Years ago, when I was newly married with no children, my sister in law had a baby. I hadn’t been around many babies since I’m in the youngest in my family and never had any younger cousins. The first baby I ever held was one of my cousin’s babies who was born when I was 11. He was just a couple weeks old and pooped while I held him. Not exactly the best introduction to baby holding.
Anyway, back to my sister-in-law’s baby. I babysat her one day for about three hours when she was about three or four months old. Of course, she didn’t know who I was from Adam. She wanted her Mommy or her Nana, not her Aunt Cindy. So she cried. As long as I walked around with her, she was fine…but if I sat down or stopped walking, she cried. I found a baby carrier and figured it was the perfect solution. I could walk with her to keep her quiet without having my arms hurting.
It was one of those soft front carriers that you can buy at a department store. One of those with straps and buckles and more straps and more buckles. Try as I might, I never could figure out how to strap that spider on.
When I was pregnant with Nicholas, I discovered that all baby carriers are not created equal. The standard kind I had grown up seeing – the soft front carriers and the back carriers with rails – are actually awful and good for nothing. Carriers, or slings as they’re better called, fashioned after the style of native cultures are far superior.
I started out using a Maya Wrap ring sling with Nicholas. I wore him in it all the time. He’d sleep in it at the mall or while I hung up clothes. Sometimes I’d put him in so other people wouldn’t offer to take him from me. I liked holding my baby. (I was young and had loads of energy. I still like holding my baby, but I prefer to do it in a sitting position now.)
When James arrived, I learned about the Ellaroo Wrap which I feel is an even better sling because it lacks the rings and is more versatile. I loved my beautiful Ellaroo…it was purple and blue, my favorite colors, and was very comfortable for both me and James.
I didn’t think we’d have any more children, so I sold the Maya Wraps (we had two) and the Ellaroo on eBay. With the news of Robert’s pending arrival, I started looking at slings again. There is so much more available now than there was just five years ago. I’ve been intrigued by the Asian styles called Mai Tai and Podegi (which does not cross the shoulders at all).
I ended up sewing myself a Mai Tai, and I love it. It is even more comfortable than the Ellaroo Wrap. I usually don’t feel like I’m carrying anything (though I do feel ‘relieved’ when I take it off). I wear Robert around Wal Mart if he’s too sleepy to sit in the cart, and I wear him at home sometimes when I need to stand up to teach the other boys during school. I’ve also worn him in the sling while teaching Sunday School and while hiking up a mountain.
I’m so glad that baby carriers have changed so much since I’ve been a mom. Really, slinging the babies has been a lifesaver to me. I don’t like using ‘mother substitutes’ like swings or Exersaucers, and using a sling has allowed me to still get things done while keeping the baby happy.
Here are a few pictures of my boys in the Mai Tai I made. I wish I had some to share of the Maya Wrap and Ellaroo, but I owned those pre-digital camera.
A Mai Tai style sling can carry 35+ pounds. It can even carry an unhappy four year old!
(And it didn’t hurt my shoulders…seriously.)
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