Making Babywearing Work For You

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In early November, an ad by the maker’s of Motrin sparked outrage among moms who felt that the ad was insulting to babywearing moms. If you haven’t seen the video, you can view it here.

I’ll just say that I thought the ad was poorly done. Although I wasn’t as offended as some were, the ad made me less likely to ever want to buy Motrin. I won’t buy J&J products, but I never did anyway. Generics are cheaper, and just as effective.

I did wear both my babies, but quite honestly, it had nothing to do with bonding and everything to do with convenience. I also breastfed both and I spent so much time doing that, I figured I had the bonding covered.

I wore my first child in a front carrier when I wanted to go outside and didn’t feel like getting the stroller out. I wore him when he was teething and fussy and didn’t want me to sit down. With him securely strapped into a Baby Bjorn, I had my hands free and his weight distributed evenly across my back. I could even work on dinner or clean my house, and he was content.

When my daughter was born, my son was just over two years old and at a very needy phase. With my Maya Wrap Sling, I could carry and breastfeed my infant hands free and still pay attention to my toddler or assist him with meals or change his diaper. Particularly when my daughter was going through a growth spurt, she would cluster feed, wanting to nurse every 30 to 45 minutes. With the aid of my sling, I could nurse her discreetly without having to stop what I was doing. Also, a couple of weeks after she was born, we had several days of very warm weather. It was simple to put her in the sling, stick a burp cloth, my keys and cell phone into the pocket on the sling, and take off for a walk along the water.

They are older now and I haven’t worn either of them in quite some time, but I can’t imagine those early days without my baby carriers.

I want to wear my baby, but it really does make my back hurt. What can I do?

Sometimes carrying your baby can be literally a pain in the neck (or the back or the shoulders). Here are a couple of things to keep in mind:

**Read the directions–It sounds silly, but double check the manual that came with your carrier to make sure you are wearing it correctly and that your baby is correctly positioned in it. My Maya Wrap took some getting used to, and at first, I was uncomfortable because I had it threaded wrong. With the adjustment, I was much more comfortable!
**Readjust the fit of your carrier. If you’re sure you have the carrier on correctly, make sure the straps fit your body correctly. Although my husband and I are roughly the same height, he always had to play with the straps on our Baby Bjorn after I wore it, to accommodate his broader back.
**Try a new carrier. Not all baby carriers are created equally and not everyone will have the same results. While I loved my Baby Bjorn, a friend never felt comfortable using one. My very first carrier was the Infantino Slingrider, and it always made my back hurt, but I’ve seen other women wearing them successfully. Personally, I never liked carriers that positioned the baby lower, at my waist, instead of higher on my chest, because that position strained my lower back.
**Try a new position. Part of the reason I liked my Maya Wrap so much was because it was versatile. I used it to breastfeed my daughter hands free as a very young baby, and then switched to carrying her on my hip as she got bigger. When my son was two, I used it to carry him across my back when we needed to cross a busy street. If your baby is very large or very small, or if you are very tall or very short, you may have better success with a different position. Check the product manual for suggestions.
**Reevaluate. If you’ve done all these things and your back is still hurting, you may not be able to use a baby carrier. Not everyone can. If your baby is large for his age and you have herniated disks in your back, you’re better off with the baby in a stroller. And despite what the Motrin ad says, there is no such thing as “good pain.” If it hurts, don’t do it and save yourself the pill popping.

Did you wear your babies? What carrier would you recommend?

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5 thoughts on “Making Babywearing Work For You”

  1. Yes! Great advice. I have worn my babies (am still wearing my 30 lb 9 month old when she lets me) and i have used almost every type of carrier out there. I loved my pouch style sling (baby would sit cross-legged facing forward) the most. But i do have to say that i have gotten the most use out of my ring sling–it is just sooooo versatile!

    I found the Motrin commercial to be in poor taste… It felt as if they were promoting the whole Mommy-Martyr bit. While wearing my babies could be seen as simply an act of love to help my baby be happy and healthy, it has also been super beneficial to me and helped me to be an attentive, tuned-in mom…no sacrifices were made to my neck or back to provide this gift to my family 🙂 And I’d take a warm soak in the tub over a Motrin any day!

  2. I tried a Bjorn until my daughter was about 5 months, when we swapped to an Ergo. She still goes in it for several hours a day at 12 monnths, and I find it very low-impact on my back.

  3. I have used a variety of carriers depending on how old and how much my daughter weighed. We started with a Moby Wrap. You cannont beat the comfort, but it does take a few tries to learn to tie. Then a Hotsling when my daughter rode on my hip. As she got older still we did and still do use an Ergo Baby Carrier for hiking etc.

    Not all parents may want to invest in so many carriers, but for us it was the way to go!

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