I actually started my baby wearing journey back in the 1990's, when my younger sister was born. For years, I had hoped for baby in the family, and just when I had given up, my youngest sister arrived. I was 14, and she was my joy. My mom had been given both a Snuggli and a generic pouch-type sling. I had seen the Snuggli in action and was excited to try it out, but I realized it wasn't nearly as comfortable, for me or baby, as it looked like it would be. Even as a big sister, there felt like something intrinsically wrong about wearing a baby like a piece of luggage.
The sling on the other hand, I hand never seen, and we ( my mom, middle sister, and I) were fascinated bu confused. We tried it out but something just didn't quite seem right, so the Snuggli it was. While it wasn't a horrible alternative, it seemed like there just HAD to be something better.
In 2003, when the The Boy arrived, I was given a Snuggli, and I had to admit that the design was an improvement, but I was still on the hunt for something better. I remembered that plain flannel sling- not even knowing what to call it, and I started researching. I was 19 years old, I had no mommy friends, and no one to talk to that had given birth in the last three decades. I had only ever seen a Snuggli in use. I couldn't just ask someone. So the hunt began, not even being sure which search terms to use.
It led me to a ring sling, by a company that no longer manufactures them. During my hunt, I discovered that the sling I had first encountered was, first of all, called a sling, and second of all a pouch.pocket style. I also realized that the problem has been the fit. Who would have thought? A piece of baby equipment actually sized to the person wearing it. By the time I made my big discovery, Big Boy was already sitting up and the ring sling worked great. While I had no babywearing mentors, everywhere I went, people wanted to know what that was, wear I got it, and " Gosh, they didn't have anything like that when I was raising babies."
The funny thing to me was that in all of my research, I had become pretty aware of the fact that babywearing was not a "new thing." Referring to babywearing in such a way started to seem nearly the same to me as hearing the older generation refer to breastfeeding like some new fad. I learned ( and knew in my own gut) that babywearing wasn't just about freeing up my hands with baby in tow, but about bonding. I had read that in orphanages, a baby can be given every necessary element for survival ( food, shelter, and cleanliness/health care) and still fail to thrive when it was left without human touch. I was convinced that despite what the older generation would tell me, we could not hold a baby too much, but in fact, science proved we could hold them too little.
When Miss Fi arrived on the scene, my only experience was with the ring sling, and I had obviously never used it with a newborn. Recalling just how much The Boy spit up as a newborn, I thought it might be very handy to have another sling around for wash times. this time I decided to venture out and get myself a pocket sling. I did all of this online, as we were living overseas at the time. Little did I know, I had already seen what has now become one of the most popular babywearing tools on the market in the inspirational stages. I suspect now that what I saw was a rebozo being used like a Moby wrap, and I was again incredibly fascinated ( especially since it was a German Daddy that I saw using it), but I had no idea where to find it and couldn't afford to shop for baby on the German economy anyhow.
So I went with a generic pocket sling, that I sized myself for the best that i could, and the minute i was home alone with two children for the first time, in she went. It was wonderful, and much less of a strain on my shoulder than the ring sling had been. in fact, I realized then just how much a strain that first sling really had been.
Now with all of our European adventures, I had started to appreciate the rigidity of the Snuggli, especially when carting around a toddler. I was also hoping for something that would fit Hubby and I both. I discovered the Ergo via Mama's Baby. It was wonderful ! Hubby, or I, could cart the toddler through busy train stations or mountain passes while hiking, and the other could take the tiny one in the pocket sling. Today, the Ergo is still my favorite carrier for the toddler stage. It works well with our active lifestyle, hiking and camping, but it is not so difficult to use around the house or out shopping. I enjoy that hubby and I can both use it ( with an extender strap for him), and that during the "pick me up, put me down" era of the toddler, it is not a hassle to just leave on for when it is needed.
I was still frustrated though, because why, oh why could I not find one sling that would work for all stages ?!?!? One go-to that I could suggest to others ?
By this time, I was starting to see more and more babywearing going on, especially among the Germans. By the time we arrived back in the States, babywearingPeanut shell, since I knew how well a pocket sling worked for me during the newborn stage. Sadly, I also new that after we got to the grabby hands, sitting up stage, the pocket sling just wouldn't hack it anymore- too easy for baby to lunge out for the counter/grocery cart/etc. unsafely. So then, I was tempted into a Moby wrap. This was like that amazing thing I had seen the German daddy wearing across the market square all of those years ago !
I was so excited to use it, and learning to tie it was even a bit of fun. Hubby never felt comfortable in it and wasn't really sure about getting it tied, but I adored the truly hands-free feeling of the wrap. It was an amazing blessing to bee able to safely carry my newborn while chasing a six and three year old. However, it was a bear to leave on when baby wasn't in it, and that was a downside for using it shopping and out and about, when I wanted to leave the sling on for being able to easily load and unload all of us easily and safely from the car. On my 5'2 frame, it was an awful lot of fabric to haul around, and one of my chief needs was something that I could leave on under my seat belt, so that running errands, I could get out, slide the baby in, then get the bigger kids out of the car ( no worries about someone standing patiently and safely by the car while you get the baby ready to go).
Once Bumbles hit the "pick me up, put me down" the Moby became more nuisance than help, and I was back to using the Ergo. I donated my pouch sling to someone with a newborn, new on the babywearing scene, and I hung up the Moby, waiting for someone interested.
Then Baby #4 announced his/herself, and it put me back on the hunt- still searching for something that would work beautifully at all stages. Now days, it is easy to find other babywearers, and many of them have tried out styles that I haven't even before, though I've been doing this since before I was old enough to vote. I came across the Baby K'Tan, and I wondered, just maybe...could this be it? What I have been searching for all of these years. It looks to have the security of the Snuggli, while offering the closeness + security of the Moby..all with the frugality of fabric of the Peanut Shell. I love the idea of baby gear made to fit the Mommy. It makes sense that if we are "wearing" something, it should fit us specifically. AND while I know that this means Hubby and I won't be able to share the sling, I also know that I am the one that is more often home to need the extra hands ;D
A Nation of Moms is sponsoring an amazing giveaway for a Baby K'Tan, and whether I win this one or not, I plan on finding a way to test one of these out with Baby #4....I can't wait to find out if this is really the carrier of my dreams....it looks like my decade long hunt might finally be over !