physical stress for the parent.
I have used an Ergo for both my kids and as far as wearing them on my back comfortably for LONG periods of time (anything over an hour) and also for traveling, I think the Ergo is probably the most comfortable and convenient carrier to use or take with you.  I wore my 28 pound, 23 month old daughter in it today for a 2 hour babywearing walk and never felt like it was causing stress on any part of my back, hips or shoulders. And she was so comfy in it that little Miss "I NEVER nap in the morning" slept for a good hour in it!

My one criticism of the Ergo is the shorter body on it. For most babies the back comes up to just at or under the armpits or shoulder blades.  I personally would not use it for back carries until my child was at least 9-12 months old and did not run the risk of arching back in the carrier and at least had better muscle development around the spine.  This is just my personal opinion, the manufacturer states that you can use it from 6 months. And again all of this is dependent on your baby and all baby's develop differently.  The ERGO does come with a sleeping hood for baby, but I find it a little hard to put the hood up if baby falls asleep while you are carrying them on your back and always end up asking for help with it.

Our first ERGObaby Carrier, DS is 9.5 months old.  

If our looking for something that has all the same benefits of the ERGO, as in supporting a natural sitting position and balancing baby's weight to the parents hips and shoulders, but has less buckles and snaps, then a Mei Tai or Asian-Style baby carrier may be what you are looking for.  The Mei Tai is a traditional baby carrier used in a lot of Asian countries and there are many different brands and styles now available in the North American market.

All Mei Tais have the same general structure of a rectangle body panel with two shorter waist straps and two longer shoulder straps.  The Mei Tai is a very versatile carrier and can generally be used from newborn to toddlerhood and as a front, hip or back carrier.  It is also a very easy carrier to get on and off as a back carry.   I wore my daughter in our Mei Tai for a 4-day Folk Festival adventure last year and seriously could not have survived that weekend without it. We would walk from stage to stage and up and down a HUGE hill multiple times a day and each time I would have to get her into the carrier on my back and then down again and it was fast and fantastic.  I also really like that a Mei Tai is essentially a one size fits all carrier and can fit me, my husband or even grandma when she wants to try it out!  One of the things that some people do not like about Mei Tais is crossing the straps across your chest when doing a back carry.  There are other options to this though and tying the straps like a back pack (under your arms) is one.  My new favourite Mei Tai at the moment is one I got from my good friend at Cosy Baby, Happy Mommy.  She makes the shoulder straps of her Mei Tais slightly padded AND extra wide making them very comfortable to wear when crossed in the front-even if you are bigger in the chest like me! 

DD and I in our Cosy Baby Happy Mommy Mei Tai-notice the wide straps!
And finally what I have found the be the most addictive of the baby carriers and my go-to carriers most days now for back carries....the woven wrap!

I will fully admit that I did not use my beautiful Storchenwiege woven wrap to do a back carry more than once or twice with my first born.  I never fully got the hang of it and could not get it tightened enough to make me feel comfortable wearing him in it on my back.  Like I said before babywearing is a learned skill and I guess at that point I still had a lot to learn!  When I started my business (I own Natural Urban Mamas), I realized that I would have to get a lot better at this and have since taken a Babywearing Educator course and with the help of my incredible mentor, Arie Brentnall-Compton of Tadpoles and Butterflies, I have discovered how much I LOVE, love, love doing back carries with woven wraps. 

For one thing, these carriers are beautiful!  The quality and craftsmanship of most of the European woven wraps is unparalleled and one can go a bit crazy for these carriers (I now have 5!).  And the versatility is also amazing, pretty much any carry you want to do can be accomplished with a wrap.  And there are different kinds of back carries you can do as well.  The most common is the Ruck carry and this can also sometimes be the most elusive for some people, but once it is mastered it is simply awesome and can be done quickly and easily regardless of where you are (you can often see me doing it in the parking lot before heading into the grocery store!).  I also like the Secure High Back Carry with a wrap as it provides 2 extra layers of support and the straps are securely crossed at your sternum. 
Our Babyette Gauze Wrap tied in a Secure High Back Carry.
Rucksack carry in our Ellevil Jade Woven Wrap
Back carrying in a wrap is a learned skill and that would be the one drawback with these carriers.  If you do not want to invest the time or effort into learning to do this kind of carrying, then a wrap may not be for you for back carrying.  If you do want to learn more, I have attached a few resources at the bottom of this post and I would also suggest you find a local babywearing group or meeting and get some advice or hands-on instruction from a seasoned babywearer or babywearing educator.

Like the Mei Tai and the soft structured carrier, using a wrap for back carrying puts baby in the right, seated, knees above hips position and provides you the wearer with properly distributed weight across both your shoulders and your hips.  And in the end that is what is needed when doing any kind of back carrying, what you choose to use as your carrier is dependent on personal preference, lifestyle and often budget.  I have used all three of these types of carriers with my kids and think that there is a time and place for each one and I personally like to switch it up and wear a different one every time!

For more info on how to do back carrying with a woven wrap see the following resources:

And there you have it everyone, my take on back carrying with the three main types of carriers designed for just that purpose.

Happy Babywearing,

Friday, August 27, 2010

Moby Wrap Review

I was so happy when a friend gave me a Moby wrap with my second baby... I had heard so many good things about it and it seemed like the perfect newborn carrier.  I was not disappointed!  While it took me a few tries to get the wrap tight enough the first few times, once I had it down it was easy.

The Moby wrap is soft, versatile, and can be a lifesaver with two small children!  My baby loved being snuggled up to my chest peacefully napping while I chased her brother or grocery shopped.  I found that if I put the Moby on before leaving the house, that I could just take her out of the carseat when I got to the store, put her in, maybe tighten it if needed, and be ready to go without having to try to put it on in the parking lot without dragging it in the dirt. 

The Moby wrap is, in my opinion, the BEST infant carrier.  I have ring slings, which I love for 6 months and up, but for new little babies I just love the Moby's softness, the snugness with a floppy little newborn, and how comfortable it is for long periods.  After about 9 months or 20 lbs I would rather use a ring sling or mei tai, but for the newborn period, the Moby ROCKS.  I traded the one I had with my daughter for another carrier, but I am definitely going to get another Moby wrap before our next baby!  I think it is a baby *must have*.

 I wrote this review for Viewpoints... if you write 10 reviews before August 31st you get a $10 Amazon gift card. :)  I don't use a lot of baby products, so at first I had trouble figuring out what to review, but I started off with this and then reviewed my camera, some toys we've been given, etc. :)   * Post contains affiliate links *

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Wearing a Hospitalized Child

I do not have very much experience babywearing in the hospital, and to be honest, I hope I don't have an opportunity for more.

But I think this might be a helpful topic to discuss, like thinking through what your preferences would be if you needed to have a c-section, or thinking about what your course of action would be if you have trouble breastfeeding, and who you'd contact.

I don't like thinking about kids in the hospital, having a c-section, or having breastfeeding difficulties, but I do think it can be a good idea to think through some scenarios and discuss options.  Plus, I'm looking forward to hearing YOUR experiences, if any, with babywearing in the hospital!

 My son Nathan was hospitalized for 10 days (story here, update #1, update #2) due to Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome.  For most of the time, he had an IV in his arm, and for part of the time he was on dialysis (peritoneal dialysis, so through a tube inserted in his stomach).  He also had lots of monitors, on his toe, on his chest, all over, for much of the time.

We started out at a small local ER, and I wore him in my ring sling into the ER, in the waiting room, and for some of the initial things, like having his temperature taken.  Once we settled into a room, he hung out on the bed and calmly watched tv... a testament both to how little tv he watches, and to how sick and lethargic he was.

The photo above is of the only time I wore him during the whole hospitalization.  He was feeling very lethargic and disoriented, and out of the blue said "mei tai?"  At that point he only had an IV, so it wasn't hard to put him on.  I did a front carry both because it gave more face time and snuggliness, and also because his platelets were dangerously low.  I have never dropped a baby or child while putting them in a back carry, and he is generally very good about cooperating when being put on, but I still opted for the easier front carry.  He snuggled in the mei tai for at least ten minutes, and it was a wonderful connection for both of us.

The night that this photo was taken, we were waiting to be transported three hours away to a PICU at a hospital that could do pediatric dialysis.  Once we got to the PICU he was on far too many monitors for holding him to be easy, far less wearing, and he was also much more lethargic and did not ask to be held or worn, although he did want me to lie next to him on the bed and snuggle.

Wearing also made the hospital experience easier in that Micah was able to pop Miriam into either the ring sling or our HugaMonkey and still have hands for diaper bags and water bottles.  I'm sad I didn't get any pictures of him wearing her while there... it was good for me to see that she was doing fine and getting snuggles, even if she was getting less mama than usual.

So... do you have any babywearing in the hospital experiences or stories to share?