Podcast: Babywearing on Nomad Together

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Episode #37: Nomad Together : Babywearing

BECKY: Where are we right now?


CHILD: In San Miguel de Allende.


PAUL: Hi, I’m Paul Kortman from the Nomad Together podcast, for location-independent families and those who aspire to be one.


My wife Becky recently recorded a three-part series on babywearing. This is the first in that three-part series, and in this episode she talks with Jay McMillin, a professional Babywearing and Lactation Educator and mother of a 4-year-old daughter. Jay is also certified with the Center for Babywearing Studies, as well as being the voice behind the blog Modern Babywearing. Jay is working to normalize the practice of babywearing and has a lot of information and experience to share on this topic.


You may be wondering, why are we covering babywearing? Well, because it’s important to us, and because we see families struggling with strollers, and because we believe that this is a really valuable way for you to experience the world and for your kids to experience the world. My 10-yer-old still enjoys riding in the baby carrier. We’ll get into all that later. This is Episode #37 of the Nomad Together podcast. To get the show notes for this episode, head on over to nomadtogether.com/babywearing.


We’ve got a couple of iTunes and Stitcher reviews that we’re going to read here. Once again, we’ll read your reviews on the air, but it helps us immensely if you just go to iTunes or Stitcher or whatever platform you go to and write a review. It helps us spread the word that this lifestyle is possible for any family.


Oh, I love this, by Liz Applegate in the U.S.: “Loving the content and energy. Wishing I would have been nomadic in raising my kids. Keep up the great work.” Thank you very much, Liz.


The next one is from Tom in the UK: “Yeah, I need a holiday. I need an excuse to go adventuring. If you need an excuse, subscribe. Enough said.” Thanks, Tom. We really appreciate that, because we don’t ever need excuses to go adventuring, but we’re hoping to help all of the families out there have the right tools to be able to go adventuring.


And then by Courageous One from the U.S.: “I love to travel. This podcast really helps me understand how to travel and still have a thriving life. Very interesting.”


It’s that simple, folks. One sentence is all you need to go out there and write us a review. You may think it’s not that big of a deal, but it actually helps us immensely. It helps Becky and I sleep better at night, and it makes us a thousand do – no, I’m kidding. Really what it is, is just the way the iTunes algorithm works for us. To be able to rank, to be able to show up, and for people to be able to subscribe to our podcast and actually find out that yes, this lifestyle is possible, we need your review to help that. So if you find any value in our crazy voices coming into your earbuds every week, we’d appreciate the little 5 stars and a little sentence just saying “Hey, love what the Kortmans are doing” or “Love your guests” or “Really appreciated the babywearing episodes.”


Anyways, each week we will read those 5 star iTunes and Stitcher reviews. And if you don’t know how to do it, you can simply head on over to nomadtogether.com/podcast, where there’s a little video that shows you how to do it.


Where are we at right now? This fun place in the intro where I get to tell you that we’ve traveled the world – no, we’re still in San Miguel de Allende. We’re here to solve a couple other health issues, but we do have an end date now. We are leaving here about the middle of December and heading over to the Yucatán to celebrate Christmas in Mérida, or just on the shore a little north of Mérida.


In the meantime, we do need to make a visa run. We’ll be heading up to Texas, because believe it or not – that’s the closest country, I was going to say – the U.S. is the closest country to where we’re at right now, so we’ll be heading up to Texas in November for our wonderful visa run, and I can’t tell you how many plans we have for checking this and that and this off the list. So thank you, U.S., for being so close and for having everything we could ever dream, want, or imagine in one city.


Let’s do this. How does babywearing improve your travel experience, and what carrier would be best for your family’s lifestyle?


BECKY: So, you’re really qualified to talk to us about babywearing. Can you explain to our audience that you’re more than just a person who bought a bunch of baby carriers? You have a lot of letters behind your name, and can you tell us a little bit about what makes you someone who people should listen to when it comes to babywearing?


JAY: I definitely started out as just a person with a bunch of baby carriers. [laughs] But over time, I started to find that there were differences between all those baby carriers, and to want to explore those differences a little bit more and find what worked and what didn’t. Through my enthusiasm, I found Babywearing International, and through them I got trained to teach as a volunteer. I became first a Volunteer Babywearing Educator through them, and then I pursued a little bit further certification as an Advanced Babywearing Educator.


Then I decided to start to pursue it professionally, so I enrolled in a school in the United States here called the Center for Babywearing Studies, and it’s a really awesome school that trains babywearing consultants here in the States. I was fortunate enough to get hooked up with them and start consulting as a business. I really came to it through wanting to do more lactation education, and I found that babywearing really helped support that, and that was part of what drew me to it in the first place. And then it really became something that I was very interested in learning about and then sharing about with other people.


BECKY: You’re also a Lactation Educator?


JAY: Correct, I have both done volunteer lactation education at local nonprofits, and I am also certified as a Lactation Educator Counselor through the UCSD program.


BECKY: Excellent. And even more important than all of that, you’re a mom.


JAY: I am. I am a mom to a 4-year-old, feisty little Dragon Baby, and she is a Gemini. [laughs] Very fun child. She is the one that has really drawn me to all this, because she was not the baby that I had planned in my mind to have. She was her own little person and she has taught me so much about life, and through that, babywearing and lactation education has become such a huge part of what I do.


BECKY: Awesome. We’re trying to help people understand that when they travel as a lifestyle, investing time, energy, and money into a quality baby carrier is actually going to be beneficial to them. Their kids, their relationships with each other can change. I’ve got a lot of questions here that I would love to pop through with you and see if we can get some of that information out to our audience.


Why should people wear their baby or toddler?


JAY: I think the number one thing that really should draw people to babywearing is the convenience of it. I know there’s a lot of other angles that we can definitely explore here, but the number one thing that I think will get most people interested in it is that it’s a convenient way to transport our children. Especially if you’re a family that is traveling quite frequently, it is oftentimes really cumbersome to bring things such as a stroller. To try to navigate public transit, especially in places that might not have the same infrastructure that we do in a lot of parts of the United States, I just find that it’s incredibly convenient to have a baby in a carrier and to be able to move about at your own pace and to attack whatever hurdles come in front of you and to not have to worry about any other equipment other than yourself and your baby.


BECKY: I totally agree. We’re talking airports, trains, buses, boats. There’s just so many things, and being able to be basically hands-free just gives you so much more mobility to do the things that you’re doing and going places.


Some questions that I’ve been asked that go with that are, can you wear a baby while running through an airport?


JAY: Although I’m sure many educators would encourage you to not wear a baby while running at all, definitely an airport is one of the places that you should do that. [laughs] Trying to catch a flight with your bag dragging behind you and trying to drag a toddler along with you can be a really difficult process, but having the baby on your back and then dragging your suitcase behind you as fast as you can through all the terminals is definitely one way to catch that flight.


BECKY: Absolutely. Another question: can you wear a baby and a backpack at the same time?


JAY: When I’m wearing a small baby on my front, then I can wear a backpack on my back pretty comfortably. Now my daughter, though, is quite tall, so I prefer to wear her on my back and then have a backpack on my front. Not the ideal situation, but because she’s so tall, my visibility is definitely increased in that situation.


BECKY: Is there any other reason why not to use a stroller, other than it being cumbersome and it doesn’t fit in the overhead bins on an airplane or in the seat next to you on the bus or whatever? Is there any other reason, other than it’s just big and bulky?


JAY: Well, the baby has a completely different experience when they’re riding on the level of the caregiver. When a baby is in a stroller, they are essentially seeing what’s going on at about knee to belly button level for most adults. Clearly the conversation is not happening there, and a lot of the things that they might be interested in seeing aren’t there. And even if there are interesting things to see at that level, they can’t really dialogue with us about those things if they are being pushed away from us or have some kind of a barrier surrounding them that doesn’t allow for them to hear or to look up and say things to us and for us to know what’s going on.


So I really enjoy that about a baby carrier. You’re having your child at the same level as your head and all the other adults, so they can be involved in the conversation, they can see your face as you’re processing the beauty and the joy or the fear or the relief, anything going on in the situation around you. They can really be a part of that and be present in it and understand how we emotionally respond to what’s going on around us.


BECKY: That’s a really awesome point of view. I personally had not thought of it from the baby not being able to participate in what’s up at our level. I don’t know why I hadn’t before, because I know that when I am babywearing, I do talk to them more, and I show them things, but when they’re playing on the floor I don’t do it as much. So that’s so very true, and I just hadn’t put two and two together on that. It’s such a great perspective.


JAY: A lot of it is conscious, we are consciously talking to them, but then so much of it is unconscious, too. Them hearing the subtle change in our voice when we’re addressing somebody we don’t know, or the face that we make when we’re approaching something that we find either interesting or scary in any way. I think it’s a huge part of cognitive development for them to actually see the way that we’re processing things as adults as well.


BECKY: I love that. Everywhere we have gone here in Mexico, where we are right now, and when we’ve been in Africa, we see moms wearing babies all the time – mostly with just a piece of fabric wrapped around them, nothing fancy. But why do you think that we in the West – U.S., Europe, Australia, mostly – don’t wear our babies? Why is there a stigma about wearing babies here that isn’t in other places?


JAY: This really harks back to the really olden days here. There were a lot of philosophers and religious scholars back in the day who really pushed this agenda of children needing to be seen and not heard, children need to be independent and to not be attached to their caregiver. A lot of these concepts have become very Western, and we’ve adopted them as a way of doing things. As a way of not making the baby dependent upon us, we’ve given up things such as traditional carrying methods or so-called attachment parenting, which is really just the act of having your baby close to you – not necessarily keeping them in a containment device, but having them physically on you, which is traditionally the way most societies have raised their children.


BECKY: Wow. When I hear some of those type of things, I start to go “Yeah, I really want to reject that.” [laughs] What carriers are better when your kids grow and have different needs, like baby versus toddler, or how old or how big can your kids be and still wear them? This kind of an issue.


JAY: I think these are really good questions to ask. There are so many difficult carriers out there, and I really believe that there is a carrier for every developmental need that your baby could be going through. I know not many people would be keen on buying a carrier to suit every single one of those developmental needs, so it’s great that there are so many of them that can hit a lot of those different topics all in one carrier. I definitely do think, though, that it’s worth it to do a little bit of research on these things and look for something that you think is going to be able to do all those different things that you want to do with your baby over the next few years.


I definitely find some way better suited for newborns than others, and it’s important to realize that from a manufacturer’s perspective, it obviously makes the most sense to say that your carrier can do all these things from newborn through toddler, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s going to be the most ideal situation for a newborn or a toddler.


BECKY: So some of them can reach the gamut, but either end of the swing is going to be not the best.


JAY: That is a really good way to describe it.


BECKY: I’m going to assume – and you can tell me if I’m right – there is no perfect carrier.


JAY: Yes, I think that’s one of the questions that I get asked most often by everybody, is “What’s the best carrier out there?” If you’re a babywearing educator, you absolutely cannot answer that question. It is a matter of, where are we going? How big is the baby? What’s the temperature like? What am I wearing? There’s so many things that are going to come into play when we’re answering that question because it is very case-specific in most senses.


BECKY: So, types of carriers. Let’s talk about frame carriers. What are they, why would you use them, when should you use them, what are the pros and cons?


JAY: Frame carriers, they’re great for people who are very active outdoors looking for something dedicated specifically to hiking. I don’t necessarily consider them great for travel specifically because they are quite bulky and they don’t fit very well into overhead compartments or into small storage spaces. Not only that, but they don’t necessarily work very well for a smaller baby. They’re geared towards a larger child who can hold their head up, so we’re looking between the 6 and 9 month marker for most of those.


And although they have things like sunshades, a lot of them I find actually slightly uncomfortable for long-term use – not just for the adult, because it’s such a large, bulky pack, but also for the baby because a lot of them have a more narrow base for the child to be sitting in compared to some of the other soft structure carriers that I might recommend.


BECKY: There are lots of styles and lots of brands. Give us a little more information about what kinds of carriers are out there. So frame carriers would be mostly used for hiking; I know that there are sling carriers and there are wrap carriers. Talk about some of the different kinds, so that we can give an overview of what the choices are at the top of the funnel.


JAY: Definitely the frame carriers we talked a little bit about, and they have both external frame carriers and then something that’s kind of like a hybrid. It’s almost like an internal frame backpack carrier, where there is a backpack and then a seat for the baby all attached to each other. Some examples of that would be the Kelty Junction and then also maybe the Kanga Kid by Deuter. Those ones run a little bit less expensive, like $160 to $190, and they’re fairly lightweight. We’re talking about 4 to 5 pounds for the pack itself. So those are a little bit of a hybrid between a framed pack and then moving towards the next model of a carrier, which is a soft structure carrier.


Those ones I tend to see more frequently these days, especially in the West. The Ergobaby would be an example of a soft structure carrier. Beco Gemini is another example. Basically these are just a carrier with a canvas body and some kind of a buckle component to them, and typically also they will have a structured waistband to help distribute the weight, similar to a hiking backpack.


For me, when I look at a soft structure carrier, I think that it has largely been modeled after some more traditional carrying devices such as a Mei Tai, which is a traditional Chinese style carrier that’s been around, which is a panel with four straps. Soft structure carriers to me are kind of a take on that, with just a more modern, Western buckle finish to it rather than tie. That’s not to say that Mei Tais don’t exist, because they still do, and I actually think they’re fabulous carriers for the kind of lifestyle that you’re describing because they’re very versatile and lightweight, portable, and really work well with an infant through a toddler.


BECKY: I do not have one, but I have seen them and I have loved them. [laughs] If I were to get another, that’s what I would get.


JAY: It was one of the last styles of carriers that I got into. I feel like my daughter was almost 2 years old by the time I bought my first Mei Tai, and it has become one of my favorite carriers since then. It’s just an incredibly versatile piece of equipment, and I just love how small you can fold it up and toss it into your bag when not in use. We particularly have one that we absolutely love that’s a linen Mei Tai, and it has been great for travel in hot weather, such as when we were in Tokyo in August and it was 100 degrees and like 90% humidity or something. I really was enjoying that linen breathability along with the support that it provides, that fabric.


BECKY: That was another one of my questions: which carriers are best for hot weather? Because I know a lot of our location-independent families are heading to Southeast Asia or different places where they’re like “Let’s find some really great tropical place to live, or at least visit.” So that was one of my things: what’s the best one for hot weather?


JAY: There are some great options out there nowadays for hot weather. I was just mentioning the Mei Tai. There’s a lot of different brands out there. One of the ones that I’ve been really partial to is the Soul Slings brand linen Mei Tai, just because of the breathability of it. It also has these wrap-style straps which really help to distribute the baby’s weight quite nicely, so I find it very supportive for hours and hours’ worth of wearing if you’re out and about.


Then going back to the soft structure carriers, there’s quite a few of them now that are great for heat. One of the examples is Beco Gemini. They’ve been around for a really long time, but they make one now that has a mesh panel. That’s a really cool option. LÍLLÉbaby makes a carrier which is called an All Seasons which has a panel that zips down in the front to expose some mesh in the front. They also make an airflow version which is entirely mesh, so I really like that for the heat. Ergobaby has come up with this really cool Ergo 360 model, which is one of the ones that can actually forward-face ergonomically. They have come out with a cool mesh version, and that retails right around $180, so fairly accessibly priced. They make another model called the Performance that has mesh and it has a fairly large pocket for storing things, if you were looking to be traveling about for the day.


The Onya Baby, that’s another model that is actually very dad-friendly. A lot of men tend to gravitate toward this model because it’s very sporty. They make an Outback version with ripstop nylon, and then a Next Step version, which is actually made of recycled water bottles. Inside that carrier, both the panel of the carrier has mesh inside and then the straps and the waistband are also lined with mesh. It sits off the body a little bit, and it allows for cool air to pass between you and the baby and also between the padding and your body. So I find that carrier to be really good for the heat.


It also has this really cool function on it, which is a highchair function. You can actually strap the carrier to a chair and use a little pullout harness to work with your baby, so if you’re in a situation where there’s not a highchair, your child can still be restrained at a restaurant and eat comfortably with the rest of the family – which I found amazing for when we traveled. Certain places are not very child-friendly when it comes to having highchairs in a restaurant.


BECKY: Absolutely. That’s really cool. I’m actually going to be looking that one up after this to see it. Tell me a little bit about price. We’ve talked about numerous different kinds; give us some ideas about price from one style to another.


JAY: The majority of the carriers that I’ve been mentioning retail between about $130 to $180. These are for a lot of those more popular soft structure carriers that you can find fairly accessibly at places such as Amazon, or even on Target.com I’ve seen a lot of these available. REI often has some of these carriers as well. These are ones that we would consider more accessibly priced.


I think when people look at that price point, they consider it a little bit intimidating to jump in with a carrier, but I like to think about the use that you’re going to get out of that item. For me, my baby carrier is one of the few pieces that I actually have 4 years later that I had when my daughter was a year old, that I’m still getting use out of. Pretty much anything from our baby shower has come and gone from this house years ago, but the baby carriers are all still here, and they can be used with a second or a third child as well. So you’re really looking at a great value for the money that you’re spending on these carriers.


BECKY: I totally agree with that. When we sold our house and moved into our RV and started living location independently, we did not take any of our baby stuff. When we moved into our RV, our youngest was 3 at the time, and we had none of the baby stuff anymore. None of the clothes, none of the toys, anything. But we still have the carrier. We’ve even used it on our older children when we’ve been walking somewhere. Our daughter sprained her ankle. She was I think 6 or 7 at the time, and Paul carried the baby and I popped her in the carrier, and she rode in there the rest of the way home. It works fine. [laughs]


JAY: I completely agree. I think people often ask, “Why would you want to wear a baby that large?” But honestly, there’s going to be many times when that child around 5 or 6 is too tired to walk, especially if you’re a fairly active hiking family, or like you mentioned, spraining an ankle. An injury is a common thing. Or maybe a whole day at a theme park, a child might not want to walk towards the end of the day. I always just feel pained for those people I see walking through the parking lot with their 7-year-old in their arms, because that is a difficult amount of weight to carry in your arms. So I still really find the ergonomics of the carrier to be incredibly useful, even with an older child.


BECKY: Yeah, I remember Paul asking me, “Are you sure? Is she too heavy?” And I’m like, “Actually, no. It feels fine.” Even a big kid, the way it distributes the weight better than trying to carry somebody on your hip is just – I mean, even if you put the carrier on your hip, it still is distributing the weight in a way that your body can carry more comfortably.


Can you make your own? Should you make your own? They’re expensive, so if you can find a tutorial on YouTube that says “this is how to make your own carrier,” would you recommend that?


JAY: I completely recommend doing DIY if that is something that you are interested in. I would just recommend getting a pattern that is going to be durable and that has solid box frame stitching at the corners. I would just get advice from a babywearing educator or a local consultant, or just find a website that you know to be reputable to actually find these patterns. And there are a lot of them out there, so read the reviews and just make sure that other people have mentioned that this carrier is durable.


I don’t want to call out any horrible patternmakers necessarily, but I’ve seen some in craft stores. I’ve seen patterns for baby carriers, and when you actually look at them, the positioning of the baby is just horrible, and they look like they’re not made very well. You know that those people aren’t actually making baby carriers for a living; they were just doing it for fun or for craft. So definitely look into people who are making them and know what they’re doing so that you follow a pattern that’s going to hold up over time.


BECKY: Awesome advice. How do you judge a carrier or sling? How do you know whether or not it’s going to be a good one?


JAY: The number one way to know if a carrier is going to be good is to try it on. I strongly recommend that you find a resource locally where you can go to try on some baby carriers, because every single carrier is going to be fit-specific. So what works for your partner might not necessarily work for you. I think most people are concerned about what their baby is going to like, but the majority of babies in this situation are going to be fairly content with you wearing them in whatever carrying device you decide to start out with. There are definitely cases where that isn’t the truth, but for the most part, most babies are…


BECKY: Easy to please.


JAY: Yeah. As long as you’re holding them, they’re generally okay. There’s definitely exceptions to that, so I just think the best bet is to go and try them on, try on as many as possible, and if there’s something that doesn’t feel good about that particular carrier, ask questions. Say “I don’t like the way this is hitting my body. Is there something where the straps might fall at a different angle?” Or “Hey, I don’t like how this feels on my waist. This is carrying the weight a little higher than I would like it. Is there something where I can actually wear it lower on my body and distribute the weight across my hips instead?” Don’t settle for something just because it’s a decent price or you like the way it looks; instead, find something that feels genuinely good on your body so that you will be more likely to want to use it for a length of time.


BECKY: It’s like a personal accessory, and you happen to put a baby inside it. But you want it to feel like it’s really comfortable on you.


JAY: Yeah, there’s really no point in owning an expensive piece of equipment that doesn’t really suit your needs personally.


BECKY: Very true. You mentioned this before, wanting to be sure that you were talking about a carrier that was ergonomically correct for a baby that was front-facing, and I know that not all carriers are, and some front-facing baby carriers are really bad for baby’s posture and spine and bone development. So which carriers are good for your back versus which carriers might actually harm your spine or your posture, and also not just yours, but also baby’s?


JAY: I definitely think that there’s a little bit of misconception surrounding some of the more narrow-based carriers as being bad for a baby’s hips or bad for their spine development. There’s not very much actual research that backs that up. It’s things that people have pieced together to come up with this idea. I definitely will encourage people to pursue ergonomic positioning, because overall we just know that to be better for both baby and ourselves – not just in carriers, but in every other aspect of our life, we strive towards ergonomics. You can do that with your baby. I think that you’d be better off, but that’s not to say that the other carriers are necessarily dangerous.


With an ergonomic carrier, you’re looking for something that’s going to support the natural hip placement of the baby, support their spine in the shape that it should be in for their developmentally appropriate stage. There’s plenty of carriers out there that can accomplish that at a relatively decent price point. For example, if you were looking for something that had the ability to face out, some of the more popular ones like the Björn are the ones that people tend to gravitate towards.


But having owned some of those front pack carriers and used them, I know from personal experience that they can be quite uncomfortable, because a lot of the weight is hanging from your shoulders rather than having a waistband to distribute it to. So they’re great in the beginning when the baby doesn’t weigh that much, but once you start topping out around 15-20 pounds, you’re really going to start to feel that weight hanging from your shoulders.


Some of the more ergonomic options for something such as facing forward would be a Beco Gemini carrier or possibly a LÍLLÉbaby carrier, or the Ergobaby 360. They all support the baby’s hips in that in position that we’re really looking for, where the knees are placed higher than the bum, and the baby’s bum is actually rested in a seat. So they’re using your chest as a basis to support their spine, and then their hips are placed at that healthy position, and their legs aren’t just hanging. I find if you are going to be wearing a baby for a long period of time that that might be a much more comfortable position for them to be seated in.


I also think for the adult’s perspective, those carriers offer a waistband which is supportive for our backs, to help take a lot of the weight actually off the shoulders and have the majority of it centered on our hips. The other thing is that both the Beco Gemini and the LÍLLÉbaby, they actually offer the ability to cross straps across your back in an “X” rather than having them backpack style, and I find in a front carry that that really helps to distribute the weight better across your back.


BECKY: See, I wish I would have known all this before we did any babywearing way back when, because this is just such good information.


Before we finish some of our last questions, I would like to do a lightning round. I’ll mention the baby carrier brand, and you tell me pros, cons, or some interesting information in about a sentence or two about each one, to just give a really quick, rapid-fire overview of some of the top brands.


I’m going to mention right now the framed carriers which we talked about that were mainly for hiking. There are a lot of them out there. I’m going to quick list them, but we’re not going to go through them in the lightning round, just because these are ones specifically for hiking, not ones that you might use for everything else. Snugli, Osprey, Deuter, Chicco, REI, Kelty – these all have really nice external framed packs for hiking, if you wanted to look into that specifically.


But let’s talk soft carriers specifically, because they can be used for absolutely everything that you want to do. Talk to me really quick about Ergo.


JAY: The Ergobaby is one of my favorites because it is very accessible. You can find it on Target, you can find it on Amazon, you can find it almost everywhere. Fits a baby 7 to 45 pounds, so it’s pretty much a one and done carrier. You can use that with an infant all the way up through toddlerhood. It was one of my first carriers, and it is my husband’s favorite to this day.


BECKY: Yay! How about Moby Wrap?


JAY: The Moby Wrap is a great first carrier for an infant. It’s stretchy and supportive for that fourth trimester skin-to-skin care. I don’t necessarily consider that a great carrier for something such as hiking or being outdoors because it can be kind of hot.


BECKY: Very good. How about BabyBjörn?


JAY: BabyBjörn, that’s one of the most common carriers that we see out there these days, and one of the ones that many people start with. I think that it’s a great carrier to fit a newborn because it does not need an insert to support their little bodies, and it won’t swallow them whole. But because it does not have a structured waistband – well, there’s a few models, and the models that are most readily available don’t have structured waistbands, so a lot of the weight will hang from your shoulders. So over time it will become quite uncomfortable.


BECKY: Okay, Boba Wrap.


JAY: The Boba Wrap is a lot like the Moby except for it has a lot more stretch to it, so a lot of people say it’s difficult to get it tight enough. I do think it’s a quite wonderful carrier if you can manage to get it on, and it’s really great, once again like the Moby, for that skin-to-skin fourth trimester time. But it really stops being comfortable and starts to feel a little insecure around 15 or 20 pounds because the sag that comes into it makes it no longer sturdy.


BECKY: Tula.


JAY: Tula. That brand was recently bought by Ergobaby, which has made it a lot more accessible. You can now actually find it on the Target website. This carrier, although really popular, I don’t think is great necessarily for an infant. They do make an insert, but I find most babies fit best in that carrier around 8 months to a year. It’s a fabulous carrier to use from that time all the way up through toddlerhood. Although they make a toddler carrier, their standard will fit a 2- to 3-year-old quite nicely.


BECKY: Excellent. How about Beco?


JAY: Beco was also recently acquired by another company. They were purchased by the Boba Company. They make a line of carriers, and it remains to be seen what’s going to happen to them now that they’ve been bought, but the Beco Gemini has a fabulous front-facing-out carrier that you can use forward facing. You can use it with a newborn with no insert. It’s one of the better-fitting carriers for a newborn with no insert, in my opinion. They also have a standard carrier which works really well with a 6- to 24-month-old baby. And they have a toddler carrier which has one of the highest weight limits out of all carriers on the market. It’s a 65 pound weight limit. I look at it more as a preschool carrier than a toddler carrier, though, because it fits a child in about 3T pants.


BECKY: Okay, are there any others that, from what I’ve just said, you’re like “Hey, we really should mention this one”?


JAY: I said the Onya Baby earlier; that one’s a pretty cool one. They’re based in California, so I’m a little bit partial to them. But I do think that they’re really well-known for being an outdoors kind of a carrier. So if you’re into a sporty look or something that’s very durable, the Onya Baby can be great for hiking.


Another one that I think is worth mentioning but kind of difficult to get a hold of would be a Kinderpack. Kinderpacks are just these great carriers. They’re similar to an Ergo or a Tula, but they’ve got these really nice seat darts that make for a really deep, comfortable seat. They make four sizes: an infant, a standard, a toddler, and then they also have a preschool version which goes all the way up to 55 pounds. They’re fabulous carriers. They make them with cool mesh, and they also make them with canvas. Like I said, they’re a little bit difficult to get a hold of, though. They make only a certain amount at a time, and they stock them weekly. The resale market for them is pretty good.


BECKY: A big question I’m sure a lot of moms want to know: can you nurse in a carrier, and which carriers are best for nursing on the go?


JAY: You can nurse in pretty much any carrier. I think it’s a little bit more difficult to nurse with a stretchy carrier because you have to loosen it so much that it’s not really supporting the baby anymore at that point. Also, some of those front pack carriers, they have internal harnesses on the front, so that would also be a little bit difficult because you wouldn’t really be able to get your breasts out around it.


But other than that, most of these carriers are quite easy to nurse in. Ring Sling is great to nurse in a cradle hold or on the hip. You can nurse on one side. It’s easy to lift it up and down to adjust it for nursing. I always preferred something structured or something like a Mei Tai for nursing, though, because I had two shoulders’ worth of support still rather than the one shoulder with a sling. I also really liked that it could be discreet if I wanted it to, with like an Ergo, because I could pull up the sleeping hood on one side and give myself a little bit of coverage or some sun cover for the baby as well. So I really liked those kind of carriers for nursing.


I think the majority of carriers can be nursed in pretty comfortably as long as you just get a little bit of help with adjusting it until you figure out how it’s supposed to go. I just strongly encourage everyone, if you’re just learning to breastfeed, don’t think that you have to know how to breastfeed with a carrier right off the bat. I oftentimes will just try to work on the two skills independently before trying to put them together, so don’t be discouraged if your first time trying it goes a little funky.


BECKY: Mine sure did. I thought for sure that this whole nursing in a carrier thing was totally not going to work for me, and it was always a mess and nothing was going right. It just took some time and some practice. So stick with it; you’ll get it. Just give yourself some grace.


JAY: I think a lot of people end up nursing in a carrier in a moment of complete desperation. [laughs] You’re standing in a mall somewhere, or on a subway platform somewhere with a screaming child, and then you’re like “I bet I could probably feed them in this.”


BECKY: [laughs] So true. Okay, so talk to me a little bit about how babywearing has changed your relationship with your kid or with your husband or both. How has it helped you become a different parent?


JAY: I’ll say in the beginning, when I was nursing my baby, it really seemed like an around-the-clock thing. It seemed like she just needed to be nursing all the time, and that I was constantly trying to time my errands or going out based on when her last feed was. And then there was always this clock running. You had approximately an hour and 15 minutes until she was going to start getting upset again. I felt really kind of stuck at home. My daughter was kind of high needs, too. She was one of those babies that constantly needed to be in arms.


So those two things really pushed me towards wanting to learn how to use a carrier. Once I finally became comfortable in the carrier and then learning how to nurse in a carrier, it really changed my entire relationship with my daughter, because I no longer felt like I was confined to my home, like I was having to give up all the things that I once cared about because I needed to just stay home nursing all day. I suddenly had back my independence, I had back my freedom, and I felt like I got to bring the pieces of myself back that had been missing for a while and just learn to be the kind of mom that I had wanted to be. It gave me this whole independence that I had been seeking while still being able to meet my daughter’s needs and have her close to me, the way that I wanted to.


I just think overall, it changed a lot about our relationship. I don’t know that I necessarily thought that I would someday be wearing a 4-year-old when I started this whole journey, but it has become such an integral part of our relationship. She sees it as her place of comfort and solitude when we’re in an unfamiliar location or around people that she doesn’t know well. She comes to me and says, “Mom, I’m feeling tired. I think I want to go in the Ergo.”


For her to know what that is to her too, to understand how to self-regulate when she needs that help and to come to me and to see that as a tool for that, I really think it has just tremendously helped both of our bonding with each other.


BECKY: I know firsthand how when you are tired and the baby is small and you’re not getting enough sleep, and then you’re feeling stuck at home, you’re just starting to build feelings of resentment toward this little person that you love so much. They have completely altered your life in ways you didn’t expect, and the freedom that being able to babywear gives you just feels like you do have a piece of yourself back.


JAY: I think a lot of people really try to sell it as a tool for bonding, but for a lot of us, too, it can be that tool that we need for independence. You can strap your child on your back when they’re having a bad time and walk around, and you don’t have to necessarily interact with them while still meeting their needs. If you’re having a tough time, you can still have the mental space that you need as well. So I think it’s such an important tool for a caregiver to have at their disposal.


BECKY: It really, really is. I totally agree. What about dads wearing their babies? I know there’s some challenges that dads might face, so talk to me a little bit about why it’s so beneficial for dads, and how we can get rid of some of the stigma around dads wearing babies.


JAY: I think a lot of people will look at some of these carriers and think that they might be a little bit feminine, or that possibly their husband wouldn’t really be into it. I think a lot of dads gravitate toward some of the more sporty models of the carriers, or maybe even the front pack carriers like the Björn which we see often in media. We’ll see men wearing the BabyBjörn.


I’d like to shout out to some of the dad bloggers that are out there that are wearing regularly and really showing that Wraps and Ring Slings and Mei Tais can be just as manly as all the other carriers. There’s some fabulous bloggers out there that are spending a lot of time trying to dispel that myth that bonding with your child as a father is somehow not manly. I know my partner, at first he always used to argue with me about using the carrier. He said, “I can just hold her in my arms.” I said, “Well, yes, now. But as she gets older, that might become more difficult.” And as he saw me really embrace the Ergo and how comfortable she became in it, he started to really enjoy it as well.


I remember at some point I sold one of our original Ergo because I wanted to buy another carrier, so I sold I and bought something else. But my husband was so bent out of shape about me selling that original Ergo that he used to wear our daughter in that he actually went and bought another version of the exact same one, even though we have a myriad of carriers at our disposal, because he was so attached to it. It was one of the first times that I really saw that the baby carrying meant a lot to him, too.


BECKY: Paul has been a really great dad that carries his babies, and they have enjoyed that experience with him, and I think he’s really enjoyed it as well. I don’t know if it was something he was totally onboard with right from the beginning, but I think all dads have to work their way into it the first time. He’s never been somebody who was like “My manliness is more important to me than taking care of this little person,” so strap that baby on and go for a walk.


I think it’s really great that the companies are coming out with some products that help dads to see that this is something that’s for them too, and I also applaud all of the dads out there who say “I don’t care if it’s got flowers on it; if it helps me carry the baby around and the baby’s happier, then I’m going to do it.” That’s awesome.


JAY: There’s just something so unique. Many of us have that experience of having the baby inside of us and then wearing it on our chest all that time afterwards, so this is just a step for them to be able to experience that same bonding of having the baby on your chest and skin-to-skin, and feeling them breathe and them feeling you breathe and hearing the vibration of your voice. It’s just such a unique experience, and the baby carrier can really help to facilitate that with a non-birth caregiver.


BECKY: Absolutely. So where should people go, what’s the best places to look if they’ve heard a couple on here and they’re like “I really want to check that out”? What are the best places to go to look at a baby carrier, either for reviews or to purchase?


JAY: I mentioned some of the big box locations that you could get some of these, but of course I really love supporting small local businesses when I can. So I recommend people look for babywearing retailers online that carry a lot of these brands.


One of my personal favorites is 5 Minute Recess. Their website is 5mr.com, and they have a huge selection of carriers. They’re known for having a lot of very affordable carriers as well. They are a company based in the U.S., just a husband and wife team, and they’re just a wonderful group of people. And they do great things, such as they give portions of their proceeds away to charities, and they also have point systems for their customers so that you can earn points for buying carriers and save them up to get discounts on your next carrier. So I think they’re a really great company to support.


I also think that if you find local baby stores to go in and actually work with their staff to try on carriers, I think if you hit up some of these small little boutiques you’ll find some really interesting selections of carriers that might be different from what you’d find from some of the big box locations.


BECKY: Isn’t it also true that if someone sees a little carrier boutique and they pop their head in – I have heard that some places across the country in the United States have babywearing libraries, and that those boutiques might know where to find them?


JAY: That is a very good question. There’s actually this national organization, Babywearing International, which you can go onto their website to see where there is a chapter near you. But they have learning libraries where you can go to a meeting, and they’ll have suitcases just full of carriers that you can try on and in some cases borrow for a month at a time. But it is a good opportunity to try on all the different things that are out there before you commit to buying something that may or may not work for your family. It’s a really great resource.


If you look up babywearing libraries in your area, or babywearing lending libraries or learning libraries, you might actually find a lot that aren’t necessarily affiliated with Babywearing International, that are just independently run in your area.


BECKY: Excellent. I know that I went to – I do not know if it was associated with any specific organization because it was so long ago, but I remember having purchased two or three carriers before going to this group meeting where they just had a whole bunch that you could try on, and it was then that I found the two carriers that I have now, one that I use for infancy up to 15ish pounds, and the other for everything after that. It was so helpful just to be able to put a bunch of them on and really say “This is the one I like the best.” So I really encourage everybody to just check that out. It’s a “try it before you buy it” kind of thing, really. You can only benefit from it; there’s really no downside.


JAY: A lot of babywearing educators really compare baby carriers to jeans. If one of your friends says that Levis fit the best on them, it doesn’t necessarily mean that Levis are going to fit the best on you when there are so many other brands out there to choose from. So don’t always go off of the recommendations of other people, or even necessarily the reviews on Amazon. Really read things in depth and see why people thought this carrier was good, like how it fit on their body, which features that they enjoyed about it – and then take the time to try it on yourself if you have that opportunity, because chances are it’s going to feel differently than you thought it did, and there might be something better for you out there.


BECKY: Absolutely. Another thing I might mention is if you don’t have a lending or a learning library near you, any sort of a mommy group that would be around, just ask questions. I’m sure there’s lots of other mommies out there who might have information or might have lots of wraps to be able to share and say “Here, go ahead and try what I have.”


When you get together as a community, it’s helpful because people can share the information and the resources that they have, and that just makes things so much easier. I really do feel like when it comes to children, it does take a village. You can’t do it alone. It’s so much easier when you have other people that can just walk alongside you, and that’s one easy way to do it.


JAY: I completely agree with you. If it wasn’t for the La Leche League and Babywearing International and these organizations that really took me in when I was struggling as a new parent, I don’t think I would be where I am today. It was really huge to have that community and to learn from all of them to be the parent that I wanted to be.


BECKY: That’s really awesome to hear. I really think that those organizations do such an excellent job, and they have such an important place where they do their work.


What tip do you have for families trying out new carriers with their baby or toddler? What’s the last little nugget of information that you want to leave?


JAY: I think that one of the most common things that I hear when I’m trying to help people fit a carrier, the baby will start fussing, and they will tell me every time, “The baby doesn’t like this carrier. The baby doesn’t want to be carried.” I hear that really often, and I think that it’s important to point out with something like baby carriers that babies are actually just not very interested in trying new things in general. So a baby crying when you’re putting them into a carrier is likely for any reason other than the carrier itself.


I just encourage people, if your baby is crying when you’re putting them in, just commit to it. Get them in there. Then give yourself some time to calm down and walk around, bounce, walk outside, take them in the fresh air, sing them a song. Just really commit to them being in there until they calm down and then start to enjoy being in it. Typically the carrier is not the problem in most situations.


BECKY: When you’re trying new carriers, be sure to have someone there with you kind of as a spotter as you’re trying to figure out how to get the baby in and how to get them back out and how to get them in the right position. It’s just a whole lot easier to have an extra set of hands. And if it’s uncomfortable, ask for help.


JAY: A lot of people, if they try on something, they’ll say “I don’t like this carrier; it doesn’t fit me right. I’m going to get a different one.” But sometimes it could just be a matter of tweaking the fit on it, and then it would be a completely different carrier. I can’t tell you the amount of times that someone’s been telling me they hate their Ergo because the chest clip is all the way up on their neck, and then they didn’t realize that it can actually slide down and be adjusted. So it’s sometimes just a really simple fix, and it’s a matter of someone helping you to tweak it to actually fit the way that it’s supposed to on your body.


BECKY: I want to mention, too, that you have a blog. It is ModernBabywearing.com. Tell me a little bit about your blog and what you like to do there.


JAY: I write about baby carriers. Not a surprise. [laughs] I do some reviews, but what I’m most proud of, definitely, is the Education tab, which has a lot of resources for parents that are looking for different kinds of carriers. There’s an article on there talking about breastfeeding in different carriers. There’s one that addresses toddler carriers, all the different options out there. There’s one that talks about woven wraps, which is a rabbit hole in and of itself.


So I just like to put together these resources, because when I was starting out, it was really difficult for me to find the answers I was looking for, and I was kind of confused by a lot of the lingo and a lot of the little intricacies of the babywearing world. So I just try to keep my website fairly accessible. I want people to be able to go there and use it as a resource to find information about carriers.


BECKY: That is all that I have for today. Is there anything else that you feel like you really want to toss in the ring? Anything left on your mind that you want to say before we close off?


JAY: I don’t think so. It’s been really wonderful chatting with you, though, Becky.


BECKY: It has been delightful. I have enjoyed every minute of it. It’s fun to talk to someone about something that I also love. And honestly, babywearing isn’t something that I sit down like “Hey, friend of mine, let’s sit down and talk about babywearing,” but it’s really kind of fun to chat about it. [laughs]


JAY: Oh yeah. I could do it all day.


BECKY: I have enjoyed it immensely. Thank you so much, Jay, for being on our podcast.


JAY: Thank you.


PAUL: Jay clearly has a lot of experience and information to share. Check into her website, ModernBabywearing.com, and get that baby up at your level so they can experience life with you. I’m telling you, folks, it makes a big difference for them to be able to see life and to be able to benefit from all of these experiences, just as you’re walking from the taxi to the grocery store or wherever it is that you’re going.


Oh, and stay tuned for next week’s episode, when we discuss more of this babywearing stuff with Diane, who gives a completely different perspective, but yet even more in depth. So looking forward to that next week.


Hey, and I’m wondering: how was this episode for you? Do you know someone who would benefit from all this babywearing talk, or any of the other episodes that we’ve been putting together? Send them a link to this podcast episode, which is nomadtogether.com/babywearing, or just send them to nomadtogether.com. We’re available on every podcasting platform you can find, so just tell them to search for “Nomad Together,” and they will find us – even if they type it in as one single word or as two separate words.


So it’d be really awesome if you helped us out by spreading the word, tweeting, pinning, Facebooking, or whatever other kind of social media, Snapchatting stuff you do. That’s just one other way in which you can help us spread the word, and you can provide value to your friends by saying “Hey, you guys should really get into this babywearing thing.”


If you have any questions, feel free to email us at podcast@nomadtogether.com. We are here to help you live your dream lifestyle. Oh, and we have a book. It’s not a storybook, it’s not a “how we did it” book. Instead, it’s really a guidebook on the top 7 questions asked by families looking to become location independent, and you can get your copy at nomadtogether.com.


Folks, I’m sorry to say that’s it for Episode #37 of the Nomad Together podcast. You can see all the show notes for today’s episode at nomadtogether.com/babywearing. And folks, let’s leave those iTunes reviews. Come on, bring me some love. Until next week, let’s Nom


Review: Volare Ibis – Lalu Experiments With Combed Cotton

Double Hammock with a Sternum twist in Volare Ibis
Double Hammock with a Sternum twist in Volare Ibis

This is the second opportunity I have had to test a woven wrap by Lalu Wovens– an Atlanta based baby carrier company who burst onto the scene last year. This time they sent me Volare Ibis, a combed cotton white/grey beauty inspired by the feathers on the Ibis it is named for. The grey and white work together to create this really interesting depth visually, like the variance in shading you would see on an actual bird feather. It is absolutely beautiful, and felt completely different in hand from the Demoiselle Black Currant they had sent me last time. This combed cotton weft is a new material for them to work with, so I was really excited to check out what the wrapping qualities would be like compared to the earlier release I tried.

My partner was not interested in our selfie fun.
My partner was not interested in our selfie fun.

The first thing I noticed was how thin and soft it was in hand. Even before I washed it, it was plenty pliable. This is one of the things I love about combed cotton, and a reason I often recommend it for first time wrappers or squishy babies. It typically requires no breaking in, and is really easy to care for. After a quick wash and a no-heat tumble it came out fluffy and amazing and ready to go.  I mentioned it felt really thin, it actually weights in around 270 g/m^2 which puts it in the thin-medium category. For Lalu Wovens, this is their “lightest weight wrap yet”.  The weave itself was very airy, which made for some really breathable multi-pass carries in the California heat. The light color and light weave made it such a great choice for the summer here in the states, or in any other place where heat is a concern year around.

Double Hammock in the Grocery Store
Double Hammock in the Grocery Store

I tried it out first in a Double Hammock which is kind of my go-to carry with the 32 lb. 4 year old Dragon Baby I am wrapping. The combed cotton has the benefit of making the cross passes slide effortlessly – almost like when you are wrapping with silk. This would be great for learning wrapping with a baby a lot smaller than mine, as it makes for a really easy wrapping job. Only problem is there was almost a bit too much glide with my really heavy wrappee, so sometimes I would tighten the pass and her weight would cause it to slip and loosen a bit. Eventually I was able to pull all the slack out and maintain the tightness, and the texture held everything in place really nicely once it got there. We did a grocery store run with her in a Double Hammock and it stayed put all the way through the trip. There was no sagging in the carry by the end, and it had nice cush on the shoulders which meant no digging even after 45 minutes of big-kid wearing.

Trying to get some work done with a clingy toddler
Trying to get some work done with a clingy toddler

I wore it in a Double Hammock with a Freshwater Finish while I was at work with my daughter one day, as she was being particularly clingy. She ended up spending a good hour in that carry, and once again by the time I went to take her down there was no movement in the wrap job. I liked how smooth the passes glided when trying out the different finishes, so I later that week also tried out a Double Hammock with a sternum belt which was also plenty comfy and distributed the weight so nicely on my shoulders. In both carries I spent a significant amount of time with her on my back and was impressed at how comfortable it felt under 32 lbs of duress, despite feeling like such a thin wrap.


Freshwater finish & Fish Lips
Freshwater finish & Fish Lips

I wanted to try it out in a single pass carry, so I wore it in a Ruck with the tails threaded through the shoulder straps. I liked it a lot less in this carry. The wrap has very little bounce or diagonal stretch to it, so it is not the kind of wrap I would usually grab for a single pass carry with a Preschooler. It stayed in place just fine, but felt really uncomfortable under the weight of the single pass of fabric. I feel that this would be a great ruck wrap with a smaller baby or a young toddler though, because it was so nice and easy to wrap with and the wrap job would stay solidly in place once finished with no sagging after a long time wearing. I think this woven wrap is very versatile, and can be used in a multitude of carries with different sizes of baby.


Close up of the detail on the Volare Ibis in a rucksack carry
Close up of the detail on the Volare Ibis in a rucksack carry

The design is so classy, it is a piece that can be dressed up beautifully. Teresa Aaron, owner and designer behind the family business admits that fashion is a big source of inspiration. “Lalu came to be because of my love of design, my appreciation of fashion, and my fascination with the power of babywearing.” she shares. “I just want to make beautiful textiles that help all moms and dads elevate the way they feel about themselves.” Her statement was a familiar one for me. When I talk to people about how I got started wearing and collecting woven wraps, it was very much a journey towards finding myself again after the glorious trainwreck that was early months of motherhood for me. I had to reclaim my sense of self and my personal style, and woven wraps were a huge part of that. Volare Ibis is one of those special wraps that comes along that makes me remember when I used to collect just for me. It is so simple in its complexity, like the nature it is inspired by. This quality of design in accessible cotton weaves makes for elegant wraps that are not at all pretentious or difficult to care for.

Parking Lot Selfie in Volare Ibis
Parking Lot Selfie in Volare Ibis

Lalu Wovens is based in the United States. They work with U.S. textile mills to weave their products, and employ local mothers for their sewing and finishing team. Teresa handles the design end, while her husband runs the business side of things. Like others in this industry that I have spoken to, Teresa echoes how difficult that it can be, to be a mother and raise a family and try to stay on top of running your own business. It can be difficult to find the time to create and expand your business as one may hope to. Despite the challenges, Lalu Wovens is continuing to grow and release new creations. They will be releasing a new design in the coming weeks after this review was written, and have recently launched a program called Lalu Lenders that allows people to test out a “pre-loved” wrap for a week at a time to see if it is love before they purchase it. I think it is an interesting way to let more and more people experience the beautiful work coming out of this woven design studio. I am really looking forward to seeing what they come out with this next year!


Action Shot in the sun in a Double Hammock
Action Shot in the sun in a Double Hammock

*** I was not compensated in any way for this review. I have never been employed by Lalu Wovens or offered money in exchange for a positive review of their product. They have agreed to let me give this wrap that I used for the review away on my Facebook Page as a part of my International Babywearing Week 2016 celebration.****

Review: Oscha Libero Waikiki – A Fun New Blend by a Classic Brand

Double hammock knot shot in Oscha Libero Waikiki
Double hammock knot shot in Oscha Libero Waikiki

The Oscha Slings Libero Waikiki arrived here back in June. These days I wrap my four year old so rarely, it took me way longer to get around to writing this review than I anticipated. Oscha was one of my favorite wrap companies in the early days of wrapping. I have owned many of their woven artworks over the years, and was admittedly very excited when they asked me to review one of their new blends as a part of the Oceania Collection.


Oscha Slings is a family owned company based in Scotland. The father-daughter team behind the company Mike and Zoe Masters, are committed to supporting their local economy and the rich carrying traditions of their own culture. For this reason, they proudly weave all of their fabrics in the UK, with the bulk of their manufacturing taking place in-house in Scotland. They initially began their journey grad dying Irish Linen, and then began working on their own Jacquard Woven Wraps. Although many of their designs are inspired by the beauty and natural elements in the Scottish landscape, they also have been known to borrow heavily from other cultures such as many of the Japanese designs they are famous for.


A shot from the back - you can see the grad very nicely
A shot from the back – you can see the grad very nicely

The Libero Waikiki wrap is inspired by the Art Nouveau movement in Italy, while the colorway is inspired by tropical scenes – like the rest of the pieces in the Oceania Collection. I have mainly wrapped with Oscha Linen, and this new blend was completely unique in hand compared to other wraps I have tested. It is 40% Organic Combed Cotton, 17% Linen, 30% Wool, and 13% Silk. This combination of fibers, as Zoe explained, is part of their journey to “try to satisfy as broad a range of customer requirements as possible and to find new wrapping experiences for customers”. That was exactly what came to mind when I read what the blend was! A little bit of something for everyone! This wrap had some really interesting wrapping qualities. The combed cotton made the wrap really soft after only one wash. The linen gave this wrap a really sturdy feel, making it appropriate for larger babies (or 31 lb. toddlers). The wool gave it a bounce and a cush which contributed to the support of the weave without a lot of the diggy feel that made me trade some of my other linen/cotton Oscha’s once the Dragon Baby got to be around 20 lbs. The Silk contributed to the passes gliding really smoothly in all the multi-pass carries we were trying out, and gave the wrap a nice fuzzy hairy feel that I have come to love in silk wraps. Silk can sometimes get pretty diggy too, so it was nice to see it in a combination that would be suitable for older kids as well as tiny babies. This combined with the unique wrapping characteristics of the fabric blend, makes for a really awesome wrap that can be worn with a squishy infant or a heavy toddler alike. It is definitely a wrap that you need to read the washing instructions on though. Hand wash only, which is a big reason I don’t own many interesting blends. I am a machine wash only kind of a girl.


Working while wearing in a Front Wrap Cross Carry
Working while wearing in a Front Wrap Cross Carry

I tried this wrap first in a Front Wrap Cross Carry. Not my typical choice for a toddler whose head I can no longer see over, but she was having a rough day and needed some cuddles. I spent about 45 minutes with her on my front while I finished up some work at the office. It was plenty supportive, without straining my shoulders like many thinner wraps. This wrap weighs in at approximately 237 g/m^2 which puts it right in the category of medium thickness. It feels quite breathable though, a combination of the linen, and the airy weave of the fabric. It felt cool even in the heat of the summer in a multi-pass carry.

Oscha Libero Waikiki in a Front Wrap Cross Carry Tied at Shoulder
Oscha Libero Waikiki in a Front Wrap Cross Carry Tied at Shoulder

The next day I wore it in a Front Wrap Cross Carry Tied at the shoulder. This too surprisingly held up well under the 31lbs of my daughter on my front side. I decided to try out some back carries in it, so I tried both a ruck with the tails threaded through the shoulders, and a double hammock. The wrap was a little bit too thin to wear her for long in the ruck, I prefer a much much floofier, thicker wrap for those kinds toddler single pass carries… but the Double Hammock was amazing. Not only was it effortless to get those cross passes in place and tightened, but it had just the right amount of grip to hold them there without adding any resistance while wrapping. I can see this being an awesome ruck wrap with a smaller baby, but I prefer some multi-pass carries with my daughter in this wrap. I wore her in the double hammock for a long walk, and she was weightless because I was able to get such an amazing wrap job. I wish I had more time to try out some fancy finishes with this, because I am sure it would be lovely for that!

Parking lot wrapping my 4 year old
Parking lot wrapping my 4 year old

In learning about Zoe and Oscha as a brand, I was reminded of some of my favorite parts of this industry. The appreciation of traditional textiles, and the support of family businesses and local artisans is something that many of my favorite carrier companies have in common. Oscha was started when Zoe had 3 children under two years old – a toddler and twin babies! She admits that though she often felt some guilt for the amount of time she put into starting the business in the beginning – she felt such a drive to share with her children her creative and entrepreneurial spirit – it propelled her forward. She loves bringing her kids into the office and the space where they manufactured the carriers, to show them the work that their family is involved in.


Comfortably strolling with 32 lbs of preschooler in a Double Hammock
Comfortably strolling with 32 lbs of preschooler in a Double Hammock

Oscha has a design team based in Japan that has been an instrumental part in creating many of their iconic wraps.  Zoe found herself inspired by much Japanese classical art and design through her travels there, and decided to expand their team into that region to be sure that correct attention was being paid to respecting the cultures they are inspired by. I am happy to hear that, as they have had some problematic designs in the past. It is something I personally grapple with on a regular basis, as I truly love their products. They have recently released a design created with Australian Aboriginal Artist Elizabeth Close, and another piece with Ali Yee – a designer with Filipino roots who is creating work inspired by traditional tribal tattoos. I am excited to be able to admire the masterpieces these collaborations are producing, and hope that they will continue to grow as a brand and do more to contribute to the communities and artisans they are so inspired by.

Snuggles from the Dragon Baby
Snuggles from the Dragon Baby

Oscha is known for creating beautiful, wearable pieces of art. They are released in limited quantities – this Libero Waikiki is one of only 11 that were woven. This makes them highly collectible, and highly sought after. The quality of the yarn, the unique blends, and the captivating designs make them a brand that garners many devout followers. I asked Zoe out of all the patterns they ever wove if she had any personal favorites, and she went for some of (self-described) “underdogs” Eire and Teo, while pegging Victoriana as a design she initially did not like as much… but really grew on her over time. I actually felt the same way about Nouveau initially – though it is one of my favorites now.

Oscha have contributed some really novel ideas to the world of woven wraps, such as the concept of themed collections, and the multi-color warps which were quite unique when they started using them. It is these innovative qualities that will always make this company stand out in the world of High End woven wraps, qualities that will ensure they stay relevant in this wrapping game for years to come.

Big Kid riding on my level. <3
Big Kid riding on my level. ❤

*** I was not compensated by anybody (including Oscha Slings) for this review, nor asked or coerced into say anything about them specifically. They decided to let me use this wrap in a Giveaway on my Facebook Page after I was finished reviewing it. ***

Toddlerwearing – A Primer on Toddler Carriers



Jade of Wee Kings wearing her toddler
Jade of Wee Kings wearing her toddler

People always have something to say when they see me wearing my 3.5 year old daughter in a baby carrier. Some are judgmental in tone, others just inquisitive or slightly concerned for the both of us. I understand the curiosity. Toddlerwearing is not something that people are used to seeing in much of the western world. It can seem a little ridiculous to some people to be carrying around a 30 lb child who is fully capable of walking at this point. So, why do it? Is it something I am doing just for my own amusement? Is it still beneficial for my toddler?  Is it creating bad habits in her? Is it really uncomfortable to wear your toddler? If you wanted to continue wearing your toddler, are some carriers better suited than others? This and many other valid questions about toddlerwearing are what I hope to shed some light on here.


What is Toddlerwearing?

Matt from Smitten With Wovens reads to his toddler
Matt from Smitten With Wovens reads to his toddler

Well, a toddler can be loosely defined as any child who has started walking. On average, we are referring to a 1-3 year old child – though I have seen people wear their much older children too. Toddlerwearing, is the act of wearing said “older” child in a cloth baby carrier. Though not as common in western cultures, this practice is currently in use and has been for generations in cultures where Babywearing has traditionally been practiced.

Culturally, we have come to identify independence as a desirable trait, meaning that young children in our society are encouraged to walk by this age. If any of you actually have a toddler (or have ever seen one in a mall or amusement park) you may have noticed that toddlers are not capable of walking the distances or sheer amount of time that adults are. This conundrum leads to the vast majority of parents I see on the streets carrying 35 pound sacks of sleeping toddler through crowds at the end of the nights’ activities, people trying to simultaneously hold said toddlers while pushing empty strollers through a crowd, or even embarrassingly trying to scrape tantrum-ing toddlers off the floors of shopping malls while juggling bags of merchandise and avoiding judgmental stares when their kids have reached the point of meltdown. Don’t get me wrong… toddlerwearing is not going to prevent your kid from doing any of the aforementioned things… but it will give you one more tool in your toolbox that is tried and true – and who would turn their nose down to that?


Is wearing her mostly for my own amusement at this point?

Toddler ruck in the 99 Ranch – Bijou Birch Blast

I LOVE baby carriers. Any excuse to wear a baby, I will take it. But my enthusiasm for strapping 31 lbs of wriggling threenager onto my back… is waning at this point. Sure, there are times when I believe that I am most certainly wearing her for my own benefit. For example, the other day we went to the Deli. I was trying desperately to look at the order form for the Sandwiches that was right in front of my face. My daughter and I were both starving, and were running late for a lunch playdate. I read the same line on the menu for the tenth time as my daughter ran up and down the aisles of the store running her hand across everything at her eye level despite a dozen requests from me to come and stand close and behave herself. I could feel my blood pressure rising, and my frustration with her for just being a normal toddler was getting the best of me. I opened my mouth to really vent my irritation at her… then caught myself. How much easier could this whole situation be if I just put her up in the Ergo that was dangling from my waist? “Come here honey” I coaxed. She tried to get away for a brief second, then settled in to the carrier with no effort and laid her head against my back. It became obvious to me that she needed to be contained at that moment just as much as I needed her to be contained. A crowded Deli counter during the lunch rush can be a really overwhelming place for a toddler – and as articulate as she is… she did not have the means to express that. Although wearing her was a convenience for me, it was a necessity for her.

Torso carry in line at the amusement park
Torso carry in line at the amusement park

When we are waiting in line for 30 minutes at an amusement park – you better believe we are mutually benefitting from having her in a carrier. When we have to walk a mile in a crowded mall parking lot – she is exponentially safer on my back than she is walking along beside me. At a festival or crowded outdoor event? So much easier to maneuver through the crowds with my toddler on my back instead of pushing around a stroller and having to deal with its whereabouts at all times (the stroller, not the toddler). The reality of the situation, is that I do not even know if I could carry her any reasonable distance in my arms at this point. She is a big kid – but she still needs to be carried sometimes.


Are we instilling bad habits in our kids by wearing them instead of letting them walk?

Any parent of a teenager will tell you that eventually the majority of children will covet independence, and completely outgrow the need to be worn. I won’t be taking my daughter to her college classes strapped to my back. The times that we are not wearing them, will someday far outnumber the times that we were.


Reconnecting after a long day
Reconnecting after a long day

What I am doing by wearing her now, is responding to her confidently in the best way I know how. I am able to show her compassion, even when I am emotionally or mentally exhausted. It is easy enough to respond gently to a toddler when you are at your best, but when I am completely spent… I am grateful for any help I can get. By picking her up and holding her at my level (similarly to getting down to her level) I am showing her that I see her, and am doing the best I can to meet her needs in this moment. Developing this trust with her in my ability to respond appropriately to her cues, is going to contribute to us building this relationship prior to moving into more difficult periods of development when these established means of communication will be crucial.


Does wearing a toddler hurt? My kid is really heavy!

Wearing a toddler does not have to be a painful for the wearer or the wearee. I have definitely seen some internet clips of way-too-big children in a Baby Bjorn, so I guess I can understand why some people think that the idea of wearing a toddler in a carrier is pretty ridiculous. The most ubiquitous carrier on the market is a front pack carrier, so it is difficult for someone to picture a 25 lb 2 year old being comfortably worn in something like that. Even with an ErgoBaby carrier – one of the first mainstream ergonomic carriers you could buy – I see people wearing their toddlers all the time with serious fit issues, and really looking as if they are suffering under their child’s weight.

It doesn’t have to be like that!

Yes, you are always going to feel 30 lbs of weight strapped to your back. But how your body distributes that weight to better transport it is what makes the difference between a comfortable toddler carrier, and a miserable one. Although I call myself a lover of all carriers, this is really where the front pack carriers kinda piss me off. They become uncomfortable after like 15 lbs, causing many people just give up wearing at that point… or push through it but with negative feelings about wearing. They suffer because they see how much their baby enjoys being worn, and how much more convenient it is… but they either can’t/don’t want to spend the money on another carrier, or do not realize there is something better out there. Many people are done babywearing before they have even started, thanks to an uncomfortable or ill-fitting carrier.


Even if you have “the most comfortable carrier on the market”, if you are not wearing it properly – it’s going to hurt. Most of these carriers are designed to distribute a lot of weight into the waistband, like a hiking backpack. You should not be carrying it all on your shoulders. Having the carrier fit you snugly will also contribute to your comfort greatly. Having all the weight leaning back away from you will cause your body to strain to support it, instead of just using the design of the carrier to ergonomically distribute the weight. Don’t just wing it! Get some help with the fit if it isn’t love.


What’s the best toddler carrier on the market?

That’s a loaded question. What am I wearing? Where am I going? What we will be doing? For how long will I be wearing her? Is the ground going to be filthy? What’s the weather like?  Can I only bring one carrier?


There is no best carrier. It is completely dependent on your particular situation as a wearer. The shape of your body, where you like to carry the weight, the temperament of your toddler, if you plan to share carriers with various caregivers, the climate where you live, what you plan to use the carrier for mostly, what your budget is, what kinds of fabrics and textiles you like to wear… all of these things are important things to ask yourself when choosing a carrier. Just because your friend got a carrier that she thinks is the absolute best thing ever, and you totally have to get one…. doesn’t mean that you are going to feel the same way about it. Don’t let yourself down by grabbing the first carrier someone recommends to you! Ask yourself the same kinds of questions you would when selecting a stroller or a car seat. Do research, have an opinion, ask questions!

That being said…. There are a lot of different carriers on the market that can comfortably fit a toddler! I will give you a little overview here.

Standard Size Soft Structured Carriers

***Fore reference: My daughter the Dragon Baby is 3.5 years old, 3′ Tall, and 31 lbs. in these photos***

These carriers are standard size buckle carriers, but can be worn with toddlers as well. This list is by no means exhaustive, these are just some common carriers that are easy to get your hands on that work really well with older kids as well. I recognize not everyone has the budget or the interest to keep buying new carriers, so one of these may be a better fit if you are looking for something to use once you are out of that newborn stage, until well through toddlerhood.

ErgoBaby with a toddler


ErgoBaby Original

MSRP $ 120      (7-45 lbs)  13” Height x 14” width

Features: Affordable, easy to find and purchase. Padded straps, structured waistband, hood, storage pocket.


Onya Baby with a toddler
Onya Baby with a toddler


Onya Baby Cruiser

MSRP $ 129      (15-45 lbs)  18” Height x 11.5” width

Features: Crossable straps, toy loops, structured waist (foam), built in high chair, tall back panel paired with narrower width makes these ideal for tall toddlers with shorter legs who don’t quite fit the other toddler carriers.

Olives & Applesauce with a toddler
Olives & Applesauce with a toddler


Olives & Applesauce

MSRP $ 150      (25-50 lbs)  19” Height x 15” width

Features: Crossable straps, hood, pocket, structured waistband, seat darts for nice, deep seat, padding on the leg openings, dual adjust straps. Fully adjustable, great for petite wearers!


Lillebaby with a toddler
Lillebaby with a toddler


Lillebaby All Seasons

MSRP $150    (7-45 lbs)     14” height (+5” with headrest up) x 16.5” Width

Features: Crossable straps, hood, lumbar support pad, structured waistband, the seat can be adjusted to fit a smaller baby, and it has an ergonomic Front Facing Out option. It also has a zip down panel on the body exposing mesh for more air circulation.

Tula (Standard)

MSRP $ 149      (15-45 lbs)       15.5” Height x 14.5” width

Features: Perfect Fit Adjusters, detachable hood, structured padded straps, padding on leg openings, pocket.


Kinderpack (Standard)

MSRP $ 164      (18-50 lbs)  16” Height x 17” width

Features: Seat darts for really deep seat, dual adjust buckles, Perfect Fit Adjusters, crossable padded straps, hood, pocket, and headrest. They sell waistband extenders too!


Toddler Sized Soft Structured Carriers

These buckle carriers are called “toddler carriers”, but many of them would fit an average preschooler. I would not put an 18 month old into any of these… we are talking 2T-3T pants here! Most of them have larger panels for the child, and higher weight limits too.


Lillebaby with a threenager
Lillebaby with a threenager

Lillebaby Carry-On Air

MSRP $ 140      (20-60 lbs)  20” Height x 18” width

Features: Two-way adjustable straps, crossable straps, Perfect Fit Adjusters, lumbar support pad, hood, pockets, wide padded shoulder straps, wide structured waist band.




Toddler Tula

MSRP $ 169      (25-50 lbs)  18” Height x 19” width

Features: Perfect Fit Adjusters, detachable hood, pocket, wide padded shoulder straps, structured waistband, padding at leg openings.

BECO Toddler with a 3 year old
BECO Toddler with a 3 year old


Toddler Beco

MSRP $ 180     (20 – 60 lbs)  19.5” Height x 18” width

Features: Perfect Fit Adjusters, hide-able hood, 3-point safety buckle, waistband pocket, crossable wide-padded shoulder straps, structured waist, padding at leg openings, sturdy canvas panel. Incredibly high weight limit. This carrier is more like a Pre-school carrier than a toddler carrier.


Toddler ABC

MSRP $119      (15-45 lbs)  18” Height x 19” width

Featured: Padded unstructured waist, crossable foam padded straps, hood, most inexpensive Toddler carrier on the market, folds up very compact.

Toddler Lenny Lamb with a 3 year old
Toddler Lenny Lamb with a 3 year old


Toddler Lenny Lamb

MSRP $ 150      (20 – 44 lbs)  18.9” Height x 17.7” width

Features: Perfect Fit Adjusters, crossable straps, two-way adjustable straps, cinch-able hood, padded unstructured waistband, contoured body panel, padded leg openings, safety buckles.


Toddler Kinderpack with a 3 year old
Toddler Kinderpack with a 3 year old


Toddler Kinderpack

MSRP $179       (25-50 lbs)  18” Height x 19” width

Features: Crossable straps, Perfect Fit Adjusters, two-way adjustable wide padded straps, hide able hood, structured waistband, pocket, padded leg openings. Available in Standard or XL straps.


Kanga XT

MSRP $180       (30 – 60 lbs)  16+5” (Headrest) Height x 14-18” width

Features: Padded unstructured all fabric waistband, removable buckles on waistband, flat back panel, high density foam straps, padded side extensions Designed to sit on waist rather than hips. Available for custom order with XS or XL straps.

Kokadi Flip Toddler XL with a three year old
Kokadi Flip Toddler XL with a three year old


Kokadi Flip Toddler XL

MSRP $205 (Up to 33 lbs) 16.5″ (Height) x 20.5″ width

Features: Lightly structured foam waistband, fully adjustable body panel, very wide seat that is cinchable as well, adjustable hood, thick padded contoured straps, wrap fabric panel, Personal Fit Adjusters.


Front Carry in Soul Toddler SSC
Front Carry in Soul Toddler SSC


Soul Toddler

 MSRP $101  (Up to 55 lbs) 18.5″ (Height) x 19″ Width

Features: Full wrap conversion jacquard fabric, lightly structured foam waistband, adjustable hood, padded straps, Personal Fit Adjusters, legs out padding, lightweight breathable airy weave – great for heat.




Standard Sized Meh Dai’s

This style of carrier originated in Asia, and has been modified by westerners to resemble the carrier that we see readily available today. It is very adjustable and versatile. You can wear it in a front carry, a back carry, and a hip carry. It can be used with an infant, or a toddler. These listed below are standard size, but work well with toddlers as well.

*Note: This style of carrier was (and still is by some brands) referred to mistakenly as a “Mei Tai”. The correct spelling/pronunciation of the carrier is Meh Dai (Cantonese) or Bei Dai (Mandarin). For more info check out this original post by those behind the #notyourpodbutai movement

Catbird Baby Mei Tai with a toddler
Catbird Baby Meh Dai with a toddler


CatBird Meh Dai 

MSRP $ 89     (8-40 lbs)  23” Height x 16” width

Features: Lightly Padded headrest, padded straps, unstructured waist, hood, elastic to adjust body panel for a newborn.



Babyhawk Meh Dai

MSRP $ 90      (8-40 lbs)  18.5” Height x 16.5” width

Features: Heavily Padded headrest, padded straps, unstructured waist, reversible. Can be ordered with XL straps.

BB Tai with a toddler
BB Tai with a toddler



MSRP $109       (8 – 35 lbs)  15.75” Height x 15.75” width

Features: Removable insert for infant, unpadded wrap style straps (for extra toddler support), woven fabric, unpadded headrest/half hood, padded waist, carrying pouch, organic.


Linen Soul Meh Dai on the subway steps

Soul Meh Dai (Linen)

MSRP $ 87      (15 – 40 lbs)  16.5” Height x 15” width

Features: Lightly padded wrap style straps, woven linen fabric, hood, unpadded waistband, lightweight and breathable, incredibly compact.




Using the Wrap Style Straps for better toddler weight distribution
Using the Wrap Style Straps for better toddler weight distribution



MSRP $ 119      (3 months – 33lbs)  9.4 – 18.9” Height x 4.5-17.8” width

Features: 4 way adjustable panel (to accommodate most sizes of baby), padded-to-wrap straps, padded waistband, hood, woven fabric.





Toddler Sized Meh Dai’s

These Meh Dai’s are designed with slightly larger body panels to accommodate bigger children. Though a standard Meh Dai can also be used for a toddler, one of these carriers may provide more coverage and support (and thereby comfort) to both you and your child.

Toddlerhawk Meh Dai

MSRP $110     (15-45 lbs)  23.5” Height x 19.5” width

Features: Padded headrest, padded straps, unstructured waist, reversible. Can be ordered with XL straps. The colors and prints as well as strap lengths are customizable on their website.

Toddler Lenny Lamb Mei Tai with a 3 year old
Toddler Lenny Lamb Meh Dai with a 3 year old


Lenny Lamb Toddler Meh Dai

MSRP $125     (20-44 lbs)  21” Height x 15.75” width

Features: Padded structured headrest, wide padded shoulder straps, padded unstructured waist, extra long straps, woven fabric.



Woven Wraps

IndaJani wovens are a favorite of mine for toddler cush
IndaJani wovens are a favorite of mine for toddler cush

This is long, very versatile woven piece of rectangular fabric ranging in length from 2.7 – 5.6 meters. Though they have a slight learning curve, and toddlers are not always the most willing wrappees… for me, nothing beats a wrap for comfort in a situation where I will be wearing for an extended period of time. It can be tied a multitude of ways, to distribute the weight to whatever part of my body I feel most comfortable wearing it at the moment. Though most woven wraps can work with any size baby, there are some that are known to be particularly “toddler worthy” either for their thickness, their support, their density, their width, or many other categories it may belong to that people find desirable when wearing their toddlers. Some work better as short wraps in single-pass carries, and others are better as long wraps where you can really spread out the weight across the fabric. Are you blinking at the screen right now wondering what you just read? You might need a primer on woven wraps.

Smitten’s are one of my personal favorites for everyday toddler wrapping.

Below are just some of my personal favorites in my few years’ experience wrapping. There are dozens more brands out there to check out, most of which I have also had great experiences with. In general I have a preference for 100% cotton or a linen or hemp blend when I am planning to be wearing my toddler, but there are a lot of other unique eco-blends on the market currently that are known to be very supportive for toddlers.

Some of my personal wider, thicker favorites for rucking toddlers are:  Pavo, IndaJani, Bijou, Tekhni, Smitten With Wovens

Some of my favorite wider, thinner, toddler worthy wraps best for multi-pass carries are: Dolcino, BB Slen, Storchenwiege, Ellevill, Lenny Lamb, Risaroo, Soul Slings, C & C


Ring Slings

Tala Seren Ring Sling with a 3 year old.
Tala Seren Ring Sling with a 3 year old.

I love wearing my toddler in a ring sling! I admit it is not as comfortable at 30 lbs as it was at 20 lbs, but there are still situations in which I like having her on my hip. When we are somewhere like the bank, or an evening party, or a wedding reception, where she would much rather be on my hip and participating in the conversations that are happening – I will take the ring sling along with me. If I just need to get her in and out of the car up the stairs – ring sling for the win. If I am taking her to the doctor and she needs to be held for an exam, the ring sling gives her security while still making her accessible to the physician. Dinner parties, long-haul airplane flight, waiting in line for a table at a crowded restaurant… all of these are times that are perfect for wearing a ring sling.

The majority of ring slings on the market can be used for toddlers, but many wearers prefer Double Layer linen, a Woven Wrap Conversion, or Double Layer silk when wearing their toddlers. The shoulder style can make a difference too, a lot of people prefer a gathered or hybrid shoulder for better weight distribution while wearing a bigger kid.

Some reputable Ring Sling makers to check out: Sakura Bloom, Soul Slings, Sleeping Baby Productions, Zanytoes, Maya Wrap are all solid brands, and many of the Woven Wrap producers have their own line of Wrap Conversion slings that hold up nicely to toddlers.


There are community organizations where you can go to try on carriers, and get help with things like getting your toddler onto your back. Or why not hire a Certified Babywearing Educator to come and teach you the toddlerwearing ropes? If trial and error isn’t your thing, hire a professional! It does not have to be totally overwhelming to choose something that will work for your family. Any effort put into it will be totally worth it.


A solid toddler carrier is a great investment. The value is so much more than monetary! As toddlerwearing starts to gain in popularity as a parenting tool in the western world, we are beginning to see a lot more of it around in the media. Hopefully this will help to normalize this tried and true parenting practice for everyone. Though people are trying to spin it as a new-fangled thing, educators know that this practice is a enduring one – one that has been around as long as there have been toddlers.


***Please note this list is not exhaustive. These are some of my personal favorites. I look forward to adding more toddler carriers as they come out!***

Review: Soul Meh Dai – The Latest Edition to the Soul Family

Subway steps in Tokyo

If you have followed my blog for any length of time on Social Media… you may already know by now that I am a HUGE fan of the Soul  Meh Dai. This linen Wrap Style Meh Dai was created by Soul Slings – a newer brand hailing from India who is becoming well known for their gorgeous Handwoven Ring Slings. I have had this v.1 tester in my possession since Summer of 2015. Sorry Chinmayie, I am sure you have realized at this point that you are never getting it back. Talk about perma-stash!

It has taken me awhile to write this review, mostly because the supply of these Soul Meh Dai’s has been very limited. The fabric that Soul Slings sources is woven by small family-owned weavers in India, so the production runs have been small, and have quickly sold out. With MSRP around $87 direct from Soul Slings, no wonder these things are flying off the shelves. Though they are offering cotton Ikat version, the one I have been in possession of is a Linen/Chambray model – a perfect hot weather toddler Meh Dai.

Soul Tai Subway
Waiting for the train with my 3 year old

Last summer we took the Soul Meh Dai with us to Tokyo where I was teaching a seminar on Woven Wraps for Tokyo Babywearing Laboratory. It was August, and Japan was HOT. It was about 100 degrees, with like 90% humidity. We didn’t bring a stroller (totally impractical in such a crowded city where we were reliant on public transit) and the unbearable heat made our 3 year old… well… a bit unbearable herself. My partner and I ended up having to tote around 30 lbs of sweaty toddler on our backs for most of the trip. It made for the perfect conditions for testing out this linen Soul Meh Dai.


LOVE Wrap Style Straps for support for my leggy toddler

Generally speaking, Wrap Style Meh Dai’s are my go-to these days for wearing my big kid. The ease of obtaining a secure and well-adjusted carry is a plus, as is the ability to spread the straps. I use those spread straps not only for providing leg support for my toddler whose legs have long ago grown past the width of the panel, but I also can spread them across my body for optimal weight distribution. This Soul Meh Dai offered me all those benefits, and more. The shoulder straps are lightly padded in the center of the padded-to-wrap strap, giving you the ability to spread the shoulder in either direction. The linen was supportive for my big kid, and I did not experience the fabric digging into my shoulders, a problem often associated with linen carriers. To have that kind of support yet still be so very light and airy, was something much appreciated in the heat we were experiencing. The thin and lightweight fabric also made for a really compact carrier when I folded it down when not in use. The Soul Meh Dai does not have a padded waist, which contributes to its’ lack of bulk – which proved to be incredibly useful when we were pressed for space in our bags throughout the day.

Soul Tai next to my 3 year old’s Size 9 sneakers for size comparison

The panel height is 16.5” which is kinda right in the middle of most of the other major brands, but it was completely adequate to support my 3 foot toddler. The width of the panel is 15” across, which is actually the narrowest of all the other Meh Dai’s sold here in the states, but I barely even missed the width because of the wrap straps. The hood on the version I have was narrow and almost useless… but they have since improved upon the hood greatly. It is adjustable now with draw strings, and much wider than the one that was on the tester I had. Because of the pliability and thinness of the fabric, it is easy to modify this carrier to be used with a smaller baby  without it feeling too bulky or like they are swimming in fabric. I think this carrier is an awesome buy for someone who is budget conscious and wants to really get a lot of use out of their carrier. I also am very likely to recommend this to anyone looking for a great carrier for hot weather climates, or someone planning to take a trip to a warmer region of the world. These fabrics feel so rich and beautiful, and the price is astoundingly accessible, it is no wonder you hear me singing the praises of this Soul Meh Dai again and again.


One small note about linen… it can take some breaking in. The tester I have now feels so buttery, it is soft and floppy and amazing. It is easy to forget how scratchy and harsh the fabric was when I first started using it. After a wash and air tumble, and a couple runs with the Iron on the Steam setting, this Meh Dai was well on the way to broken in. The padding in the straps also starts out a little stiff, but the more wear it gets, along with any effort put into breaking it in – will pay off in the end. Linen is one of my favorite fabrics for toddler support, but it doesn’t exactly come “ready to wear” usually.


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Chinmayie with her youngest in a Soul SSC

Soul Slings is one of those brands that feels good to support. The owners Chinmayie and Ravindra are babywearing and breastfeeding advocates, who feel strongly about supporting the local artisan weavers in their community who have been creating these gorgeous textiles for generations. All of the weavers are part of government run cooperative societies, ensuring that their work is fair-trade certified and that ideal work situations are maintained. As they have explained to me, their “team is composed almost entirely of working mothers from nearby areas, some of them either single or the sole wage-earner in their families”. They have actively taken part in promoting self suffieciency for the women they employ, with initiatives that promote health insurance, financial planning, and education of their children. Chinmayie often visits the weavers herself to make sure work standards are being maintained. Soul Slings began because they really wanted to make beautiful baby carriers at a price point that everyone could be comfortable with, while also supporting local industry. They believe deeply in the benefits and practice of Babywearing, and hope their affordable carriers will bring more people to want to reap the benefits that come with wearing your babies. I feel that they have been incredibly successful in this endeavor. It is so great to watch this brand grow! They currently have Woven Wraps, Ring Slings, and Mei Tai’s in their collection, with a Soft Structured Carrier coming soon. They even have some U.S. Distributors now! Follow them on Facebook to find out more about their upcoming releases.


Review: Apple Blossom Wovens – Vintage Looms Creating Accessible, Wearable Art

Morning Glory v.1

A few months back, I saw a Morning Glory v.1 woven wrap pop up on my Instagram feed, and was immediately curious about this unique machine woven wrap that so closely resembled a handwoven in appearance. I reached out to Apple Blossom Wovens to learn more about them and their wraps, and was lucky to stumble upon a really awesome new American brand. They initially sent me 3 different wraps to review, an Heirloom v.1, an Heirloom with Tencel, and finally a Morning Glory v.1 – the same one I had seen a photo of. I am happy to review the Morning Glory prototype – which was truly a gorgeous piece of textile.


I received a Size 6 (5.2 meters) Morning Glory v.1 with a natural weft. Right out of the box I was enamored by the softness of the yarn. They are using Maurice Brassard yarn currently, which is sourced from Canada – though they are in the process of trying to switch over to a yarn that is produced in the U.S. The gradient weave was reminiscent of many popular handwoven brands, with that same point twill structure we are used to seeing. Weighing in at 280 g/m^2, this wrap is most definitely in the thick category. Despite its thickness, it is a really loose weave – making it breathable and airy for even hot weather wrapping. It wrapped pretty true to size, I was able to do all carries I would normally do in this length, without having to ‘size up’ due to thickness.

Front Wrap Cross Carry with a toddler


Our first carry in Morning Glory was (surprisingly) a Front Wrap Cross Carry. I almost never use this carry with my 31 lb 3.5 year old anymore – but I was trying to finish up a conference call… and my Dragon Baby was not cooperating. I wrapped her up and was able to comfortably wear her for the better part of an hour. The wrap was so soft and so cozy, it was perfect for bedtime cuddles. My daughter remarked that it was “softer than her blanket”. It had great support for a toddler in this multi-pass carry!




Double Hammock shows off the gradient nicely.

Next time we wore it was in a Double Hammock. This wrap really shines in this carry! The multiple passes give you excellent support, and you can’t beat that chest pass for showing off the gradient. The smoothness of the yarn makes those cross-passes slide effortlessly, the diagonal stretch allows you to get a really snug fit – even with a giant toddler. I did not have to do any wrestling to get these passes in place, and they stayed nicely once tied off. After a half hour hiking around the farm, I experienced no movement from the wrap. More importantly, we were both very comfortable by the end of that excursion.


I tried it another time in a ruck tied Tibetan, but I liked it a lot less in this carry. Here the diagonal stretch that I loved in the multi-pass carries, led to a bit of sagging in this single-pass carry. That is not to say that it would not be great with a smaller baby… but I needed a little bit more recovery with my 3.5 year old. I can see this being great as a Rebozo with a small baby though! I would not discount it all together as a shorty wrap – I just personally found it to be a great fit for my bigger wearee in a multi-pass carry.


Knot Shot with a leggy 3 year old in Morning Glory v.1

These wraps are 100% cotton, easy to care for. The wrapping qualities make it a solid choice for a new or seasoned babywearer. Although thick, it was not bulky and I don’t feel like it would overwhelm a smaller baby. Overall, what I found most appealing about these wraps was that you could obtain the same beautiful look and wrapping qualities of a more expensive handwoven wrap – at a machine woven price point. A Size 6 will run you about $180 which places it in the mid-range category. This is actually one of the original aims of the company – to make this style of woven wrap accessible to those wrappers who may not be able to afford the highly sought after handwovens.

Lisa &amp; Emmy
Lisa and her daughter in a wrap she wove herself

Apple Blossom Wovens was started by Lisa Carter about a year ago. She was inspired by the beauty of the handwoven scene, but found that her financial situation would not allow her to afford many of these pieces of woven art. Lisa knew that if she was in that situation, there must be other caregivers who also appreciated the beauty of these wovens, but were unable to commit to the price points associated with the market. Having had an interest in handcrafts and textiles for most of her life, she happily began to research looms and different weaving styles to try and find a way to make this style of gradient wrap more accessible. Lisa sought out a local weaver’s guild in Ohio, and learned to weave her own woven wrap. She quickly realized that the time and effort put into hand weaving was what contributed to the pricing, and decided that there must be a way to accomplish this same look with a power loom. Her search led her to a family owned mill in Pennsylvania, where a father and son team was weaving textiles on this 90 year old Vintage Draper Dobby loom. These weavers have over 100 years weaving experience between them, and were able to work with Lisa to create the type of gradient weave she had been imagining. And so, Apple Blossom Wovens was born.


Apple Blossom Wovens is a husband and wife team. While Lisa is responsible for the designs and the brand marketing, her husband helps with accounting, and puts his art degree to good use consulting on color design and theory alongside Lisa. It is a far cry from the Mathematics Degree Lisa had started out towards, but having this business allows her to work from home and spend time with her children – something she feels lucky to be able to do. Her passion for supporting the American textile industry keeps her working only with small weavers based in the United States, and her products have been finished by a local seamstress. Her newest batch of ring slings will be finished by Going Uppy, another work at home mom that she is thrilled to support.


Heirloom v.1 prototype

I mentioned they are sourcing the yarn from Canada, which is in part because the only U.S. producer they can find has a minimum order of about 5 times the amount they actually needs for a 100 yard production run. They were previously using a yarn sourced locally – this was what the Heirloom v.1 tester I had the opportunity to try was woven with. Lisa described it as being “rough and hard to break in”, though I think she is being really diplomatic. It was pretty sand-papery and had no give to it. When I received it, I mentioned I was going to wash it… and was shocked to hear it had already been washed and worn! I am happy that they have moved on from that source, it was pretty unwearable. As the production runs start to increase, they aim to start sourcing the yarn here in the states.


The liability involved in manufacturing baby carriers makes securing funding via bank loans and private investors a real hurdle to get over. Lisa found this out first hand, and ultimately borrowed from her family’s savings account to fund the initial investment that started Apple Blossom Wovens. Since then, every production run is financed by the profits from the previous run – meaning that production quantities are increasing… but gradually. A standard 100 yard run returns about 17 wraps and 2 ring slings. This seems like a very limited quantity to us as consumers, but only because we are not accustomed to manufacturers actually communicating the amount of wraps they are releasing. These numbers are quite standard across the industry, with many smaller mills having a standard minimum order of 100 yards.


View of the Vintage Loom in progress

Lisa’s an avid babywearer herself. She wore everything from a Baby Bjorn after the birth of her first daughter in 2008, to her first wrap – a Girasol No.22, which she eventually sold to finance a Didymos Ornament. When she set out to create Apple Blossom Wovens, she wanted to create a beautiful but accessible brand that thrifty families like her own could justify splurging on. These wraps are one of a kind. None of them will be re-woven ever… making them collectible pieces of art. For Lisa, this fits into the philosophy of wanting to make wraps for frugal families. With the saturation of the woven wrap market currently, it is important to her that families investing in her product will be able to retain the value of the carrier in the resale market –  a market that was a big part of her personal wearing journey.


When asked about her influences, Lisa said:

“I can’t say that one particular company has influenced me, but rather the industry as a whole; it’s an industry almost exclusively run by strong, entrepreneurial women, with the same family responsibilities as I have. That has been so encouraging to me, when I start to get overwhelmed with juggling family and work responsibilities.”

I completely agree. Her story, and the stories of so many other women in this industry have been a huge inspiration to me. It has been a real pleasure to work with Apple Blossom Wovens on this piece, and to be a part of their journey. I am so excited for their next release! Keep an eye out on their website or Facebook Page for upcoming pre-orders – this is definitely a brand to watch out for.

Apple Blossom Wovens Morning Glory v.1 with my 3.5 year old toddler


BB-Slen Caramel Review: A Classic Brand, A Fresh Look

A happy Dragon Baby in BB-Slen Caramel
A happy Dragon Baby in BB-Slen Caramel

The Belgium brand Babylonia makes one of my favorite Wrap Conversion Mei-Tai’s – the BB Tai – so I of course was very excited when Nova Naturals (their U.S. distributor) asked me to review one of their newer wraps. I have had the pleasure of using some of the earlier BB-Slen releases in a few of our local Babywearing International learning libraries, but these wraps were never on my radar because they had a pretty limited selection of patterns. Recently, they have added a few new weaves and colorways, really diversifying their collection.


I was sent a BB-Slen Caramel in a Size 6 (4.6 meters). The name is a bit deceiving, this wrap was pretty Orangey (one of my favorite colors) and I was so happy when I opened the box and saw this looking back at me. The other striped wraps I have tried by them have been thin, but this wrap weighed in at 281 g/m^2  which is actually pretty thick. After a wash and air-dry, this 100% cotton wrap came out so, so soft and airy. It took absolutely no breaking in. Despite being so thick, it has this really breathable weave that makes it feel like it would be perfect for a warmer climate, and it’s pliable enough that I knew it would wrap pretty true to size without a knot the size of my head. If you have ever felt a Pavo Penumbra, it resembles that wrap in a lot of ways, but with the dryness and airiness of some of the Didymos India’s I have felt. In other words, it has a lot of redeeming qualities for a wrap at such a great price point – and why shouldn’t it? Babylonia has been in this industry for over a decade.


Double Hammock with a half-knot chest belt
Double Hammock with a half-knot chest belt

I tried it first in a Double Hammock. When you are wrapping a 31 lb 3.5 year old, that is pretty much the go-to carry. This time I finished it with a half-knot chest belt. First thing I noticed was the width of the wrap. This woven was 27.5” across (70 cm) giving me ample fabric with which to create a deep seat for my leggy toddler while still having plenty of slack at the top to provide her upper back support. This weave has a lot of grip. It has this light fuzz over the surface that really helps to lock your passes into place. With the thickness and the grip, I did have to put a little work into tightening it – but I was by no means wrestling with it. It did in fact wrap true to size. I wore my Dragon Baby down for her bedtime – a time consuming process – and it remained comfortable through the whole daunting ordeal. I didn’t even feel any pressure from the knot on my chest. Once she was ready to get down, there had been no movement in the wrap whatsoever. There is not much bounce in this weave, just tons of support for even your biggest wearee.


Ruck with Xena finish in progress
Ruck with Xena finish in progress

I wanted to give it a chance in a single-pass carry too. We took a ‘witching hour’ walk around the neighborhood in a Ruck with a Xena finish. This wrap is great for sling ring finishes! It glides through the rings easily, but stayed in place right where I put it. With this carry I often need to stop to tighten it after some time if I am using a thinner wrap, but the grip really kept everything in place nicely with this BB-Slen. After a long walk, I still felt great! There was no pulling or straining on my shoulders even in a ruck! This wrap most definitely stands up to a toddler, something that earlier BB-Slen releases have been known for.


With the wideness and thickness of this wrap, you might think that maybe it is only great for experienced wrappers and toddler wearers. Absolutely not! The softness and flexibility of this wrap makes it a great choice for a newborn – the fuzzy feeling of the fabric seems perfect for little squish cuddles. The fact that it took no effort to break in makes it a very approachable wrap for someone who is new to wrapping. And at $119 for a Size 6? You are getting a wrap of amazing quality at a budget price point – one that can comfortably last you through all your wearing days.


Close up of both sides of Caramel
Close up of both sides of Caramel in the setting sun

Did I mention they are woven with Organic Cotton, in Fair Trade workshops in India? The dyes used in the process are non-toxic as well. Babylonia prides itself on being a company who makes sustainable and natural products, and I for one have been a fan of just about everything these guys have introduced to the market. Owner Ingrid Guikers was an avid babywearer and is an educator herself, and you can really feel how she integrates her values into all the aspects of her business. It is the kind of company you feel good about supporting. And now with the addition of all these modern and stylish colorways – BB-Slen’s are going to continue to be a very popular choice for seasoned wearers and first time wrappers alike.



Review: Olives & Applesauce – A Carrier To Grow With

Olives & Applesauce from the back

Though many of you reading this may be new to Olives & Applesauce Soft Structured Carriers – these carriers are actually old-timers in this category. They have been collected and coveted as early as 2008… years before my daughter was even born. In June of 2013 Olives & Applesauce came under new ownership, and lots of exciting things have happened since then.

My experience with O&A was pretty limited before I received this carrier to review. The Babywearing International near me had a very old model in the Learning Library, and I honestly never paid it much mind. When this Standard Black carrier arrived at my house, I was really excited to see how it held up to my 31 lb 3 ½ year old. Their Standard carrier has an advertised weight limit of 50 lbs, though in testing it withstood standing and dynamic weights up to 95 lbs! That means even when you are maxing it out at its 50 lb weight limit – you can do so with confidence.

Being that this is a Standard sized carrier, concerns over whether the

Tall panel is supportive, but still allows her to reach out to grab things. 

panel height and width would offer adequate support for my wearee were definitely primary in my mind. The height of this Standard body panel is 19” tall – which is taller than the Toddler Tula (18”), the Toddler Lenny Lamb (18.9”), the Toddler Kinderpack (18”) and just shy of the Toddler Beco (19.5”). This meant that my daughter had more than adequate back support in this carrier, with the ability to tuck her arms in if she wanted. With such a tall panel, many of you may be wondering if this carrier would be appropriate for a smaller baby. One of the features of this O&A is a built in infant harness to allow for you to use this carrier for a baby as small as 8 lbs. Although I personally am not a fan of putting infants into Soft Structured Carriers – if that is something you are into… this carrier can do it.

Shot of the deep seat and leg padding

The panel height does not seem to affect my daughter’s comfort much – it is the width of the seat that she is usually more concerned over. The O&A measures 15” wide. This is wider than the Ergo (14”) and the Standard Tula (14.5”), and the Toddler Lenny Lamb (14.96”), while not quite reaching the width of the Standard Kinderpack (17”). The thing that really made this comfortable for her, was the deep seat created by the darts sewn into the panel. Although she was nowhere close to knee-to-knee in the seat, she sat in it comfortably with her bottom deep in the carrier. It also had really nice, thick padding in the leg openings, providing her with sufficient comfort for her dangling pony legs.

The waist on the carrier is wide and structured, with the padding measuring 23” – just shy of an Ergo at 23.5”. This was actually ideal for me as a petite wearer, because I was able to get the waistband very, very tight which I cannot do with some other SSC’s on the market.

The straps were reminiscent of the Kinderpack to me. They were soft and

You can see the straps bunching here – the only downside for me. 

wide and flat, padded but without much structure. I found them to be comfortable and to reduce any points of pressure on my body… but they bunched up a little where the chest clip wrapped around them, something I also dislike about most of the Wrap Conversion Full Buckles I have tried. It did not affect the comfort, but aesthetically it bothered me a little bit. This carrier has the ability to wear the straps both backpack style, or crossed on the back – I am a fan of this versatility. The O&A straps do not have Personal Fit Adjusters (PFA’s), but I did not miss them at all. The straps were dual adjusting, and I was able to get a very tight fit.

The fit was really what set this carrier apart for me. Though I love a lot of the other SSC’s on the market – many of them are difficult for me to fit properly on my body type. I tend to end up tightening the straps all the way, and my toddler can still lean away from me quite a bit. I usually counter this by either crossing the straps in a front carry, or wearing the waistband lower and lower on my hips in a back carry until I get a good fit… sometimes taking my pants along for the ride. This carrier is awesome for a petite wearer! The dual adjust on both the waist and the shoulder straps gave me a closer fit in a back carry than any other Soft Structured Carrier I have tried to date. This meant that long excursions to the grocery store, the mall, the park, any number of places I wore it… I felt comfortable and supported. It is no secret that I usually prefer wraps because of the more customized fit I can get… so I was surprised to find myself reaching for this O&A so often.

Doing the “lean test” for panel height

These carriers are designed for that family who is looking to buy “one carrier” to get them through their wearing years. With the built in infant insert, one of the highest weight limits on a Standard carrier in the industry, and such a tall panel height – they may actually have accomplished this goal. Their carriers retail for $150 for a base model, fitting comfortably into the mid-range category of carriers.

I am not the only one singing the praises of O&A. Jennifer, the owner of the brand, was an avid babywearer herself – wearing her sons until they were 4 years old. The decision to begin this journey started as a boutique owner in Vermont. They sold O&A carriers – which she described as her “favorite SSC line”. When she heard that the brand was for sale, she decided to buy it to make sure that these carriers stayed around. They have long since closed their retail store, and have devoted their efforts to building this brand. Olives & Applesauce is proud to manufacture this line of carriers in the USA, they are made by a small Mom run shop in Bellevue, Ohio. They maintain wonderful relationships with their sew house and retailers, and aim to create a sustainable and supportive business model with all of their decisions.

Olives & Applesauce has had an exciting year. They released a new Geek Line that has been very popular, and have a few new prints slated for release very soon. Jennifer also mentioned the upcoming release of an Olives & Applesauce LITE line, which will be a version of their Standard line with the infant insert and hood sold separately. It will be released in limited colors, produced overseas, and retail for around $99. A quality carrier at that price point is something to get really excited about – and excited I am.

A big Thank You to Olives & Applesauce for sending this carrier my way. This one is going to be hard to let go of, I have really enjoyed having it here. O&A has generously agreed to donate this carrier to our local BWI group… so at least I can visit with it still.

Toddler fun in Olives & Applesauce



Client: 5 Minute Recess

Client: 5 Minute Recess

Carriers: Lenny Lamb, Yaro

Photographer: Rachel Kathryn

Date: May 28, 2015

Client: 5 Minute Recess

Client: 5 Minute Recess

Carriers: Keppeke, Yaro

Photographer: Rachel Kathryn

Date: April 2015