Saturday, July 31, 2010

Carrying On

Since we have the blessing of working at home most of the time, we get to be around Alten as much as we want. Which is, of course, constantly. The only downside is that, at best, you have one free hand. When holding such a young baby, though, one must support the head as well. That leaves one able to walk around freely, but not actually do anything.
Luckily, humanity solved this problem tens of thousands of years ago (if not earlier). The solution is to tie the baby to yourself! Gently, of course. We came across plenty of examples before Alten's birth, from reading Continuum Concept to talking with friends to seeing strangers in health-food stores. We were convinced even then that we were going to give it a serious go, with hopes that we would be able to work with our baby in the garden from the beginning.
The internet was, as always, our resource for what is possible. We found many examples, and put our favorites on our baby shower lists. To date we have three that we've tried and liked. And please remember when viewing the pictures: we haven't mastered them yet, so if the setup looks a little awkward it's because we're not pros. Yet.
Our first carrier was the of the "mei tai" persuasion. Its origins are Chinese, and it is basically a square piece of cloth with a fabric strip coming off each corner (here Margo is hiding the lower strap with her arm). Ours came from Mei Tai Baby, and was a gift from our former garden manager, Ellen. It was the first we tried Alten in, and it is how we found out that he reeeeally doesn't like being restrained. Initially he was fine in it while asleep, but if he awoke in it there was hell to pay. He's getting much more used to it, though. It's Margo's current favorite.
The next is a Baby Björn carrier, which was a gift from friends in Lakewood, Colorado. It's high tech, with metal and plastic and fabric and cool snapping things. It was the first one we could successfully keep him happy in, and is pretty easy to pop on and off. I have sported Alten around the grocery store a couple of times in it. I have also worn it in the woodshop, where it was comfy enough for him that he went to sleep while I was banging on the loppers that I'm trying to repair. The downsides are that it can only be worn on the front and that if you bend way over it feels like the occupant can fall right out. But it's great for walks and shopping.
Finally, my current favorite, the baby wrap. It was introduced to us by our friend Rebekah who, when we visited her family in February, gave us a complete workshop in which baby products and philosophies they found helpful. The baby wrap is a simple piece of fabric, in our case about 24" wide by 15' long, which you tie around yourself in processes reminiscent of origami. I was hooked by Rebekah's demonstration. Of further inspiration was the website, which gives instructions for more than 15 ways to tie your baby to you.
I like this one best at the moment because 1) Alten seems to tolerate it well, 2) it holds him very close to my own center of gravity, which is good for my back, and 3) he doesn't sway around in it as I walk.
We now feel confident in forging ahead with baby-wearing, and look forward to becoming more comfortable working in them.


  1. With our three children, we used a sling- the "over the shoulder baby holder" It formed a nice pocket that the baby just dropped into like magic and went to sleep. With our youngest (now 8 months) it is the only way we can get him to sleep sometimes. Since I am a pretty wide guy (well, wide and round) it fits my frame the best. Fast and easy, maybe 10 seconds from putting it on to baby sitting inside.

    It does have drawbacks though, if he is unhappy, he stretches his legs and can arch right out of it, so I don't use it when working. I try to keep my right hand free whenever possible to catch him. Those pictures you posted look a lot more secure.

  2. That last wrap looks great!

  3. Were all of the methods "kangaroo pouch" style? In Africa everyone carried their babies wrapped on their backs. Besides not straining your back, you don't have something blocking your view and carrying ability. I don't remember the experience myself, but I was carried that way a bunch, and it seemed like all the babies I saw there were very comfortable in that position. I'm sure part of it is just getting used to it. Another plus to it was that you don't have to worry about your passenger falling out when you bend over.

  4. Hey, why didn't I get a cool photo too??????

  5. The last wrap has been very popular for some of my friends here in the Bay Area. Heather carried Sam that way until he was too big for it and then graduated to an Ergo.

  6. I'm with Margo. I like the mei tai carrier. Not that I'm having to carry anyone. ;)

    Margo looks fabulous by the way.

    Wishing you all the best. Now someone get that boy a widger!