Letter From A Disillusioned New Babywearing Mama

Hey Babywearing Mamas,

Like many of you, I started wearing my baby a couple of weeks after she was born (this past August!) and was quickly swept up into the amazing world of Babywearing. I loved the closeness of wearing my newborn, and the community I felt from realizing that so many other parents were also enjoying a similar experience. The “Babywearing chapter” in my Attachment Parenting books led me to explore this new world with a passion. Though overwhelmed (mostly by acronyms), I also felt invigorated to learn more.

My excitement started to fade when I realized that according to many of the communities I was participating in, I wasn’t a “real” babywearer: I was using a Baby K’Tan with my 6 lb. 14 oz. newborn, not a woven wrap or a WC (wrap conversion) of some kind. I started to see a hierarchy of sorts, a class system of Babywearing, where it is not just about wearing your baby, but *what* you wear your baby in. I quickly found myself a lovely striped Girasol, finally feeling like a “legitimate” babywearer.

Then I noticed “Stash Shot Saturday”, where people post photos of huge “stashes” all neatly folded in colorful piles, and people without stashes comment in shame about their “lack of a stash”. Then I realized even on other days of the week, my Facebook newsfeed was streaming with photos of stashes, and fluffy mail straight out of the package, and neatly folded wraps, and piles of carriers… But I felt a distinct lack of “babywearer” and “baby” in most of the photos I was seeing. “Ok, so I get that people have carriers to wear their babies”, I thought. “But WHERE do they wear them?!”

It was in response to these feelings that I decided to start this project called, “Where We Wear: A Collection of Babywearing Stories”. Inspired in part by The Joy Of This’s Birth Interview Project*, I thought it would be interesting to collect and feature babywearing interviews; our special fleeting moments of Babywearing and the stories behind them. “Where We Wear” is a blog (https://wherewewear.wordpress.com/) and Facebook page (http://www.facebook.com/pages/Where-We-Wear/556661124368273); every day a different Babywearing “story” is featured. Babywearing parents (usually mamas) submit a photograph and answer five questions about their babywearing moment: who, where, when, what, and why.

Since starting this project a couple of months ago, many Babywearing mamas have reached out to me to share their stories and have commented on the stories of others. Veteran Babywearing mamas have also reached out, giving a listening ear to my thoughts and ideas, and sharing with me some of the history behind what I’ve perceived of as a materialistic/consumerist obsession with the WHAT of Babywearing, as opposed to the WHO, the WHERE, and the WHY.

I absolutely *get* the desire to own beautiful carriers. I am not hating on anyone’s stash, or questioning how people afford so many wraps, etc. That is none of my business. But I do believe that Babywearing should not be owned by those with the most/biggest/best wrap/WC collections. As a Babywearing mama I want to open up the community, to invite more people into this wonderful world of closeness with our children, to help mamas who have trouble affording carriers to find affordable options, to honor the long history of Babywearing in pretty much *every* culture around the world, to promote and normalize Babywearing (at least in my American culture), to make Babywearing accessible to parents who think strollers are the only option, and to shift the focus from what kind of wraps/carriers we use, back to why/where we Babywear in the first place!

I know I am not the only one who feels this way. I am thankful to have found this community, and thankful for the role Babywearing plays in my life. I hope you will all join me in this celebration of Babywearing!

❤ Lizzy

* https://wherewewear.wordpress.com/
* http://www.facebook.com/pages/Where-We-Wear/556661124368273
* http://thejoyofthis.com/the-birth-interview-project/

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31 thoughts on “Letter From A Disillusioned New Babywearing Mama

  1. Well, that sure brought me back down to earth. As a victim of the “baby-carrying THING” obsession, I appreciate this jolt back to reality. Caring for your child with THINGS should NOT be a competition. Thanks for this post ❤

  2. Love this! I am new to baby wearing and a new mom. I fell in love with wearing my baby in a ring sling and wanted to branch out into the wrap world. Not wanting to spend at least a hundred bucks on something that may not end up working out, I went through my grandmother’s fabric stash, found a beautiful linen and made a wrap of my own. Baby loves it and so do I! Right away I thought, “This is perfect! One wrap. One baby.”

    Being new to the world I dove in only to find that my “One wrap. One baby.” mindset did not really match up.

    • Ain’t it the truth, Stacey?! Lol. One wrap, one baby. It’s a great motto! I hope you send in a story, I’d love to hear more about your homemade wrap, especially with it having such a rich history. =)

    • Wearing is wearing. No matter how expensive or inexpensive. This week our babywearing group is doing a Babywearing Challenge. For the whole week we are asking mommas to post pictures wearing there babies in things they have around the house. Im excited to see what the mommas come up with

  3. Oh, the stash! I’m excited to get my k’tan in prep for baby’s arrival in ~10 weeks, and am already looking out for my next carrier. From the little interaction I’ve had with the babywearing community online, I agree the stashes are pretty intimidating, but I think it’s pretty similar to the cloth diapering community. Right now at least, I’m not too interested in my wrap stash, but I am pretty obsessed with my CD stash and *love* getting fluff mail. So I guess I get it, I just lucked out with getting obsessed with something a little more affordable haha.

    • In some ways, my hope with this post is to encourage mamas to rethink the stash obsession, or at least rethink imagining that your stash makes you somehow more legitimate of a babywearer/cloth diaperer, etc. If wraps were more affordable, I still wouldn’t want a huge stash of them. I tend to buck against the “system” so maybe that’s where my response is coming from, but I just think that needing moremoremore is a habit I don’t want to have hanging over my head (or my wallet).

      Your baby doesn’t know anything about your stash, whether it is made up of wraps or cloth diapers. All your baby knows and needs is your closeness.

      • Honestly, the only reason I was thinking about my second wrap was because a few people (including you) said the K’tan I registered for had a limited useful life. A friend gave me a Maya tie, which I hadn’t heard of before. It sounds like it can last me a long time, so long as I find it comfy (some mammas complain about the length of the ties, and others say it’s hard on the shoulders). If the K’tan and Maya both work for me, that will probably be all the wraps I get.

        Like I said, my “stash” is focused more on diapers, which I love. But right now I’m still buying basics, so the constant searching for deals actually serves a purpose. I can’t seem to get into the limited-edition WAHM obsession other mammas have – I just want enough to get through 2-3 days between washes! (Though I admit I bought 2 pockets simply because they were too cute to believe.)

  4. Love this because my experience has been so very similar! I LOVE baby wearing, but I just don’t get the need for a zillion different wraps. (Although, I suppose my husband doesn’t understand my need for a zillion different purses. LOL!)

  5. i proudly call myself a babywearing mama and i only use an Ergo and Maya Wrap ring sling. i too sometimes have a difficult time identifying with the hardcore babywearing communities. (found your blog thru baby center)

  6. I also started with a ktan. I am one of those people with a large stash and most of it is expensive. At first I had the ktan and a lillebaby ssc. I have been on a search for something truly comfortable for me and my baby that fits us well. For me I have bought over 20 carriers/wraps. 10 were woven wraps. Once I found out what I liked I narrowed it down to 2 woven wraps. I have sold 8! I am also down to one ring sling, it is a wrap conversion. My baby is 14 months and 25 lbs. we need the support of a wrap conversion. I have taken down my stash of SSC from 8 down to 4. One newborn, one standard, 2 toddlers. 3 are wrap conversions. Again it’s about our comfort level. I’m working on thinning my herd of mei tais now. I had 5 and I’m down to 4. I’d like to get it down to 10 or so carriers total. I use everything I own but again I’m getting it down to one or two of each thing I own in the sizes I need. Part of the issue is I am plus sized and it’s hard to find something that fits me. I am a size 16/18 and up at the higher end of fit or most mass made carriers, slings, etc. for some of us custom made wrap conversions are the only option for it to fit comfortably. I rarely participate in stash shots. But I post a picture of me and my baby, baby wearing almost daily. To my own profile. I agree 100% it’s about wearing your baby not who has the best carrier. But what can I say. If I’m goin to wear clothes or shoes I want something pretty. Same goes for my carriers. 🙂 that said if never look down on anyone for using a moby, ktan, or ergo. I would tell them when it starts getting uncomfortable to let me know. I can make one suggestions!

  7. I used a Snuggli — for all of 2x and got fed up with the contortionist act required to use it. After that I used a pouch sling someone made for me and then when I wanted other colors/patterns I learned to make my own so it only cost me the price of the fabric and the time to make it. I had 3 I used regularly and one spare. I kept one in each vehicle and the spare one in the diaper bag (incase of emergency that I rode with someone else and forgot to grab one going out the door) I made one specifically to match an outfit I was wearing to the Scottish games one year and the pattern quickly became my favorite. Toy Story was a close second lol. I tried using a wrap and just didnt have the patience to get it right every time (usually didnt have time either.) The pouch slings were easy in their simplicity to put on and go, easy to wash, store and have handy and were versatile for a blankie when needed.
    Everyone has their preference on what they like and find comfortable. I can see having a few options (colors or carrier style) but I would think a couple would be more than enough if you only have one baby since you will only use one at a time lol. (I say a couple only from the experience of having one in the wash from being peed on and still having one to grab and go at need)
    And no mama should feel pushed to the fringes if they only have one carrier. As long as mom and baby are happy and comfy then THAT is all that matters. It is the time spent close that is important and not how much status you have because you have 4 of this and 3 of that and 6 of the next thing in 8 different colors and patterns. The carrier is an accessory and not the focal point. BABY is the focal point!

    • HI Jodi,
      sounds like you have tried and owned several carriers. Which of your SSC do you prefer most? And is there a size and type of fabric in a wrap that is best for all the time? I cannot afford to invest in a bunch of options so I look forward to your recommendation!

      • Other than the snuggli which is the commercial made crotch dangler I only used a pouch sling with my son after that. The crotch danglers are bad for their hips and can cause diapers to leak from pressure on that area. (think about how you would like hanging from your underwear with all your weight on the area between your legs)
        All my slings were the same type, a pouch sling. I didnt do the long wraps because I didnt have the patience for them or the budget since they seem to be expensive.
        I learned to make the pouch slings so I only had the cost of fabric and my time as an expense. I used them year round.

  8. I completely agree! I am thrilled so many parents want to be close to their babies, but don’t get the need for the stash or the acronyms I haven’t figured out yet. 😀 Cheers to Mobys and Ergos and Girasols and all the rest – however people want to carry their munchkins.

  9. I think the most “hardcore” are the only ones who are going to spend time posting about it online. So, they become the voice of the community, but as an educator who meets regular old mamas and daddies every week who I help find one carrier that works for them, they are all babywearers and are always invited to hang out with us. Many members of our chapter spend 99% of their babywearing time in one carrier. I don’t get people who change their purse to match every outfit, but I don’t begrudge them existing. I think the same of the collectors, they want a wrap or carrier for every outfit… good for them. Doesn’t make them more or less of a babywearer.

  10. I whole heartedly agree. I am one of those that would love to be able to carry my baby, yet I do not have the funds for anything like a Tula or Ergo at this time . I am completely overwhelmed by all of the wrapping lingo and the different fabrics, blends, and brands. I am happy to announce that there is a local baby wearing group here in Tulsa and they have a lending library so I can start there. Thank you again. This was right on time.

  11. I had two Mobys (one gifted, one made at home) because my newborn was a master spit-up artist. When he got too heavy at around 4 months (he’s huge) I switched to an Ergo (first front-carry and then back-carry), and when he started preferring a hip carry (at around 10 months) I switched to a homemade ring sling. I think that children desire consistency in their lives, and the smell and feel of the same carrier over a period of a few months is comforting and reassuring – almost like sleeping in the same bed every night. For me it’s always been about comfort for both of us. I’d rather spend my money somewhere else, especially since they grow up so fast and need their independence as toddlers as much as they needed attachment as babies! He’s 16 months now and only tolerates a hip carry when absolutely necessary. I miss wearing him but I’m glad I had the opportunity and took it!

    I love what you’re doing, hopefully you can effect some change on our materialistic society and help new moms feel like there’s more than one way to babywear!!

  12. Thank you SO MUCH for this! I often try to explain to people that babywearing can come off as a privileged position. People try to explain to me all the reasons why they aren’t privileged, but they miss the point. Wovens and SSCs are expensive, DIYs are difficult without the skillset needed to make them. It’s even worse when I hear “money is just an excuse for people that don’t want to babywear.” Well, you can get a used stroller for cheap or free, but not a used wrap, especially when they sell for more than retail on the swaps.

    If we want to encourage more parents to babywear, we need quality options at an affordable price.

    • I learned to make my own pouch slings and I have made them for others for between $25-30. JUST enough to cover materials and a little to make it worth my time and easily half of Etsy prices. I see wraps and other carriers for 3-5x what I can make a sling for.

  13. I really appreciate this post! My preferred carrier is my Ergo, but I have a Moby, Maya Wrap and HotSling (older model). I just purchased an Infantino mei tai sash carrier for the caregiver at my daughter’s daycare, but I was ambivalent at first because the carrier was “only” $30 on Amazon. It seemed too cheap compared to my expensive Ergo (which was a gift), etc. It turns out my husband prefers the cheap mei tai over the Ergo, and the caregiver uses it all the time during the week. I think it’s great to have fun with different kinds materials and patterns for carriers, but I definitely think we should focus more on the comfort and usefulness of a carrier for both the wearer and for baby.

  14. This post brings up very valid and valuable points. Babywearing is fundamentally about connection and inclusion. That should also be true of mamas (and papas and other caregivers) within the community because elitism and exclusion defeat the very spirit of it. The babywearing community primarily exists to facilitate and exchange ideas about the use of carriers to wear one’s baby. There is always room in it to discuss the finer points of form and function, but to forget its essential goal and alienate valuable and equal members of the community is saddening, to say the least.

    Overall, in my experience, the babywearing community has been a wonderful one. Over the past six years, it has been personally enriching and empowering for me, for which I am immensely grateful. But you are right, within a group of like-minded individuals, it is also easy to get obsessed with and wrapped up in (ha!) the materialistic side or elitist vibe of it. I will say this: I have a stash, I love the beautiful pieces of cloth in it and I am comfortable with that. At the end of the day though, babywearing is the act and art of keeping one’s baby close, and a carrier is a simple device – it connects and secures a mother-child dyad, literally and figuratively. For that, I will forever be humbled by and grateful to it. My humility for its wisdom and my gratitude for the practice will always come before my admiration of its materials.

  15. I’ve been looking for a woven wrap to be able to comfortably wear Max in a hip carry, and was VERY intimidated by the Babywearing groups and trades on Facebook. It was a whole world of lingo I’d never seen before. I understand that people put many hours of work into these beautiful wraps, but the prices were far too high for something I wasn’t even sure would work out. The bragging of huge collections was definitely a turn off to me and made me question whether I was “mommy enough” to enter into the world of wraps. But I choose to wear for us, and that’s where the focus will stay. Thank you for talking about this!

    • Thank you Hannah! I can completely relate to your response when entering the online world of babywearing social networks. Have you had any luck deciding on what kind of wrap or carrier to get? If you are interested, it might be helpful to join the BWI Southeastern PA Facebook page. There are so many friendly and helpful moms! I wish you were in the area, you could just borrow from our library. Perhaps there is a group local to you in Germany?

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