Thursday, May 28, 2015

Baby Wearing Part 2a: Healthy Baby Wearing

Before continuing on about my journey on baby wearing, and specifically with woven wraps, I thought I'd share what healthy baby wearing is.

There are many more carriers out there than even 5 years ago, or at least they are more widely known. The internet has definitely expanded the reach of markets across the globe, and fans of Tula, Beco, Ergo and Kinderpack have been posting pictures of themselves with their babes and the carrier with the print they oh-so-love.

But there are still some people who are risking their baby's health when carrying in certain ways. This is a touchy subject, as many informed parents wonder if they should ever approach another parent who may be wearing their child in a less-than-optimal position. On one hand, baby wearing is great so perhaps we should leave well enough alone. On the other hand, many of us say that if we were informed by another well-meaning parent, we would be grateful!

So, my passive-agressive way is to blog about it. =P Not like I know anyone who does so incorrectly anyway, but if you're baby wearing and unsure about the position, or looking to start and are learning the ropes, this post is for you.


Firstly, why wear a baby? We can leave them in a stroller or put them in the crib or bouncer... but we all know there are many, many moments when babies just want to be held. And that's natural! They were in a small, cozy, dark space for so long and all of a sudden projected into a loud world with their limbs flailing. For at least the first 4 months, they will want to keep being in a place which simulates the environment they were in for 9 months. That's understandable, isn't it? Even after they get to know the world as we know it, there's a lot to take in and learn, and being near us, their parents, is a refuge.

Here is a post by Babywearing International which gives the benefits of baby wearing. Here are my bullet points of the page:

Happy Babies - they like being held! Great for colicky babies
Healthy Babies - being physically close helps baby regulate own physical responses, especially premies/special needs
Confident Parents - learning to read cues
Loving Caregivers - babies come to recognize their caregivers
Comfort and Convenience - can go about chores and tasks more easily


You can refer to the poster above as provided by Health Canada, or you can learn to remember your TICKS!

In view at all times
Close enough to kiss
Keep chin off the chest
Supported back

Further explanations on the TICKS poster below. Click here for a link to the full version.

Note: "Supported back" used to say "Supported straight back" (emphasis mine) but for a baby, a curved back is more natural to their growth. Keep that baby's spine curved!

Kristen sleeping in the Moby while I eat... something. LOL.
But note the TICKS!


Here is what Health Canada has put up as warnings. My own thoughts in italics below each point taken from that page.

Serious injuries and deaths can occur when:
  • the wearer trips and the baby falls out of the sling or carrier
    • Falling out can also happen to babies in a stroller, and particularly to babies who are in infant seats precariously placed on top of grocery carts. I've seen so many babies balanced that way, and so many kids not strapped into their stroller and pretty much falling out! I don't see how a sling or carrier is more dangerous.
  • the product malfunctions or its hardware breaks
    • This can happen - and has happened - in strollers as well. This is, however, why it is SO important to get a high quality carrier. Woven wraps are not simply "another piece of fabric" or a table cloth or a bed sheet. I'll get into it in another post but there is much more care that goes into a woven wrap and soft structured carriers!
  • the baby falls over the side of the sling or out through the leg openings
    • Which is why learning how to use the carrier properly is necessary. As I mentioned before, I've seen babies and older children practically falling out of their stroller due to manufacturer's lack of foresight (Graco had a tray without a middle piece to meet the stroller so kids - unstrapped, mind you! - would slip right down and through) or simply due to parents not buckling their children in. No one has cried out "Danger!" on strollers.
  • the baby is positioned incorrectly, causing suffocation against the product's fabric, the wearer's body, or their own chest
    • I refer you back to the TICKS! Along with that is keeping the child's legs in the "M" or "frog-legged" position, which will be discussed below.

So what does unhealthy baby wearing look like? Tune in to my next post! And before you think I'm judging, I'll be posting up pictures of my unhealthy baby wearing. Most times it's just a matter of learning the correct way. Not all carrier manufacturers will tell you the right way to carry, just the right way to use their product. So let's all learn and promote healthy babies!

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Baby Wearing Part 1: My Journey

Long time no post! Sorries and apologies... life happened and I fell off the blogging wagon. Again. Le sigh.

And life goes on. It's just blogging after all!

If we know each other on Facebook, you probably know that I've been swimming into the world of woven wraps. I've used baby carriers before and still have one, but after reading about and trying woven wraps, I really wish I had known about them 5 years ago!

I won't go terribly into depth here, but my baby wearing journey is as follows:

Moby wrap
Pouch sling
Britax carrier
Tula (standard)
Leo Storchenwiege (5/6)
Didymos Cotton Indio (6)
Didymos Hemp Indio (3)
Didymos Nino Rose (7 - was supposed to be a 5!)
Didymos Kurbis Wool (2)

L: Kristen kept nice and snuggly while I get to eat!
R: Kristen nursing while I spend time with Derek.

Why have I been switching over to wovens? Firstly, I love their versatility. I thought wraps were more like the Moby, which were hot to use even with my winter babies and so long - fabric was everywhere! That's why I went with the pouch sling, for quick ins and outs before my baby could walk, but I found it straining on the shoulder. I also couldn't use it after baby was a certain weight and size. Moby also has its limitations; even though it advertises use up to 35 lbs, many (including me) have found that it starts sagging after about 15 lbs of weight because of the stretch, requiring me to readjust and retie every 10-15 mins. Not a productive way to spend my time!

Derek at 8 months, about 18 lbs?
I then found out about the pouch sling, and I was really intrigued because it would allow me to  I could pop my baby in and out for quick trips to stores or when he was fussing and wanted out of the stroller. While it kept my hands free and was easy to put on, I found it strained my shoulder quite a bit and decided to stop using it.

Kristen snoozing from a walk, me imitating her.
I would NOT recommend outward-facing carrying.
When I found out I was expecting my second, The Britax carrier came out and I got really excited. I had heard that the Baby Bjorn was not the most comfortable due to insufficient lumbar support and spreading of the weight across larger portions of the wearer's body, like the shoulders and back. Britax addressed all of that and I was so excited to find a brand new one including the toddler insert for a fantastic price on Kijiji.

I used both the Moby and Britax with my second. Moby was during the infant months, Britax from about 4 months onward. It allowed me to breastfeed almost arms-free while I spent time with my toddler. We could read together, takes walks out, and I could do chores (hehe, if I wanted to!).

I learned about hip dysplasia not long after and decided I wasn't going to have my child outward-facing. I continued to use the Britax but would have Kristen facing inward, which she didn't appreciate as she wanted to look around. That was difficult to do with the padded structure of the Britax.
Kristen in a standard-sized Tula.
I didn't start looking into other carrier options until my second child was about 18 months and thought about the possibility of walking with her to pick up my eldest from school. I knew I'd need something more comfortable and, even better, could do a back carry. I came across the Tula, along with the Beco and others, and decided on the Tula for the possibility of carrying my eldest in it as well, since it has a larger panel than most.

I got the Tula, I loved the Tula, still love the Tula, but once I found out I was pregnant with my third, realized that I may need to somehow juggle three - three!! - kids at the same time and it would be great if I could wear the younger two and hold the older one's hand. I could get another Tula but they aren't recommended until an infant is 8 lbs and may still require an insert because infants are tiny and, as mentioned, Tula panels are large. Ideally a child's position will have the knees higher than the bum, but with a large panel and small legs, the legs will just stick straight out.

Tula sleepy dust!
I put the hood up afterwards to hold her head.
I saw a picture of a friend on Facebook wearing both her kids with wraps, a newborn and her toddler. I was in awe and completely intrigued. They looked so comfortable and happy. And so snuggly! But I didn't really consider wraps until I heard more moms recommending them in Facebook parenting groups. I finally took the plunge and goodness, is there a LOT to learn!

It's not only about how to use them, but once you start, everyone has different preferences, and there are a plethora of wraps available to meet everyone's preferences, no matter how nuanced. From thickness/thinness, breathability in summers to warmth in winter, grip to slipperiness, bounce/stretch to very little give... and all of those are put in consideration with who is wearing AND who is being worn. I'll describe more in the the dedicated wraps post, but carrying a newborn is different from a 6-month-old, which is different from a 1-yr-old, which is different from a toddler/walker, which is different from a preschooler (yes, you can carry preschoolers!). More support is needed with more weight, but walking kids may end up being in and out of wraps requiring quick ups/downs and even better, pre-tying. All of these are affected by the different weaves and fabric blends available along with what size is used.

Carrying Derek in my first attempt at a ruck carry with a
size 3 Didymos ETHI (Emerald Turquoise Hemp Indio).
Note: The right shows how inexperienced I am as his "seat" is coming undone!
With all that consideration comes the many brands offered, just like baby food - or say, buying gardening tools, or power tools. Each brand has their reason for distinction, as well as varying price tags. I've chosen to stick with Didymos, mainly because I love their patterns and colours and they aren't as expensive as some other brands. I know if I start dipping into other brands I'll be racking up wraps like crazy!

So that's it for now. I'll try to put up a stash shot of my carriers* and wraps for reference. =) Stay tuned for my next post on healthy baby wearing!

*If they aren't sold first