tonight i attended the workshop i organized for my prenatal group. topic: baby wearing.
there is a cute, local baby shop called nurtured that has tons of cloth diapers, organic baby items, baby carriers/slings, and other goodies. they also organize workshops, in-store, to demo several of their products for people who are unfamiliar. i organized this one to learn about all the different baby slings, wraps, and carriers available (using one of these options falls under the category of "baby wearing").
i was a little late arriving and i was shocked to see eight of the women from our group (plus one husband) showed up! how fantastic. most did seem a little shy though, as i was the one asking most of the questions. but what else is new?
anyway, the lady demoed 2 cloth wraps (one stretchy and one tightly woven), 2 slings (one plain and one with a ring), and 3 mei tai carriers (one more traditional all-cloth mei tai, one called the "beco", and one called the "ergo"). so many to choose from but of course they each have advantages for certain purposes or personalities of the baby and baby wearer. she gave us helpful advice for each though.
wraps can be wrapped thousands of different ways (depending on to how "into it" you get) and are good for people with shoulder and back problems (because it distributes weight evenly). slings are good when the baby is smaller (gives a close hold against your body), but isnt the best for people with shoulder problems (because only shoulder is involved in the weight load) and tends to get uncomfortable for most people before the suggested weight limit of the product. mei tais are versatile and can hold even an older child quite comfortably, the weight is distributed to both shoulders, but is perhaps best for babies once they have control of their neck.
there were two types of carriers they did not have in-store and do not recommend. the first are the metal hiking pack carriers. these tend to be heavier and bulkier than other carriers that can do the same job (the ergo, beco, mei tai) and often the child sits much higher up the parents back, so they are usually seen with their heads bobbing around a lot which isnt the best situation.
also not recommended, perhaps surprisingly, are the baby bjorns and baby bjorn imitators. i had heard and read a little about this before but it was no less interesting to hear her reasoning for not carrying them in-store. first, she mentioned that on a regular basis she gets calls from people saying the baby bjorn is causing them serious shoulder and back problems and their child is only a few months old! the baby bjorns put the bulk of the carrying weight in the center of the carriers body, which forces all the weight to be borne by the shoulders, tugging them down and causing a bowing effect that then quickly hurts the back as well (all carriers demoed in-store put the load of the carrying weight as much on the hips as possible). many people also find that they can only wear their baby in the bjorn for 20-30 minutes at a time...what a great $70+ investment...
second, the bjorns are actually not good for a developing babys body. not sure how this one gets overlooked so often, but perhaps its the appeal of having the baby in the facing-out position. the bjorns and similars all suspend the baby by its crotch, with all the limbs dangling. this puts all the body weight on the bottom of the babys spinal column. the hip, leg, pelvis, and spinal column areas of an infant are all still forming and learning how to articulate together. the added stressors the bjorns put on the body may lead to back or joint problems later in life.
ive actually worn the bjorn with an 11-month old (one of the french twins) and i was in serious pain shortly after leaving their apartment. i ended up having to use my arms to support much of the weight of the kid so that my shoulders didnt rip out of the sockets. thus, it wasnt comfortable, convenient, or useful to wear. plus, there are ways of using slings and wraps to get the baby in a facing-out position, should you so desire. and, all the carriers we saw demoed kept the babys knees at the same level as the bottom of the spine, which is the safer, preferred positioning.
(mom with a wrap and baby in the facing-out position. babys legs are in the "buddha" pose)
anyway, it was an interesting and informative workshop and i was so glad lots of people came. some seemed less excited about babywearing than me, which is fine, and i think the price of some of the slings seemed a bit much to some people. thankfully we received a sling as a baby gift, and are possibly receiving a wrap from someone else. once monster gets neck control, im really interested in the ergo baby carrier. it seems so comfortable and functional.
funny thing, after the workshop i was on the celebrity baby blog area of people.com and saw several celebs pictured using carriers with their kids. also very timely, there was a post of a video spoofing a beyonce song with made-up lyrics about putting your baby in a sling.
(actress kelly rutherford carries her daughter in an ergo carrier. this is the carrier i want.)
(musician pete wentz carrying his son in a metal hiking pack; actress alyson hannigan carrying her daughter in a bjorn)