If you're expecting or recently had a baby, chances are good that someone has told you that they couldn't live without their Ergo/Moby wrap/Baby Bjorn/some other baby carrier you've probably forgotten the name of.
Chances are also good that if you've started to research babywearing in the slightest, you've become overwhelmed. You may even be a member of the everyone-told-me-to-register-for-a-Moby-wrap-and-I-did-but-now-my-baby-is-here-and-I-can't-figure-this-damn-thing-out club.
There is SO much information out there about babywearing, from its benefits for babies' development to which type of carrier is best to advanced mid-length wrap front carries to suggestions for babywearing in public or on hot summer days. The world of babywearing is deep and wide and seems to have its own language.
If you live in Orange County or Long Beach and are feeling intimidated about babywearing, we're happy to tell you that there is hope!
Meet Stephanie Ramirez-Hudnall. She offers in-home babywearing consults to help families figure out what types of carriers and positions will work for them. She is passionate about making babywearing accessible and manageable for all, and is very involved with the babywearing community in OC and Long Beach.
Stephanie is an amazing resource and was kind enough to share a bit about her babywearing education services with us. Enjoy!
Tell us a bit about yourself, and how you became involved with babywearing.
I had my first child very young and found I needed a way to carry them close while maintaining some mobility, because I just took them everywhere with me. I made a rebozo from storebought woven cloth and used it constantly. When I had my second child, I wanted another carrier, but couldn't find a fabric that I thought would be comfortable, so I started searching the internet, and I discovered it was an Actual Thing. I purchased a long woven wrap and was hooked.
What are the benefits of babywearing for babies/toddlers? What about for parents?
There's a ton of benefits. Some studies have shown that babywearing can aid with colic, it can assist with baby's ability to regulate their body temp, it can help nurture a nursing relationship, and if baby hates tummy time, it can help build the same core muscles. For parents, it can help bonding, and being hands-free is awesome when you need to get things done or have other kids to chase around.
When is the right time to start babywearing?
It depends on the carrier, but really you can start as soon as baby has been born. Back carries come a little later. And it's never too late to start.
There are soooo many different carrier options out there. For parents who are just starting to explore babywearing, how do you suggest they begin?
I would suggest visiting your local babywearing group, or checking out one of the many babywearing groups online. Many groups have a selection of carriers at their meetings, everything from soft structured carriers to woven wraps. It can be very overwhelming, but the types of carriers are actually pretty basic.
Carriers are like jeans - they're not going to fit everyone the same way.
Are there any carriers you recommend specifically?
My favorites are woven wraps because of their versatility. I have a few preferred brands that cover a pretty broad range of budgets and meet my ethical standards, and vendors that do the same. I also really loved the Beco Soleil and toddler carriers. Unfortunately, Beco is no longer producing them, but they're still available used on Facebook in babywearing for sale or trade swap groups.
Do you have any suggestions for how to find the right carrier for people of different heights and body types?
Trial and error. Carriers are like jeans - they're not going to fit everyone the same way. There are groups online that are specialized, too. I help admin a group called Big Babywearing, which is specifically for big and tall parents (like me) and we have resources for companies that will cut longer lengths, have longer straps, etc.
Do you have any suggestions for parents whose babies don't seem to like being worn?
Keep offering, keep trying. Sometimes it's a matter of finding the right carrier, finding the right mood. And stay relaxed. I found that when I was learning, if I got frustrated, my baby would as well and then it was all downhill from there.
Are there any common misconceptions about babywearing that you want to clear up?
Yes! A lot of experienced wearers are under the incorrect assumption that narrow-based carriers are dangerous. That's not true at all. Narrow-based carriers may not be the most comfortable option long-term, but unless baby has a preexisting issue with their hips, it's not dangerous at all. Also, many people feel that wearing your baby will spoil them or keep them from walking. That is also untrue. Anecdotally, my second child was worn quite a bit and started walking just after she turned 9 months. I still wear her now that she's almost four and she's very independent.
Where can Orange County parents go for babywearing help?
There are Facebook groups, So-Cal Babywearers and BabywearingOC, that have a calendar of local events, and some local boutiques where you can purchase carriers and lessons. I offer in-home consultations.
Walk us through a typical session with you. What can a new client expect during a babywearing consult?
My usual consultations include use of my personal collection of carriers to find something that works for you, assistance in locating a carrier for purchase either on a swap group or from a vendor, an hour-long teaching session to cover basics, positioning, and starter carries, and troubleshooting as needed.
What is your favorite part of helping parents figure out babywearing?
I love being able to help parents find a way to hold their babies close while still being able to get stuff done. Babywearing has helped me so much,and I've made a lot of incredible friends by connecting with other babywearers.
Stephanie's contact information