Baby Carriers for Protection & Comfort
The following is a guest post from our esteemed natural parenting expert (she’d deny it, but she is!) and friend, Rori Christensen. And a few notes from me, Sandy, about the awesomeness of baby carriers in everyday life and in bug out situations.
As preppers, we look around at the ordinary items in our lives with an eye for their many uses. As preppers with children, we are especially conscious of our families and the additional plans we need to make to take care of their needs, both physical and emotional. Our children may not understand why their world has changed so very quickly. They can’t walk the long distances that might be necessary and their emotional needs will be far greater than we can adequately prepare for. The best we can hope to do is to give them the security of their parents, even without the fluff of society around them.
Babywearing (using a child or infant carrier) is a tool used by mostly “attachment” parents, but it quickly catching the eye of mainstreams moms and dads too. The ability to be able to “wear” our children close to our bodies gives us the freedom to do just about everything we did without them attached. I personally have sewn, cooked dinner, played Wii, cleaned my entire house, grocery shopped and trekked through Busch Gardens with at least one of my children worn on my body. I found this extremely helpful after the birth of our second child. With a two year old at home and my husband returning to work after his vacation, I was unsure how I would manage to tend to my home and oldest child with a preemie baby. Even more impossible seeming was the thought of leaving the house by myself with them. How would I get both outside to the car? How would I shop with two of them? Looking back now, my thoughts seem silly but in those first few weeks, they were very real and scary.
Shortly after bringing our second child home, my husband bought me a BobaWrap. It is very similar to the more well-known Moby Wrap. Both wraps function exactly the same; a long continuous piece of fabric between 16 and 18 feet long. The wearer pre-wraps the wrap onto their body and places the baby in once tied on. The benefits of these wraps are near endless during the first few months of having a newborn. The wraps allow little ones to be snuggled close to mom’s chest (or dad’s!) where they can hear her heartbeat, follow her breathing and feel the warmth of her body. To a brand new baby, these sensory stimulators are priceless. Babies who are worn are calmer, feel more secure and can better regulate their own body functions. Studies have shown that children worn cry an average of 43% less than those who weren’t.
Mothers can easily breastfeeding their babies while using a wrap. There a couple of different ways to “wear” your baby and all of them offer easy access to the breast and still offer privacy to both mom and baby. I have nursed in Target more times than not and not one person has ever been able to tell. I can grocery shop while feeding my child, instead of spending 20 minutes in the fitting room waiting for them to finish.
A wrap like this would benefit a prepper in action, by giving us the ability to keep our wee ones close while packing, moving supplies or traveling over new terrain. We can have full function of both of our arms and hands and in dire situations, that is something we can’t afford to lose.
I strongly recommend the Boba Wrap as the “best” wrap. Moby wraps are available in mainstream stores, but seeking out an online store (or local natural parenting store) that carries a Boba Wrap is highly recommended. The Boba Wrap is made of cotton and French terry which means it has just enough give to comfortably place baby in the wrap. The Moby, on the other hand, is very stiff and when tying the wrap on one’s body, it can be different to judge how much room to leave for baby and it can take two or three tries each time to get it right. The cost of the Boba Wrap is $48.00 and their website states that it has been tested for use up to 45lbs, but I never used it much beyond 4-5 months as I felt it started to put a little more strain on my shoulders and back. After that point, I needed a carrier with a little more support structure.
A carrier with more structure, but that isn’t a pack, is the Ring Sling. This sling is made with linen, silk or muslin depending on the preference of the wearer. Each type of material has its benefits and before purchasing one, be sure to figure out which one would best fit your needs.
Regardless of the material, a ring sling is a long continuous fabric with one end sewn around a set of metal rings. The opposite side of fabric is threaded through the top ring, not unlike the belts we wore as children. When putting the sling on, the wearer will put the ring side over one shoulder and the pocket created by the fabric on the opposing side is the pouch where the child will sit. Mom gets out of the car, put the sling on, takes baby from the car seat, places them on her hip and tightens the “rails” of the sling by pulling on the fabric hanging from the ring.
The ring sling is great for quick trips into the store or for around the house. Baby sits on your hip and can see everything going on, which is very simulating for little developing brains. A downside to the ring sling is that nearly all of the weight of the baby is being placed on the shoulder with the ring and this lends to easy fatigue of the wearer – the sling can’t be worn for long periods of time.
My recommendation for a great ring sling is the Sakura Bloom ring sling. They are made in linen and silk and start at $88. There are plenty of other brands on the market, some much less expensive. And anyone with sewing abilities could easily make their own following instructions found online. If you choose to make your own please be certain to follow instructions carefully and use metal rings made specifically for ring slings. Using inferior materials will put your children in danger of being dropped out of the sling which could cause grave bodily harm.
I personally skipped the Ring Sling and went straight from a Boba Wrap into a soft-structured carrier. You may have seen Bjorn or Infantino carriers in a mainstream store like Target before. While the concept of these two carriers is commendable, the actual function of both of these brands of carriers is ill-designed and harmful to your little bundle. Known in the natural parenting world as “crotch danglers”, these carriers place all the stress of being carried right on your baby’s hips. By allowing their legs to dangle, your child’s hip are being stressed and dysplasia is a very real and serious concern.
Don’t be turned off by all soft-structured carriers by the misguided actions of these manufactures. Instead, look to Boba, Beco, ErgoBaby and many more as alternative brands that are highly respected for not only the superior design of their carriers but the care and quality of their manufacturing.
These carriers, like a Boba Carrier, snap onto the wearer across the hips and have a panel that holds baby in place. Once baby is placed either on the front or back of mom or dad, a top clip comes across and secures your baby (or toddler) in the perfect ergonomic position for a nice long trip. The Boba is fully adjustable, giving different sized parents the ability to use the same carrier by simply loosening or tightening the various straps.
The Boba 3G carrier had been redesigned to allow the wearer to carry an infant as small as 7lbs! This means you could purchase this single carrier and not need another for your baby’s entire childhood. That’s right; the Boba is designed (and really does) comfortably carry a toddler up to 45lbs. I have carried my now 3 year old many times in the Boba while running to the store or doing other errands. I have been very impressed with the lack of pain in my back and shoulders after wearing my children for 8 hours in a row at Busch Gardens. I have also nursed my 12 month old (while wearing on the front) and I’ve worn my 3 year old on my back when their legs were too tired to walk anymore. It amuses me to shock my family by spending all day in the park without a stroller.
This type of carrier would be the best multipurpose carrier for a prepper. Being able to carry any sized baby/infant on either the front or the back allows the wearer to do any needed tasks and keep their hands free. The Boba Carrier starts at $125 and would be the best investment you could make in a carrier. They’ll last through multiple children, and give you the flexibility you need if you ever need to go on a long trek.
As you can see, there are a many choices to make when it comes to babywearing, but the choice to babywear should be very easy. Babywearing not only gives the wearer the freedom to use both hands and arms normally and the convenience of being able to keep track of wandering little ones, but it also gives your child the emotional stability that shouldn’t be overlooked in the worst case scenario. Their entire world may be changing and if they are not old enough to understand, fear will be very present in their little minds. The security of being close to mom or dad will help calm some of that fear and make it easier for them to cope with their new lives.
For more information on the benefits of babywearing please visit Baby Wearing International. I also strongly suggest seeking out a local natural parenting store in your area to touch, see and feel the different carriers. They are also usually fully trained to educate you on your new purchase. If you’re unable to find a local store, visit Jillian’s Drawers to choose from a variety of carriers.
[Sandy’s Notes: I have a Boba Carrier for Little Aurora. I can personally vouch for the sturdiness and the sense of security it affords me and my daughter. It stays in the car and is always on hand when I need it, be it for a little trip into the grocery store, or for a long and unexpected trek. Aurora adores being carried this way. I adore having my hands free; it feels safer and I feel like I am better able to respond to changing external conditions. Put another way, it makes us more defensible. I wore Aurora in the Boba for 4+ hours at the last Gun Show we attended, and it was as smooth as wearing a very snuggly and warm backpack – no back or shoulder pain, and she was a happy little camper. If you have a child or infant, or expect one to join your group, this is a solid investment that you’ll use in your everyday life and which will prove invaluable if the SHTF and you need to bug out, or if you just need your hands free and your child safe.]