** Disclosure: this piece is written as an independent member of the babywearing community and in no way represents the views and interests of any organization or group living or dead so help me flying spaghetti monster **
A familiar scenario:
A mama needs a baby carrier. She is new to the world of wearing, sweet and innocent, metaphorically wide-eyed as a newborn fawn. She joins a babywearing group on Facebook. And she asks the inevitable question:
“I have a newborn/toddler/infant/troll beast and am new to wearing. What kind of carrier do I need?”
And educators start reaching for the hard liquor again, because they deal with it every.damn.day. Tula, tula, tula. There is no carrier but Tula. I love my Tula! You need a Tula! You need a Tula! You and you and you and you need a Tula!
Newsflash, peeps: You may not need a Tula.
Another disclaimer: “need” is a strong word. You can wear your baby in a tablecloth and he will be just as happy as he will be in the tasmanian devil fur wrap conversion. But we’re assuming here that you need/want an SSC.
Why do educators start reaching for the hard liquor when sixteen people recommend a Tula? There are lots of SSCs in the world, and those SSCs fit different caregivers and different babies in different ways. They have different features and different fits. Every mama/daddy and baby pair will not be best served by the much-lauded Tula. A good educator rarely recommends a specific brand, but instead gives parents a range of products that will fit their wants and needs.
And you don’t know that until you ask a lot of questions, and, ideally, try a lot of different carriers. If there’s a wrap library around, that new mama needs to get to one. Barring that, there’s a whole lot of questions that need answered.
Tula has lately specifically said that only their infant insert works in their carrier. No rolled blanket tricks allowed. So if you want to get around a possibly hot insert, Tula won’t work for you.
Tula has also lately said that the waistbands of their carriers should not be rolled or cinched to accommodate smaller babies. That’s because mamas keep asking what carrier to get … and getting told a Tula. Because they consider their baby a toddler, they buy a toddler size that’s too large. They end up with a baby that’s got hyperextended legs and a too-tall base. They ask educators for help to make the carrier fit. Uhhhh …. not much they can do. Rage abounds, all around. Of course, if the carrier fit in the first place, this wouldn’t have happened, but it’s all too common on babywearing boards and groups.
Tula doesn’t allow for hip carries. It doesn’t allow for crossed straps. There are some things Tulas just don’t do well. And that’s okay. No carrier does everything well. There is no One Carrier to Rule Them All.
The problem: when people who love, love, love their Tulas treat them as such – especially when they haven’t tried any other SSCs out there.
Mamas have begun to feel that other SSCs, especially mainstream Ergos and Lillebabies, are second-rate. Because of the Tula push, they may feel like real wearers need Tulas. No, no one means for that to happen. But it’s happening nonetheless.
Tulas also happen to be on the more expensive end of SSCs. Ergos, Infantino Unions, Action Baby Carriers, Pikkolos, and others are cheaper. Cost is a significant factor in a parent’s ability to wear, and we need to be aware of that. Someone started a GoFundMe to buy herself a Tula the other day. Truth. The madness needs to end.
So Tula-lovers, fangirls, it’s cool to be a fangirl. It’s cool to collect. But realize your chosen obsession may not be right for everyone. Ask some questions before you make a recommendation.Give some options. And maybe that mama will end up needing a Tula. But maybe not.
You may need a Tula. You may not. But ask some questions first. Focus on the babywearing love – not the brand love. And remember: a worn baby is a happy baby, in a tablecloth or a Tula.
And as usual, if you feel this was written specifically about you, you need to evaluate how you deal with both your narcissism and your internet rage.