Wear Your Baby Well

Q&A with Bluegrass Babywearers leader, Becca Carter-Werum

Sometimes a mother’s best accessory isn’t jewelry or a purse. It’s her baby. Wearing your baby is an ideal solution for many situations, but choosing a carrier can seem overwhelming. Becca Carter-Werum leads the Bluegrass Babywearers group, which meets once a month in Lexington and provides support for parents who want to wear their children in baby carriers.

Becca joined the group in 2008 when her daughter was just three months old. Her baby carrier wasn’t working out for her, so she visited Mother Nurture in Lexington for some advice. The wrap she found was “a lifesaver.”

“My daughter would snuggle right in and nap while I ran errands and completed household chores,” Becca said. “We spent a lot of time walking around the neighborhood, which sped up the loss of the dreaded baby weight. It was a way for us to connect, yet I still had two free hands.”

Becca later became leader of the Babywearers group so she could help others learn the art of babywearing. Parents are often eager to get back into a normal routine, but your baby might not want to be left in a swing so you can do housework.

“Western culture tends to expect babies to be self sufficient early on, so quickly we forget that these tiny humans have spent their entire life in a cozy womb,” Becca said. “Babywearing provides an outside womb in which babies thrive. It is a wonderful way for parents and baby to bond while allowing parents a great deal of freedom.”

Q: What factors should a mother consider when looking to buy a baby carrier?

A: When buying a baby carrier, it is important to consider whether you would like to invest in one carrier that will grow with your baby, or if you plan to purchase multiple carriers as your baby grows and your babywearing needs change. Age and weight of the child are important factors, as it can be difficult to safely wear a newborn in a sling and stretchy wraps aren’t supportive enough for older, heavier babies. Cost should be also be considered. While there are cheap carriers on the market (Baby Bjorn, Snugli), they tend to be uncomfortable to both parent and baby, and you are likely to get less use out of them. These carriers have also been shown to cause hip development problems in babies due to how the baby sits in the carrier. A good carrier should have baby in a position where his knees are higher than his bottom, so that his weight is being supported by his bottom, not his crotch. Investing in a good carrier from the start will save you lots of frustration.

Are certain styles better for children at different stages of life?

People often ask me what my favorite carrier is. I have a hard time answering this because I’ve found that all carriers have their place. Stretchy wraps are the perfect carrier for newborns, but don’t offer the support you need to carry a heavier baby or toddler. Ring slings are wonderful for infants (not newborns) and toddlers; they are the most convenient carrier for quick errands, and are wonderful for nursing discretely, but they tend to be uncomfortable for wearing for long periods of time. Mei tais and woven wraps are both very versatile and accommodate children from birth to 35 pounds and beyond. Soft structured carriers are excellent for babies 15 to 45 pounds—with the exception of the Boba Carrier, and it accommodates babies from birth on up.

Which carriers are the most cost efficient?

Good baby carriers are an expensive but worthwhile investment. A good carrier is going to cost between $75 and $125, but will last you for the duration of your child’s babywearing years. A stretchy wrap, such as a Boba Wrap or a Moby Wrap, is less expensive (around $45), but will only last you through the newborn stage. Buying used is a great way to save money, and high quality carriers can be found on websites such as www.thebabywearer.com.

Which carriers get the most years of use?

A good woven wrap (non-stretchy), mei tai, or soft structured carrier (such as Boba or Ergo) are the most cost efficient in terms of what ages and stages they cover. These carriers max out at between 35 and 45 pounds and are excellent for front and back carries (a mei tai and a wrap can be also used for hip carries).

Which carriers are the easiest to use?

Soft structured carriers are the most user-friendly. Mei tais function similarly to wraps, but are less intimidating because they have straps. Wraps can be intimidating to new users, but with a little practice they are surprisingly user friendly. Wraps are also the most versatile of all carriers.

What benefits are felt, by mother or baby, through baby carriers instead of strollers?

While strollers certainly have their place, babywearing is more convenient in many situations. Strollers are cumbersome to get in and out of the car and tend to get bumped into in stores (likewise, placing a car seat on top of a shopping cart presents a fall hazard). Baby is better protected while being worn. Strangers are also more likely to touch your baby when in a stroller than if they are in a carrier—a pet peeve of many parents.

The bond that parent and baby have while babywearing is something that can’t be duplicated using a stroller. It’s easier to read baby’s cues if he is being worn, which leads to a more content baby and a more productive parent. It is also intellectually stimulating for baby to be at eye level—even newborn babies are learning about language, and love to be a part of daily tasks.

Read our Shopping Guide and Reviews from real moms here.

Becca Carter-Werum has been wearing her daughter for four years and leads Bluegrass Babywearers. She is a work-at-home candlemaker who owns her own business. The groups meets at 11:30 a.m. the second Monday of each month at Baby Moon on Richmond Road. More information on Bluegrass Babywearers can be found at https://www.facebook.com/groups/bluegrassbabywearers/ or by contacting Becca at bluegrassbabywearers@me.com