1 Year of Babywearing: The Things I’ve Learnt and Experienced

Finn had his 1st birthday recently and around that time I got what I believe will be probably the last new carrier we are likely to get while carrying him. At least I feel very content with our current ‘stash’ and feel like we have something for every circumstance we are likely to have with our now toddler. So I thought this was a good time to look back on Finn’s different babywearing ‘stages’ we went though, the carriers we have often only temporarily owned (i’ve been a churner at times) and what worked best for us at these different stages. Also what it has been like as a babywearing mum navigating what is really a mummy subculture with it’˚s own language, economics and trends.

Note: I have always been very open that babywearing is one area of my life I am by no means minimalist. That being said i’m a churner so was always swapping carriers so only had at most 5 carriers at any one time. This may seem like a lot to some, and to others is hardly any especially in the world of woven wraps which almost function like clothing.  I like to have a variety of different types as different things work best in different circumstances. The babywearing market at least historically also is one where you can get your money back (usually) and I never lost money overall as i swapped things around. It is definitely possible to have only 1 carrier.

Pregnancy
2014-09-28 09.59.24Our babywearing journey actually started when I was about 3 months pregnant with Finn. I had had a friend who was very involved with the babywearing community and i’d seen her photos on facebook over the years, and this is what introduced me to the idea. Wearing Finn was actually one of the things that I was most looking forward to! So a 2nd hand sleeping baby productions linen ringsling and then a Ellevil Paisley wrap was the first baby things thing I bought in preparation for his arrival before anything else. By the time he was born my newborn stash consisted of:
– the very broken in linen ringsling
– An Ellevill Paisley Quatro Blue 100% Cotton Size 6 Wrap
– A Wrapsody Hybrid Wrap
– A Hana Baby Bamboo Stretchy Wrap

I even got to try out one of my wraps with a friend’s baby with the help of another friend who had worn previously. It was love at first try. I was so excited to be able to wear my own baby and practiced with my wraps quite a lot with what few soft toys we had, which was mainly a small stuffed seal so I had to put the fins though like legs!

The Newborn Phase

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The Hana Baby Stretchy.

I first wore Finn as soon as we got out of the hospital, I think he was 3 days old. It was instant love! I started with my Hana Baby stretchy wrap as I knew it would be the easiest at first, which it definitely was. After all the practice and watching youtube videos I got it right away. The Wrapsody Hybrid I was not a fan of. I always found it too difficult to get the top rail tight enough (I always tied it like a woven rather than a stretchy, maybe that was my problem) so churned it pretty quickly.  He was mostly in the stretchy in the beginning though which really would have been fine for all my needs for at least the first 6 weeks. Finn was born in an Australian summer and it was definitely cool enough. So glad i went for a bamboo one as I hear cotton stretchy wraps can be quite hot.

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My Wrapsody Hybrid.

The ringsling I initially really struggled with, especially once he started wriggling a bit. Eventually I got the hang of it though,  but it found it more difficult than a wrap, even a woven wrap. I shouldn’t have used 100% linen though, and while it didn’t cause me any issues but i have since learnt that it isn’t really suitable for a newborn even when it is as broken in as mine was as it doesn’t give enough give for their developing spines like cotton does.

Daddy babywearing was the best thing ever.

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My Sleeping Baby Productions 100% linen ringsling.

My husband wanted to be able help out when Finn was unsettled and without boobs for comfort babywearing was the perfect thing for him and really empowering. He wasn’t patient enough to learn to wrap or wear a ringsling (well I didn’t trust that he would be to do it safely) and they were probably a bit too feminine for his style anyway so an Ergo Extra was perfect for him. We started with the infant insert (which we called the Doona) by but 6 week Finn was actually tall enough to not need it. That is very early compared to other babies but Finn is extremely tall.

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Daddy with his Ergo Extra

I personally never like the Ergo, i could never adjust it well to fit me and my husband like to always have it set for his size so he could put Finn on quickly so it was just his personal carrier. I had a huge stash of my own anyway.

If I could have only had 2 carriers at this stage: Hana Baby Stretchy Wrap & a Ringsling (DIY from cotton would do)

6 weeks to 4 months

I’ve grouped this period together as it was from around about Finn started getting decent head control and it was a lovely time when he was also happy to be worn for quite a number of hours of the day and was easy to do so. I also tried a few different woven wraps during this time.

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Ellevill Paisley Quatro Blue Cotton

The Ellevill Paisley really came into it’s own at this time. I loved the extra long tapers and that i could tie it in front. It was a beautiful, airy cool wrap too which was perfect as I was living in the Australian desert. I wanted to keep this one forever as a loved the look. Alas once my baby got to around 10kg it is was no longer supportive enough and just felt way too thin so it was sold on. Around this time I also churned a few in my newborn stash. I tried:

Keppeke Cubes size 6 100% cotton.

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Keppeke Cubes

An awesome wrap. Probably would have been more awesome as Finn got bigger though as in many ways it now reminds me of a Pavo which are generally renoouned as toddler wraps as it was densely woven and had that characteristicly awesome stretch. I wasn’t used to having to tie a FWCC in the back though after my Ellevil and a thick knot at that. Not really the best summer wrap for the desert so i churned it. I would have regretted that later except i feel like my current stash is even better for my needs, but this was a pretty damn good wrap.

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Bykay mei tai hiking in Uluru

I thought i’d give mei tas a go for something quicker so i swapped something for a Bykay Denim Deluxe Mei Tai. This definitely earned its place in my stash at this time as a fantastic beater I didn’t mind getting dirty and on days where i just couldn’t manage to get a wrap job right for one reason or another. They are far more wriggle proof.

Around 5 months or so when Finn could sit independently I started back carrying in wraps and the mei tai. I probably only was doing a ruck at this stage.

I also started getting into diy options at this stage and made some ringslings, tried a diy wrap too. Ive done a post on this previously. Ringslings from this age onwards i’ve found useful but only for short trips out with a car as my son has always been a bit of a seat popper so they have been great to diy so i don’t have much money in them. I only ever have 1 at a time and have settled on my diy pavo zebra ringsling.

If I could only have 2 carriers at this stage: Bykay Mei Tai and Base Size Woven Wrap (size 6 for me) preferably my Ellevill Paisley

6 months to 1 year

Finn has always been extremely large and tall for his age around the 100th percentile so i felt from as early as 6 months that i wanted to ‘toddlerfy’ my stash swapping out less ideal carriers to make everything a bit more supportive and hopeful suitable for the rest of our babywearing days.

Oscha Starry Night Romeo Hemp/Cotton Size 4 After experiencing how

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Oscha Starry Night Romeo size 4 wrap

convenient a shorter wrap was for back carries from a not so good DIY I wanted one that would be more supportive. To get that support I chose a hemp blend. At first it felt like cardboard and actually hurt to wear. Now it is like a cloud and so beautiful and comfortable. This was the closest thing i’ve had to a ‘legacy wrap’ as i associate the starry night design with doing Astronomy with my father when he was still alive. And it is awesome for a quick ruck or many other carries. Size 4 is a lovely size if your base is a 6 like it is for me. It is particularly great for back carries but I can also use it for several front carries such as FWCCTAS or Kangaroo Carry. However I still definitely prefer a full length wrap for front carries as it has more support (and heavy babies feel heavier when you’re carrying them on your front!).

Yaro Slings Berry Violet size 4 100% cotton violet

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Yaro Slings Berry Violet size 4

I convinced myself I needed something purple and this wrap came up on sale for $60 so gave it a go. It was very very decent for the price but traded it on when I saw something which I thought would be more toddler worthy (not that this wasn’t really, it was a good all rounder). If you want a cheap wrap and don’t like the stripy look of most little frogs then this is a brand to look into.

Inda Jani Rayado 100% cotton 5m
This was an interesting one. It is a artisan handwoven from Mexico but priced like a cheap machine woven. It felt entirely different to everything else i’d tried. Pillowy, soft and like

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Inda Jani Rayado 5m

velcro when wrapping. And very very thick. It also looked very different in different light. In a FWCC it felt like I Finn was weightless even at 11kg. 5m is a heck of a lot of wrap to contend with though especially when it was as thick as it was (300gms). I found it too difficult to double hammock with tightly enough due to the thickness but the wrap was too long really to just ruck with. Overall i’d say though this would make an awesome shorter wrap or ringsling but I didn’t want to chop it and needed at least 1 base size wrap in my stash so I traded it on.

Pavo Spice 100% cotton Size 5
This was the wrap that I traded the Yaro Berry for and it was most definitely extremely

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Pavo Spice Size 5

toddler worthy. It is very highly textured so everything stays put forever. Perfect for knotless carries. It is also an amazing beater wrap – in the time i had it it never ever got any pulls. It also has the most amazing stretchiness to it that makes wrapping a dream and so supportive. Something about the wrapping qualities though made doing a double hammock very difficult for me though and when I did the texture would leave imprints on my chest. So definitely better for carries like a ruck and I could just manage to do a FWCC tied at the tippy tails which meant it was super useful to take travelling if i could only fit on carrier in. The only thing I didn’t really love was the colour which wasn’t really purple enough for my liking and the pattern. However as ‘vintage’ Pavo that is far less sought after than their other wraps it was an affordable way to try out the amazing wrapping of this higher end brand.

Oscha Saltbush Linen/Cotton Blend, Size 6

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Oscha Saltbush Size 6

This wrap was a limited edition special woven for the 2015 Australian Babywearing Conference and while I didn’t attend, there were some left over available for sale. Since the design of this wrap was first proposed I fell in love with it. It is designed by Aboriginal artist Elizabeth Close who lives in the APY lands in the NT in a desert environment. Finn spent most of his first year living in the Desert surrounded by saltbush and part of my work involved working with the local Aboriginal people where I lived in South Australia. So the meaning and story behind the wrap really resonated with me and thus joined my Oscha Romeo as a legacy wrap. I chose a size 6 as I worked out for my needs 1 size 4 and 1 size 6 is the perfect combination and everything that i need wraps wise. What I love about size 6s at this stage and well every stage in the last year is front carries. I will occasionally do double hammocks as well if i’m wearing Finn for a really long time but generally will do quick rucks. But if he is fussing or having difficult going to sleep using other methods what always works is wrapping him in a FWCC and pacing the darkened hallways patting his bottom. Nothing else except a size 6 wrap is comfortable enough for me to do that (not even a buckle carrier) for the length of time that might be involved. It is a very supportive wrap and very soft, not hard on the shoulders at all which i’d kind of been worried about due to the linen content. But that was an unnecessary worry and it is also a fantastic wrap in summer as it is quite cool although densely woven.

Toddler Tula- Sea Glass

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Tula Seaglass Toddler Size

This is the last carrier I purchased after selling a wrap. I realised that I only needed 2 wraps (a 4 and a 6) and thus the size 5 with a bit redundant. Also I moved to a wetter climate and I was finding I didn’t have anything ideal for rainy days as my wraps drag on the ground when i’m putting them on and they ended up soaked. Finn had outgrown my husband’s Ergo at around 9 months old as he was no longer getting knee to knee support yet could still not walk (which is when this support isn’t really necessary) so overall getting a toddler sized buckle carrier that my husband could also use was the right decision for us. Overall I have been extremely happy with this carrier and now use it quite a lot even when it isn’t wet. As a wriggly seat popper and leaner there are times that Finn is difficult to wear in a wrap unless I use some very elaborate wrapping methods that combine back and leg passes. If i’m going out for an entire day to the city for example without a pram i’d be much more comfortable taking the Tula as I know it will definitely contain him with very little effort. It is also great that my husband can also wear him in it as it is very adjustable and i find it more comfortable by far than his ergo which we were never able to share for that reason. We used to have to take 2 carriers with us if we were going out for the day together and sharing the wearing. Now we only need this one.

I find it just as comfortable as a wrap on my back which is how I usually wear it. On my front though after a fairly short time it does hurt my back a little where as woven wraps do not. And that is why I like to have both for different circumstances. My husband can wear him comfortably on his front though in this so it is obviously an individual thing.

So My Current and Final Toddler Stash:

1 Buckle toddler carrier (Toddler Tula)
1 Woven Wrap Size 6 Linen/Cotton Blend (Oscha Saltbush)
1 Woven Wrap Size 4 Hemp/Cotton Blend (Oscha Romeo)
1 Ring Sling (I very very rarely wear this as it is no longer comfortable with Finn’s weight, but as it is a DIY i’m keeping it mainly for any future babies. It lives in the car for extremely quick trips).
1 Mei Tai (Again a DIY made of Ikea fabric. It is extremely comfortable. If it weren’t for the fact that mei tais have long straps that also get wet on rainy days like wraps i would have never needed my Tula. Now I have the tula though it is a bit redundant but as a DIY doesn’t have any resale value. Thus it also lives in my car as an emergency carrier.

If i could only have 2 carriers at this babywearing stage it would be: 1 Size 6 woven wrap for front carries and my Toddler Tula buckle carrier.

Things I’ve Learnt Over the Year

1. Woven wraps are definitely the most comfortable option and I believe would be so for everyone. They do take time to learn though but it is actually kind of fun to learn too. If you don’t find that kind of learning interesting however they probably aren’t for you as it will end up too frustrating.

2. Babywearing means you do not have to hide at home with a baby. You can go everywhere and anywhere at all ages this is by far the biggest benefit. Carriers function both as a means of transport as well as a portable bed.  I have been able to go to many social events when others might have otherwise had to forgo due to clashes with their child’s bedtimes and it works because I can feed my child to sleep in the carrier (or even just wear him to sleep, my husband can do this too), wear him during the event while he sleep, transfer him to the car still sleeping then transfer him to his bed, still sleeping. When that works I feel so bad-ass!

3. There is no such thing as the perfect carrier, especially when it comes to woven wraps. This is far more a compelling reason to have multiple carriers in a stash than simply because they look different and come in different colours. Personally I wouldn’t bother having multiple tulas unless they came in different sizes as they do the same thing, but each to their own i guess. Woven wraps are different as they are hugely variable due to their different lengths, thread types and weaves. 

4. And on Babywearing Economics. I did get involved in the world of facebook babywearing Buy Swap Sell. About half of my carriers came from there 2nd hand and all the ones i sold were on there. It is very interesting world economically. There are constantly new trends that can send certain wraps sky high in value to be much much more than people would have paid for retail. Likewise the vast majority of wraps hold their value very very well as on average I’ve been able to get all my money back from what I paid selling on wraps.  However Babywearing is becoming more mainstream and there are more and more carrier makers and weavers out there now than ever before. This has made many carriers plumet in value, particularly those that are high-end, and in particular the handwoven wrap market. Handwoven wraps are magical things in terms of wrapping qualities. I’ve been lucky enough to try a few at babywearing meet, but with the exception of Inda Jani which is only artisan quality and cheaper than many machine wovens I have never bought one. The main reason is they are far far too expensive for what i’m prepared to pay. Looking at the current market conditions for carriers if it is important to you that you can get the majority of your money back when you sell on your stash then there are a few types of carriers that are more likely to guarantee this:

  • Cheap woven wraps are always sort after. If you can get a wrap for around $100 or less 2nd hand then chances are you’ll be able to on sell for this too.
  • Tulas hold their value much much better than Ergos or other buckle carriers. Non-ergonomic carriers are by far the worst deal – people won’t touch them with a barge pole. If you are stuck with one of these for some reason sell on ebay where people are less decerning. Buyers are now also concerned though that there are many unsafe fakes of the big name buckle carriers in the market so you will only get a good price selling on if you can prove you got it from an official seller, so keep your receipt. If you are buying 2nd hand only buy one from a seller who also has a receipt for the same reasons.
  • If you get an awesome deal of something where someone has priced it way below it’s value again you should be able to sell it on for at least this price in the future. It is considered bad form to ‘flip’ it though marking up the price.
  • Many people are currently loosing hundreds of dollars on handwovens. If you care about your money stay out of this market, although that being said there are lots of bargans right now as people just can’t sell them for anywhere near what they paid retail. Once they start getting down a similar price to machine wovens then that would then be a good deal and you should be able to onsell as that same price later.

All that being said if you don’t care about losing some money and just view it like many other baby purchases then go ahead and buy what you like regardless of resale value. However just bare these suggestions in mind if you are justifying to yourself spending more than you would otherwise on carriers thinking you’ll get all our money back when you resell.

 

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