Even before A was born, I was curious about “babywearing.” I thought it would be cool and convenient not to have to bring our stroller around with us everywhere we went. Plus, I imagined how sweet it would be to have my happy little munchkin all snuggled up on me.
My instincts were good, it turns out, since study after study has proven the incredible benefits of babywearing:
- It enhances immunological protection.
- It prevents ear infections and eases the symptoms of GERD.
- It regulates body temperature.
- It enhances lactation, the prevalence, and the duration of breast-feeding.
- It enhances growth/weight gain.
- It supports babies’ “quiet alert state,” optimal for observing and processing.
- It reduces apnea and uneven breathing patterns.
- It stabilizes babies’ heart rate.
- It relieves stress reactions.
- It’s linked to higher scores on mental and motor development tests in the first year of life.
- It increases oxygenation of the baby’s body.
- It provides longer periods of restful sleep.
- It mimics the environment of the womb.
- And it can even save lives: when preterm infant are held skin-to-skin within the first week after birth and breastfed, there’s a 51% reduction in newborn mortality.
- (Source: Boba, “Babywearing’s Health Benefits: Beyond Hands Free”)
Whoa! Little did I know!!
About seven months into my first pregnancy, I stood in front of the wall of baby carriers in Babies ‘R Us, overwhelmed by the selection and my total ignorance. I ended up settling on something that looked like a Baby Bjorn (the only brand I’d heard of) but didn’t break the bank: Chicco’s UltraSoft Frontal Infant Carrier—my gateway into babywearing.
We didn’t love the Chicco, though. I had the hardest time getting A in and out of it, and she never seemed to be particularly happy in the thing for more than about 15 minutes.
Then, one of my friends gave me a Moby Wrap. Well, this was something different! Although the novel-length instruction manual was a little off-putting, I quickly got the hang of it and found that A really liked to be worn, forward-facing, while I did my housework and grocery shopping. It was a huge lifesaver!
Apparently, wearing babies forward-facing is frowned upon in the babywearing community (SMH)
I probably wore A in this ultra-long piece of cotton fabric until she was about seven or eight months old. But after that, she was pretty much too big for the Chicco infant carrier, and the stretchy Moby fabric would get all saggy from the weight of the baby each time we used it. This was when I figured my babywearing days were over.
When Baby J was born a few months ago, I broke out the Moby, my old friend, once more, and sure enough, sweet Baby #2 loved to be wrapped up against mommy as well. But I started to notice a lot of other moms with this Ergo thing. It kind of looked like my old Chicco, but…bigger. More substantial, more supportive.
When I looked into the Ergo, I realized that there was a whole world of “soft-structured carriers” that I knew nothing about. And a UNIVERSE of babywearing lingo, contraptions, and collective knowledge that I’d completely missed the first time around. For instance, that first carrier I owned falls into the “crotch-dangler” category, a snobby babywearing term for carriers that don’t provide babies with knee-to-knee support, which is ideal for hip development. Uh, oops?
Weary of choosing another dud, this time with a price tag over $100, I did my research. I came across The Portable Baby’s Carrier Comparison Chart and studied it carefully. That’s when I learned about the Boba, a carrier that could, hypothetically, hold my newborn and my almost three-year-old. Pretty neat. I had to try it, so I went to a meeting of my local Babywearing International group before contacting Boba to request a carrier to try.
Here’s what I loved about the Boba on paper:
- As I mentioned, it converts to allow me to carry my tiny little baby or my big kid (7-45 lbs.) without any pricey inserts. (FYI, when I tried wearing A on my back, she said, and I quote, “I like the carrier. Put me down.”)
- It provides extra head support to newborns since you can cinch the top of the carrier body.
- It’s more lightweight and compact than some of its competitors.
- It has a taller carrier body (2-3 in.) and unique foot straps that accommodate big kids better.
- It has a much wider waistbelt fit range (25-58 in.) than similar carriers.
- And it gives you the ability to adjust the closeness of the child at the top of the carrier body so you don’t end up with them leaning away from you (super uncomfortable!).
The awesome people at Boba sent me the gorgeous Boba Carrier 3G in Soho. You should have seen me the day the package arrived: I was like a kid on Christmas!
I have to admit, Baby J was about three months old when I first stuck her in our new carrier, using the newborn hold, but it just didn’t work for us. You can see in this video that you basically flip up the waistband and snap it into place to make the carrier body several inches shorter for newborns, but that just seemed to create a pocket for her to slide into, no matter how tight I made the waistbelt.
When I spoke with a babywearing expert at Boba, she told me that given Baby J’s weight, she was just at the “in-between stage” of 12-15 pounds, when babies are almost ready for the full-body carry. The problem was that when I put Baby J in the carrier with the body at its full height, she disappeared into it: I couldn’t see her face, and she had no view, which made her frustrated.
When I returned to my Babywearing International group with my new carrier in hand, they suggested that I roll up a receiving blanket to put under her bum to lift her up just a couple of inches. That did the trick! The only downside is that the receiving blanket prevents her from having a truly proper seat, with her knees higher than her bum.
It took a little getting used to, but during our recent vacation week in Rehoboth Beach, DE, the Boba was a huge life-saver!! Not once during the entire week did we get into our car, as this is a very walkable area, so we brought our beloved City Mini stroller for A, and I wore Baby J everywhere we went, for miles and miles each day. She loved this thing, napping in there, nursing regularly, and taking in the beautiful view.
On the boardwalk
Naptime at the playground (doesn’t she look cozy?)
In recent weeks, the Boba has actually become our primary mode for getting Baby J around since she’s so comfortable in there. My favorite thing about it is how quickly and easily I can get her in and out, because lord knows, babies need a lot of pit stops!
If you’re looking for a carrier, I highly recommend the Boba 4G!
Happy Babywearing :)
P.S. If you’re the happy owner of a Baby Bjorn or a similar carrier that’s not technically ergonomically correct, you can make some adjustments to it that will help with that. Check out this video on YouTube.
P.P.S. If you’re new to babywearing, this infographic covers all the major points of keeping you and your baby comfortable and safe:
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