There are lot of baby carriers out there! Mamas and daddies and grammas and grandpas choose different types of carriers for all kinds of different reasons. It can be overwhelming for newbies gaze upon the vast, bewildering world of babywearing and decide what product might work best for them. Don’t worry: it’s all in English, if you live in an English-speaking country and are interacting with English speakers, though there’s a long tradition of babywearing borrowing/stealing/appropriating from non-English speaking cultures.
What shouldn’t you worry about? What your baby carrier might say about you – or more appropriately, what other people might think of you based on your carrier.
Bjorn or other narrow-based carrier: This says, “I want to wear my baby, and I found a way to do it!” Congratulations! You’re a real babywearer. I bet your baby is happy to be up close and cuddled, ready to see the world and interact with you. It could also say, I went with the carrier most familiar with me, or I got gifted this for free. Wear away! Want some help to make your bjorn more ergonomic? Try Joella’s trick.
Soft-structured carrier, like Ergo: This says, “I want to be close to my baby, and I found a way to do it!” Congratulations! You’re a real wearer. Once your baby is big enough, he probably likes going up on your back and looking at the world around him. It could also say, I went to Target and picked out what I liked, or I stalked for hours on an internet site to get just the print and color I wanted. Either way, your baby’s worn – and we love worn babies! Want to compare different SSCs? Try this handy chart.
Ring Sling: Ring slings say, “I decided a ring sling worked best for my baby and me.” You might be good at nursing or bottle-feeding in the carrier, and like the easy hip carries for babies who want to face outward. Maybe you think ring sling back carries are safe. Maybe you don’t. But you’re great at slinging, whatever you think, and your baby is happy. Need help with ring sling back carries? Listen to Jan at Sleeping Baby.
Pouch: Pouches are easy! As long as you get the right size, you picked the no-fuss option. Kiss that baby head and wear with pride! Make sure you adhere to TICKS and keep your baby close and kissable!
Mei Tai: This says, “I like mei tais.” Congratulations – you’re a babywearer! I bet your baby likes being worn on your front, back, and hip. Maybe this is your traditional cultural carrier, or maybe you bought it at Wal-Mart. Maybe it’s your go-to daddy carrier. However you picked it, wear it proud!
Stretchy Wrap: Stretchy wraps say, “I knew I wanted to be close to my baby from the very beginning, and I wanted something soft and cuddly.” Maybe you were gifted a Moby, or maybe you picked this out at – again – Target. Wear it tight like a tshirt, snuggle baby close, and remember: wearing is caring.
Woven Wrap: Woven wraps say, “I like woven wraps.” Maybe it’s your only carrier. Maybe it’s part of a giant stash. Maybe you’re a textile junkie, or you just wanted a Little Frog for quick and easy rebozos (which might be your traditional cultural carrier). Congratulations – and don’t let the long length (or short length) of fabric confuse you. Wear with pride, and high-five that lady in the Bjorn. You’re both wearing babies, and that’s the name of the game.
Want some help knowing when to put baby on your back? Here’s some information.
Itching to put that newbie up there but not sure how? Here’s why it’s not a great idea to backwrap a newborn, unless you’ve been doing it for years.
Want some help picking a carrier? Here’s a good place to start.
Need some help with hot-weather wearing? Try this link.
It’s important to emphasize process over product. So while it’s funny to joke about what our carriers say about us, it’s alienating and restricting to other people. We have to do our best to make sure mamas know they’re all real babywearers, and not slot people in restrictive categories. Wear on!
Any other questions? Check out the Facebook group Everyday Babywearing, which emphasizes process over product. We’re all wearers there!
Want to read more about babywearing and attachment parenting with a side of social justice? Like Manic Pixie Dream Mama on Facebook.