** Baby life has come with a great many gadgets, some of which have been awesome and some of which have been awful. My plan is to share my experiences with various items as they happen, but since I’ve already admitted that sometimes my plans fall through, we’ll see how it all works out At the very least, there will be one post in the series! **
When I was pregnant and registering for a baby carrier, I had no idea what baby-wearing was. All I knew was that when my parents needed to be extra maneuverable or have their hands free, they used some kind of front carrier when the babies were little, and then a sturdier backpack style carrier when the babies got bigger. That seemed practical and made sense, so I figured we’d do the same.
When I started doing research to choose a particular carrier, though, I quickly found that there are a LOT of people who take wearing their babies very seriously, which means that baby carriers are a big business. There were WAY more kinds of front and back carriers than I’d ever thought, and that was just when I was at Target! Once I started looking online, I found even MORE options (and lots of them were REALLY expensive! Apparently, using a baby carrier was something people did for more reasons than making grocery shopping easier, and they were willing to pay for it!) I also found a lot of VERY opinionated people online, but I wasn’t looking to join their movement. I just wanted the kind of carrier nice, normal people bought when they didn’t want to push a stroller through a crowd.
I ended up registering for (and receiving, yay, thank you!) a Moby wrap (which was AWESOME when Nathan was tiny and wailed any time you tried to set him down. I absolutely recommend them for newborns!) and an Infantino soft-structured carrier (which J primarily uses and seems to have no complaints with!) We reached a point over the summer, though, where neither of those options were really meeting my needs. The weather was warm, so wrapping Nathan to my chest with yards of thick cotton was impractical (Nathan is already a SUPER hot sweaty baby! I have to remember to dress him in fewer layers than I wear or else he gets so hot his glasses steam up and water drips down the lenses!) and I found that the Infantino wrap didn’t size down enough to be comfortable on me for very long (I’m not sure how petite women would use the product, because it sure seems sized for a man!) Nathan was in an in-between phase where he couldn’t sit or stand on his own, but he wanted to be upright and able to look around at things. He was also teething and was super clingy, so he’d freak out if I put him down. I started looking again into different kinds of baby carriers, and very quickly got overwhelmed by the different options and how expensive they all were (even buying the simplest carrier used would be $50-100!) Which is when fate stepped in and a wonderful friend sent me the carrier that her son had recently outgrown
Enter the Maya Ring Sling! I was already interested in ring slings because they are made of a single layer of material (so Nathan wouldn’t overheat as quickly), they were adjustable (so I didn’t need to worry about fit or either of us outgrowing it), and most importantly, they allowed you to carry your baby on your hip (instead of just your front or back) so I could see Nathan, he could see me, but he wouldn’t be right in front of me and in my way all the time (wearing your baby is great and all, but if what you want is to read your email, putting your grabby baby closer to the computer than you are is NOT a good idea!)
There was a little bit of a learning curve when it came to assembling and putting the sling on, but the first time I got Nathan into it, he promptly put his head on my chest and conked out I got caught up on my deskwork one-handed and nobody was crying, which is my definition of success!
Since then I’ve used it a good deal, primarily when we are just wandering around somewhere. It wouldn’t be good for things like grocery shopping (where I need to be able to bend down to get stuff off of the bottom shelf) and I wouldn’t wear it to go hiking in the mountains (or anything extra strenuous) but for any situation where I’d like to just carry Nathan on my hip but would appreciate some extra back support (window shopping, hanging out with friends, waiting at the doctors office) it’s PERFECT! Nathan is always totally willing to fall asleep in it as well, which conveniently means I can snuggle him if he’s tired and cranky while we’re out and about, but when he falls asleep, my arm and back don’t cramp up from supporting all his weight!
He fell asleep in it recently when we were at a food expo, and I found myself an unwitting baby-wearing educator. A woman saw me with Nathan and told her friend, “Oh look, it’s one of those wrap things I was telling you about!” (I’d covered up the rings with a burp cloth while Nathan was drooling/sleeping, so she couldn’t see them). I removed the cloth to show her the rings and explain about wrap carriers versus ring slings and the pros and cons of both. I left that experience and thought, “Huh, I think I just became a baby-wearing advocate! When did THAT happen?” It’s funny how life works out sometimes!
I still get overwhelmed when I look at different carriers (and I still think the costs are outrageous!) and I couldn’t tell you why a Maya ring sling is better/worse/different than any other kind of ring sling. What I CAN tell you, though, is that we use it all the time, and there are a lot of outings we probably wouldn’t be able to go on right now if we didn’t have something like this. (Thank you, Missy, for your beautiful sling!) It might not be the solution for every baby or situation, but for us, it’s awesome!