Scanning my parents’ group message boards, there are certain questions that pop up more frequently than others when moms and dads are discussing which carrier is best for their baby. Here’s a run-down of the top seven questions and their answers:
1. “Is the BabyBjorn safe? I heard it wasn’t. Why?”
Some of what you’ve heard is true for very young infants, birth to eight or twelve weeks. For the smallest and youngest, the Baby Bjorn is a bit too static. It doesn’t move to nestle and secure the neck and some of the most frequent feedback I’ve seen concerns spinal development. Babies who aren’t yet sitting up on their own will tend to arch their spines in the Bjorn if it’s not super snug. Finally, the Bjorn rotates the very malleable hip joints, whether inward or outward facing, beyond what is natural for baby. For short hour or two jaunts (like I did), this isn’t a problem. But parents who choose the attachment lifestyle will be better off choosing another option for their baby, such as a sling or wrap.
2. “When can baby face outward?”
Consider why you’d want to face baby outward. So she can see, right? Take in her world? In order to do this, she must have neck control. The muscles in an infant’s neck should be developed and strong enough to support upright head movement and left to right rotation. If not, the result is that baby’s nose and mouth will rest on the cloth front in an outward facing carriers, which at worst compromises breathing and at least results in a wet drooling mess.
My baby was born in August, so I used my Baby Bjorn from around October to November. By then it was too cold, but by next spring, when she was eight months old, I had no qualms having her face out. She loved it!
3. “When can baby go on your back?”
One of my favorite things about wraps and soft carriers like the Ergo is that their versatility shone as my kids grew.
At about six months, it’s recommended that you can start carrying your baby on your back. Though many wrap distributors will show images of smaller sleeping infants in a piggy back carry position, six months is the safest recommended age for back carrying. At this age, your baby has the strong neck muscles to prevent the head from lolling backward (ouch!), as well as the grip strength and communication ability – if yowls and primeval howls count – to let you know he needs something.
4. “At what age can my baby use a sling?”
Your baby is ready for a sling ride with you from the day she is born. The cozy enclosed feel of the sling mimics the womb, shields baby’s eyes from bright light and overstimulating surroundings. And the warmth-regulation between a caregiver and infant is supported by the relatively thin fabric weaves used in most slings. The sling’s cradle carry is ideal for discreet breastfeeding.
5. “How can I clean my baby carrier?”
For carriers like the Bjorn or Ergo, I’ve washed them in the washing machine on the gentle cycle, using Dreft or even no detergent at all. Wraps made of cotton-spandex blend are also washing-machine friendly.
But, as with all cloth-made items, the more you wash them, the more they fade and show signs of wear. I’ve always limited my washing to three or four times a year, in favor of using spot-cleaning with water and a little nontoxic cleanser. Even better, some carriers, Bjorn among them, now sell attachable swaths of cushioned cloth which essentially work as drool catchers. These are a great way to avoid overwashing your baby carrier.
6. What’s best for my newborn?
Your baby wants a carrier that will mimic the womb: close, snug, dark, close to mom’s body warmth and scent. For this, a wrap or sling (even a ring sling) is the best choice. As mentioned a little earlier, the ease of breastfeeding with a sling or wrap is ideal and the closeness of a wrap, which can position baby’s head right against your heartbeat, can’t be beat for sleep (Baby’s sleep, that is. You likely won’t be sleeping for a couple of years!) This upright sleeping position is also wonderful for infants with colic, as it helps to keep fluids in the tummy.
7. “What’s the most versatile, economical and can be used the longest?”
If you’re saving up for future purchases, or if you just want to be economical, ecological, and streamlined in the baby gear your family accumulates, you have two best bets. First, I’d recommend a wrap such as the Moby. Buy one with a silk or cotton reinforced panel where baby sits and you’ll get even more life out of the wrap as baby gets a little older and heavier.
The Moby is really all you need, but for a good second, I’d recommend the Ergo“>Ergo. You can buy the additional infant insert to enable you to use it with your smaller infant (10 pounds). I didn’t bother, because I began using the Ergo when my daughter was eight months old.
That’s it. The top seven questions. I hope I’ve answered one of them!