When I was pregnant with my first baby I bought a nearly-new BabyBjorn ‘miracle carrier’ from Gumtree for £65. It looked comfy and safe. I thought my husband would look very dashing with a baby dangling from his chest.
The only problem was working out how to use the bloody thing.
By the time I came to use it I was too sleep deprived to fathom it, and too worried about whether my baby could breathe to enjoy wearing him in it. Not exactly miraculous.
Since then I’ve used many hundreds of different baby carriers, wraps and ‘slings’ as they’re generically called. As a qualified Babywearing Consultant (yes, it’s a thing) and the owner of Wear My Baby I have helped thousands of families to choose the right baby carrier for them.
Choosing a baby carrier is a lot like choosing shoes: it’s about a good fit, personal preference, and always worth trying before you buy.
So what are the do’s and don’ts of buying a baby carrier?
DON’T RELY ON BIG BRAND NAMES
We’ve all heard of BabyBjorn because they have been around forever and have a big marketing budget. Does that mean they’re the best for you?
DON’T ASSUME THE MOST EXPENSIVE ONES ARE THE BEST
They’re often not.
DON’T ASSUME FABRIC BABY WRAPS ARE TOO COMPLICATED
Stretchy fabric wraps, which are IDEAL for newborns, can be pre-tied so you can just pop baby in and out through the day. Genius.
Non-stretchy woven wraps take a bit of practice, like most aspects of parenting, but they are ridiculously comfy and super long-lasting.
DON’T JUST RELY ON GOOGLE, AMAZON, MOTHERCARE OR JOHN LEWIS
While search engines and high street stores are the obvious choice, they will likely steer you towards the biggest and priciest brands with the largest marketing budgets.
Some of these manufacturers haven’t updated their original designs in line with current knowledge about mums’ and babies’ physiology. They already sell so many they don’t really need to. And there are just SO many great carriers that don’t make it to the first page of your Google search.
If you’re able to get to London then please do come and visit us at the Wear My Baby Boutique – we’re London’s specialist baby carrier store – so we can give you some proper expert advice. Or just get in touch so we can advise you on the phone or over email.
DON’T BUY A SUSPICIOUSLY CHEAP BABY CARRIER FROM THE LIKES OF EBAY OR AMAZON MARKETPLACE
It may not have been thoroughly safety tested.
The fabric dyes used may not be safe for baby to suck on. There are fakes around, imitating – in some cases very well, unfortunately – well know brands like the Ergobaby.
If a price seems too good to be true, it probably is.
DON’T WORRY IF YOUR FRIEND LENDS YOU ‘THE COMFIEST SLING EVER’ AND YOU HATE IT
Just like shoes or jeans, what works for one person may not work for another.
DON’T BE SURPRISED IF YOUR FRIEND LENDS YOU A PRACTICALLY NEW SLING AND YOU DON’T LIKE THAT EITHER
If it’s practically new they probably never used it themselves. That might tell you something about how useful it was.
Many parents come to me for advice having been given older style high street carriers with narrow bases, which are not optimally designed to support baby’s growing body.
DON’T THINK BABYWEARING IS JUST FOR HIPPY PARENTS
DON’T PUT UP WITH SHOULDER OR BACK PAIN
A sling that is fitted correctly should not hurt, even if you are carrying a heavy toddler or preschooler. If in doubt, ask your local babywearing educator for help or your nearest Wear My Baby consultant.
DON’T THINK YOU HAVE TO FACE YOUR BABY OUTWARDS WHEN THEY REACH A CERTAIN AGE
Your baby will usually feel heavier facing outwards as their centre of gravity pulls away from you. Read about world-facing carriers here.
DON’T RELY ON THE INSTRUCTION MANUAL
DO FIND YOUR LOCAL SLING CONSULTANT OR SLING LIBRARY
There are babywearing experts like me and the Wear My Baby team around the UK who can help you choose a baby carrier and get it to fit comfortably and safely.
We offer one-to-one consultations, a sling hire service so you can test drive them before you buy, workshops and drop in sessions. We’re very friendly creatures and always happy to talk about slingy things. So happy in fact, you can just call us on 0345 222 9004.
DO STICK TO THE TICKS GUIDELINES FOR SAFE BABYWEARING
These are very important: always wear your baby upright, with their tummy against your chest (when front carrying), with the whole length of their back supported, ensuring their airways are open.
The whole of the carrier needs to be fitted snugly around you both so baby can’t slump down inside it.
Never let baby’s chin slump onto their chest. Baby’s face should always be uncovered, with baby positioned high enough that you can easily kiss the top of their head.
FIND THE BABY CARRIER THAT WORKS FOR YOU
There are loads of different types of baby carriers, but you only need one. Or two. (Or 390 in my case, so come to think of if maybe I’m the wrong person to ask which ‘one’ to buy…)
DO MAKE THE MOST OF THE SNUGGLES
You will not spoil a baby by carrying them. When they are good and ready they’ll happily to wander off across the playground. And probably make a dash for it across Tesco’s car park.
Wear your baby for as long as you both enjoy it.
Contact us if you’d like any help or advice on buying a sling or baby carrier.
This article was first published in The Motherload Guide To: Baby Carriers. The Motherload is a witty, remarkably supportive and non-judgemental community and blog for brilliant women, who happen to be mothers. The Motherload is totally honest about parenting and motherhood, and 100% smug-FREE.
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