Babywearing is all the rage, at least here in Austin, Texas! Using a sling or baby carrier can be a great option for many disabled parents and may provide an alternative to a stroller, or help free up your hands to, oh, I don’t know, actually do something when you have a baby. Here’s my son’s take on the sport…
Mommy thought putting me in a sling or carrier would be just the ticket for a one-armed lady like her. Mommy was (again!) wrong, but here’s a little about our adventure with slings and carriers. And what an adventure it has been…
First, we tried the Moby wrap. It just looked so awesome and all those videos we watched on YouTube made it look so easy! In reality, it is a very long piece of fabric which requires wrapping and tying and in the end it was hot (people with multiple amputations tend to get hot easily), and mommy needed a lot of help to get it on, and I fussed the entire time I was in it. Luckily we were able to pass it on to a two-handed new mommy who really loves it.
Next, we tried the sling route. We have two: the Balboa Baby one pictured above and a non-adjustable one passed down from another disabled momma & friend (although it hadn’t worked for her). Slings are easy to get on and off with one hand, and mommy likes them. I like them for 10-12 minutes. And then I don’t. Mommy kept trying different positions, and for a while she thought me sitting up, butt in sling, facing her, would work. Not for long!
Next, we tried the Baby Bjorn. We have just the original but they have fancier versions. Now, you might not know there is all sorts of controversy about these carriers. A lot of the mamas online rail against the Bjorn because it’s hard on the wearer’s back (Other carriers distribute the weight onto the wearer’s hips, and this Bjorn does not). Mommy has found this to be true. It is hard on her back after a while, especially as I get heavier! You may also hear that the Bjorn is a “crotch dangler,” and could cause hip dysplasia. Unfortunately this is based more on opinion than actual science, but it does make some sense. Probably only a concern if baby was in it several hours every day, and I have seen an orthopedic surgeon’s wife wearing one, but still… Anyway, one thing we love about the Baby Bjorn is that mommy can put it on, and get me in and out totally by herself. The way it fastens and unfastens is great for someone with one arm. I like sitting in it, mostly in the outward facing position (also controversial!), but I still won’t tolerate more than 30-45 minutes in there.
After hearing about all the Bjorn controversy, mommy wanted to try something else. She ordered the Mei Tai BabyHawk. What a beautiful carrier! But she didn’t read closely enough because it wasn’t until it arrived that she realized it tied on, and tying anything behind her back is a no-go, especially with me up front squirming! She sent that one back right away. It was really pretty, though.
Next up, we ordered the Beco Gemini. We chose this one based on great reviews online, and style (of course – I’m a very stylish baby). It was the only ergonomic, non crotch dangler that offered outward facing (google that controversy if you really want to know) positioning. Other contenders were the Ergo, Beco Butterfly, and Boba (all get great reviews), but none of these allow baby to face outward. The Beco Gemini can also be worn on the back, but that seems unrealistic from a wheelchair! Once it arrived, mommy eagerly unwrapped it and prepared to put it on (who needs instructions, right?). But she couldn’t get any of the buckles undone. So weird! After she read the instructions, she realized these were special safety buckles which take TWO hands to release! Really? Really??? Even though she believed this would not work, she put it on (with help) anyway to see how it felt. She said it was so much more comfortable than any other carrier! All of my weight distributed on her hips instead of her back! Nice! I liked it fine – same as the Bjorn – I’ll tolerate 30-45 minutes in it. We eventually found a work-around to the buckle issue – mommy can buckle the carrier all up, loosen all the straps all the way, and slide it on over her head. Then she partially tightens the straps, slips me in from the top, then fully tightens all the straps. Not so easily accomplished when I’m crying or fussy! We are working on this one handed technique for undoing the buckles, too.
Mommy is currently too tired and too broke to try any more of these baby carriers (they’ll run you $50-$200 new). But, should she get a second wind, she’d like to try the Baby K’Tan, which is like the Moby wrap but simpler.
Overall, I would rate the Beco Gemini as the best carrier we’ve tried, but it has unique challenges for those with one hand. The bottom line is that I don’t love any carriers or slings. What I love is to be held “old school.” Sorry mommy, your one arm is mine!
Now that I have a baby sister, mommy got the Baby K’Tan as a gift. She and baby sister love this one best of all