Want to know a secret? Picking up a baby will usually make him stop crying. He’ll probably even fall asleep.
When the white noise machine quits working, the jiggly chair fails and your lips start to cramp from saying “Shhh”, carrying your baby is the magical cure for almost all the reasons they’re crying.
Of course if you’ve got an infant in your arms, doing anything else is impossible, so in honour of Babywearing Week, we’ve put together a guide for buying the best baby carrier to suit your lifestyle.
You can’t blame babies for wanting to be close. Their formative months were spent curled up in the womb, and the world is a spacious, unsettling place in comparison.
Wearing a baby is great for their emotional development and feeling of security, and it’s a good way for parents to keep kids close while they’re puttering around the house or getting out for some fresh air.
Want to know the best part of babywearing? Their little fuzzy heads are close so you can breathe in that divine newborn smell.
The baby wraps
We’ll start our guide with the simplest tool: the wrap. Women have probably been carrying their babies in some variation of the wrap since humans were upright, or at least weaving textiles. It’s a long piece of fabric that ties around your torso to create a cosy pocket for your newborn to sleep in. The fabric spreads wide over your shoulders to distribute the baby’s weight, and it forms a space to safely support the baby’s head near your chest.
The Hug-a-Bub wrap ($99.99) is made from stretchy organic cotton and is suitable for babies from newborn to 12 kilos. It provides orthopaedically correct positioning, particularly for a baby’s developing hips.
I loved my Hug-a-Bub when my boys were very small. My anxiety from sleeplessness manifested itself in a whirring, restless energy, kind of like when you drink too many espressos. I wore my kids in a wrap while vacuuming, cooking and generally doing too much when I should have been resting.
While many women wear wraps when they’re out and about, once you have the wrap tied, it’s probably not advisable to retie it in public; the long fabric drags on the ground while you’re wrapping it around yourself.
The sling is another simple baby carrier, and since it doesn’t require a special tying technique, it’s good for the limited brain power of a sleep-deprived parent. The sling is a cross-body design, a bit like a handbag with a long strap.
With four-in-one slings like the Mini Monkey ($79.98), you can carry a newborn lying down, a younger baby sitting up and facing in or out, or an older child supported on your hip.
The shoulder strap is wide and padded so it’s gentle on your shoulders, but we recommend swapping sides when you’re carrying, otherwise you’ll end up lopsided and with a sore back.
We love the sling because it doesn’t take much coordination to breastfeed a baby in it, and the sling cradle fabric is wide, so it works well as a breastfeeding cover. When your baby is older and going through her clingy phase, (you know the one that never seems to end) a sling will save your arms.
The baby carrier
If wraps and slings are simple, the baby carrier is the Cadillac of the baby-wearing world. While a carrier is more complex than a simple bit of fabric, with complexity comes greater comfort, support and versatility. And although figuring out how it works might seem daunting at first, you’ll soon add it to the crazy list of things you can do one-handed, with your eyes closed, standing on your head. Being a parent teaches great coordination.
The Manduca Baby Carrier ($189.99) is a brilliant little tool for wearing your baby around the house, going out for the day, doing the daycare drop-off, going for a bushwalk or even travelling by plane.
It keeps babies’ legs in the orthopaedically correct M position protecting their hips. It protects your back and shoulders too with a firm, wide waistband to distribute the load of the child from your shoulders to your hips.
The Manduca is great for newborns, and doesn’t need an insert which is brilliant. Babies at that age are so floppy, it’s hard to manoeuvre a baby in an infant insert into a carrier. For taller children, there’s a back extension panel, and the Manduca lets you carry your baby in front, on your hip and on your back.
Deft mums can even breastfeed in the Manduca, although it’s not a skill I ever mastered.
I loved to keep my baby carrier under the pram as an alternate carry method in case my babies decided they suddenly detested the pram. A carrier is also brilliant at the airport when you have to walk through millions of security gates, or on the plane to help get your baby to sleep.
Still have questions? Want to try the different carriers out? Babies R Us has all your baby-wearing needs covered in store. Go to your local bricks and mortar shop and see which you like best: the wrap, the sling, the carrier or all three.
(This is a sponsored post for Babies R Us)