The ultimate {according to me} babywearing resource post. (with links)

It has been a while since I wrote anything about babywearing. To be honest, I really miss picking out a carrier for the day and wearing one of my babies. The problem is that at 6 and 4.5 years old, they really are not babies anymore. The tables have turned and they are the ones doing any kind of baby doll/stuffie/dinosaur wearing around here lately, and to this I say, Huzzah!! My work here is done! I have spawned a new generation of babywearers! And since I am no longer in the business of selling baby carriers, I thought I would pull together some of my favourite and most trusted babywearing resources, retailers and information. All for you to bookmark for future reference, to forward to your expecting friends, and to peruse at your leisure.  Please know that none of this post is sponsored in any way and all of the information I am posting here is purely what I think is the best out there and these are my opinions and my favourites for reasons of quality, content, common sense and customer service.

I'll get the ball rolling with my own two very popular posts that cover a lot about what babywearing is and the myths that surround this wonderful parenting practice.

In Babywearing Myths and Misconceptions: Part 1, I debunk the myths about babies "not liking the Snugli", being to big to be worn in a carrier and babywearing creating "clingy" babies. In Babywearing Myths and Misconceptions: Part 2, I talk about safety and babywearing and how we are all turning into barefoot hippies! You can find all of my other babywearing posts here, including reviews of baby carriers, my views on FFO (front facing out) and other lovely tidbits from my babywearing days.

There are two babywearing manufacturers in particular whom I think are doing an incredible job not only with the design of their babycarriers, but also with the caliber of research and information that they share on their blogs, websites and via social media.

Onyababy has some incredible articles that you can access HERE. And you can read my review of the Onyababy carrier here.

The Boba website has an incredible series of research articles on their site that are my go to references for a lot of facts about babywearing and the incredible health benefits that it has for all babies (and care-givers too!). And yes, I did review a Boba 3G carrier too.

Videos. Tutorials. How EXACTLY do I get this baby ON me? 

I get these questions a lot and a general search for babywearing on Youtube can get pretty confusing if you don't know exactly what you should be looking for. Don't fret mamas, I have a couple of suggestions for where to start.

My friend Erin at Cosy Baby Happy Mommy has a pretty extensive babywearing tutorial video library on her Youtube channel and with a lot of practice, you'll get it, I promise.  I also really like the videos from Je Porte Mon Bebe (JPMBB). Although most of them are in French, you should be able to find the English versions or get the gist of them, and also the videos from Beth at Babyette Boutique are great for that ever elusive proper ring sling fit!

Now, since you can't actually buy anything from me anymore, where do you go to purchase your new baby carrier?

While I do think it is important to try out a few carriers if you can before you purchase one, I would like to give you a list of my favourite retailers (online and brick and mortar stores).

Tadpoles and Butterflies is a Canadian online retailer and probably has the most extensive selection of baby carriers you can find. These mamas have been doing babywearing for A LONG time and will be able to help most anyone find a carrier that works for them.

PAXbaby in the USA is a veritable online babywearing superstore and carries a wide array of amazing baby carriers to fit every taste and budget. They even have a rental program so you can try before you buy.

For those of you who are local to the Edmonton area, I highly recommend Birth Source Inc. as a starting place for your babywearing journey. The wonderful staff there are all experienced babywearers and will set you up with the right carrier for you and your baby.

I know that this is a lot of links and information, but I wanted to put it all in one place for you to have as a reference point.

And just remember, babywearing is not about having the newest, most expensive or most sought after print in this carrier or that wrap. It is about carrying your baby close to you, giving it the love and nurturing it needs and helping you get on with your day. Babywearing is about making things a bit easier for you and giving you a sense of security and confidence in your parenting as well.

Now, go forth and babywear my little grasshoppers!

Babywearing Grasshoppers

All my {babywearing}love,

Natasha~

 

Babywearing: Why I don't DO "FFO".

Twice this past week the debate about wearing your baby in a front or forward-facing-out (FFO) position has come up in two separate babywearing Facebook groups that I belong to. I have weighed in on both of these discussions and felt that since it was coming up so much within these groups, that I should share this information and my thoughts on the whole topic with everyone! In case you are wondering what FFO is or what it looks like. This is what I am talking about. A baby being worn on your front, facing out and often is a stretchy wrap carrier or some version of a Baby Bjorn type carrier.

 

I have several opinions on this matter and I want to start with just that. What I am about to post here is MY OPINION. It is based on my experience as a babywearer and babywearing educator. It is based on what I know and what I have been taught about basic newborn, infant and adult physiology and it is what I BELIEVE  are best practices when it comes to babywearing. Some will disagree with me and say that because there is no hard and fast peer-reviewed research and evidence stating one thing or another, that we can not say what are or are not best practices in this situation. To those people, I will respectfully agree to disagree and have to go with my gut on this one!

I do not believe that carrying or wearing your baby in a front/forward facing out (FFO) position is a babywearing best practice for the following reasons:

1. HIPS!

Ok, I may be a bit over sensitive about hips in general, given that I have had not one, not two, but three hips surgeries, but this is important! When babies are born their hips are not fully ossified and the outer edges of the hip sockets are made of soft cartilage, much like the cartilage of your ears. According the the International Hip Dysplasia Institute,

"If the hips are forced into a stretched-out position too early, the ball is at risk of permanently deforming the edges of the cup-shaped socket (hip dysplasia) or gradually slipping out of the socket altogether (hip dislocation). Hip dysplasia or dislocation in babies is not painful so this may go undetected until walking age and may also result in painful arthritis during adulthood."

Most forward facing carries and carriers do not support a baby hips and do indeed have them 'dangling' in a legs-stretched out position. And while this may not seem like a big deal for the 20-30 minutes one can actually withstand this carrying position before your back and shoulders give out (more on that later), doing this for extended periods of time and over time can potentially cause harm.

Now you are saying to yourself, but Natasha, Baby Bjorns have been around FOREVER, they can't be that bad for babies. And I will chalk this one up to one of those "when we know better, we do better" kind of situations.  And you are right, they may not be necessarily BAD for babies, but there are so many other carriers that are BETTER!

2. It's not always ALL about the baby.

At no other time in your life will your pelvic floor be as weak as it is than after you have a baby. And just like any other muscle group, it needs work to strengthen it again postpartum to avoid the nasty effects of a weakened pelvic floor, you know, like...incontinence or worse...prolapse!

When you are wearing a baby in a FFO position, the weight of the baby tends to pull away from your body. This make you want to adjust your posture and lean back a bit to compensate for this. What happens next is that this position automatically makes you tilt your pelvis in a way that exerts direct pressure onto your {already weakened} pelvic floor. Not only this,  but your now adjusted posture also puts a fair bit of pressure on your back, shoulders and hips and really, it is no wonder that you don't want to do this for very long!

Using a baby carrier or carrying your baby in a position that keeps them closer to you and in a tummy-to-tummy position (or on the hip or back in similar position) keeps your centre of gravity, well... in the centre and allows  you to have better posture and keep excess pressure off your pelvic floor.

3. We are two pieces of an amazing little puzzle.

Think about this for a minute. We are women. We have breasts and bellies and curves and somehow, no matter what shape or size we are, right down the centre of us is this spot that is the exact square footage needed to fit a baby. Their tiny heads rest on our breastbone and listen to our hearts beating. Their arms and legs curl up and they try to regain the flexed position of warmth and security that reminds them of being in the womb. When you pick up a baby, they automatically pull up their legs into a nice fetal tuck. They are naturally adapted to being carried and just like a squishy little puzzle piece, they are looking to be placed right onto their special spot on your body!

Placing a baby in a FFO position is like trying to put a piece of the puzzle together, but one of the pieces is backwards!

4. Sometimes it is all just TOO MUCH!

Think about walking through a busy mall.

People walking towards you and past you on all sides. Fountains and piped-in music and vendors and snippets of people's conversations all around. I don't know about you, but even for me a trip to the mall can be overwhelming. Now pretend  you are a tiny little baby in a FFO carrier trying to take all this in? It can be a lot for their little minds to process. I often see babies in FFO carriers exhibiting signs of stress and/or overstimulation. This can include balled fists, kicking legs or arms, lots of verbalization and straining to see/turn around to Mama or Daddy.

Babies need to feel secure and safe, especially in new or loud surroundings and often in a FFO position, they simply do not get that.

5. We don't want to lose them.

No, not the babies, the Mamas!

Most mainstream forward-facing carriers do not provide the wearer with proper support for their backs or shoulders. I see a lot of mamas wearing Baby Bjorns or Snuglis or even stretchy wraps with babies that are WAY too big for their carrier and every one of these mamas will tell me that their backs are killing them. I truly believe that these kinds of carriers and carries do more harm to babywearing as a whole than good. I have heard far too many times from mamas who feel that their 5 or 6 month old babies are "too big for babywearing" because they have used a carrier that causes them discomfort or they have not been educated about their options in the babywearing world.

This is a big part of why I am a babywearing advocate and educator. I feel very strongly that babywearing and all the incredible health and wellness benefits that go along with it need to be incorporated on a larger (public health?) scale into prenatal education. It is why I am so honoured to be part of great local prenatal programs like this one and beyond thrilled to see more and more soon-to-be-mamas attending workshops or requesting private consultations.

AND finally, if you look to nature and the way that all other primates carry their babies, you will never see an ape/orangutan/chimpanzee or any other monkey carrying their young in a FFO position!

Babies just FIT onto us tummy-to-tummy (or on our backs). It is why we are built the way we are and why they are born the way they are. Why fight nature?

Happy Babywearing Everyone!

Natasha~

 

Get that baby ONYA already!!

It is not too often that a BRAND NEW never been made before soft-structured baby carrier comes on the market. No 'fourth generation', no 'II', no 'now with designer fabrics'. I mean brand spanking new! And not only NEW, but GOOD. Like really really good!

That is what happened in September of 2011 at the ABC Kids Expo in Kentucky, with the official launch and release to market of the Onya Baby Carrier.

And babywearers everywhere were itching to get their hands on one to try it out and see for themselves what all the hype was about and what this new carrier had to offer.

I was no exception!

I "met" Diana Coote, the creator of the Onya Baby on Twitter and we started having great babywearing conversations. I immediately loved all the great things she was posting about babywearing and living an active lifestyle with baby!

So, when the carriers finally hit the market after four years of research and development (this fact alone is reason enough to give this carrier and the company BIG props), I asked her if I could have one to review.

She gladly obliged and sent me the 'Cruiser' in Leaf Green/Raw Umber.

Image Courtesy of Onyababy.

The first thing that hits you when you take your new Onya Baby out of the box is how incredibly well made it is. Your eye is immediately drawn to the padded and contoured waist strap and leg padding for your little one and you just know it is going to be a very comfortable fit even before you put it on. With little details like covering the waist buckle and putting it over on one side versus in the middle and the super cute Mama and Baby Koala logo on the carrier, the esthetics of this carrier are also very appealing.

And then you put it on and get your baby up on your tummy or your back and you are completely blown away!

This is one comfortable baby carrier.

And not only that, as a baby carrier educator I look for certain things in all carriers that I review and the ONYA Baby  hits all the major points that I am most concerned with.

  • Proper positioning of baby in an upright and tummy-to-tummy (or back carrying) position. CHECK.
  • The fabric of the carrier extending from knee to knee and baby sitting in a good flexed and abducted ("M") position. CHECK.
  • Good support and just the right amount of padding for the wearer's waist and shoulders, with the option to cross the straps diagonally across your back when front wearing. CHECK.
  • The body of the carrier high enough to fully support baby up to the neck/bottom of ear lobes, with an optional sleep hood. CHECK

But wait....

There is more!

Not only is the ONYA Baby a really great and comfortable baby carrier, it also has this ingenious little zippered pocket at the front that once opened reveals the full versatility of this product.

It is a CHAIR for your baby too!

Say WHAT??

Now I know some of you may have done something like this before with your wrap or mei tai carrier. Strapped your carrier to a chair and then fashioned some kind of contraption to safely tie your baby into it, not unlike those very expensive separate chair harnesses one can purchase.

Well, this is exactly what the ONYA Baby does. Strap your ONYA to a chair, unzip that little hidden front pocket and voila! Instant and SAFE seat harness for your little one.

Think about it mamas. You go for a nice walk with baby to your local coffee shop and decide to sit down and enjoy a latte and get a little snack for the two of you. But there are no high chairs. So you take baby out of your carrier and try to drink a hot beverage with them squirming on your lap or have baby eat something without making it look like a 'Category 4' hurricane of cookie crumbs and squished grapes has passed through the place. The whole situation can kind of take the joy out of the whole 'babywearing walk and chillin' with your little one' idea that you had in the first place.

NOT ANYMORE!

With the ONYA baby, you and baby can have your own chairs and you can enjoy your nice chai latte without risk of scalding the top of your child's head and baby can squish as many grapes as he or she wants in the comfort and safety of her own chair on the opposite side of the table!!

The chair option on the ONYA is ideal for the baby who has perfect head control, but can't quite sit on their own in a chair.

I did not have a four to six month old baby on hand, so asked my three-year old to give it a go!

I can see how the ONYA would be very handy to have and be able to 'put' baby somewhere when you are out and need to have your lap to yourself. The only issue I can see with it,  is that it is not a 'booster' seat and unless the tables are relatively short, baby would still be quite low and may not be able to reach any food or toys ON the table.

The Onya Baby is a very welcome addition to the soft-structured baby carrier world and I am thrilled to give it a very enthusiastic two thumbs up!! It is a great carrier to transition to when your baby is about 3-4 months (~15 lbs) and it has been tested up to 45 pounds!! I wore my 36 pound three-year old in if very comfortably and wouldn't hesitate to put my 5-year-old in it for a piggy back ride as well.

Diana from Onya Baby posted a great comparison chart of the different Soft-Structured Carriers on her blog this past week and has given me permission to repost it here for you to see how the ONYA stacks up to the other SSCs on the market. You can also go HERE to read her original post and see the rest of the chart.

 

The Onya Baby Carrier retails for  ~ $149.00 and is available at these fine retailers.

Happy Babywearing Everyone!

Natasha~