Babywearing Celebration Day 2: Finding your Mama Groove (or Papa Groove).


Finding your groove as a new parent is not always easy. Everything is new. The learning curve is painfully steep. And the challenges keep coming. Babywearing might feel like one more wrench thrown into your day if you are a parent who just can't seem to get it.

Today I want to speak to those parents who found babywearing to anything but easy. I'm grateful to Cassandara for the raw honesty of her submission below:

I really want to have one of those touching stories you are seeking. But…


They cry. They always cry. I put them in the carrier and they squirm, scream and fight. I have had 3 babies and they have all acted the same way. At the farmer’s market I watch with envy the other mommies wearing their cozy, sleeping babies. Their hands are free as they shop, snack, knit, etc. Not me, as you can see from my pictures, I got to walk around the Field Museum in Chicago with a miserable 2 month old. Maybe it’s the carrier, or the angle, or me? I don’t know.



What kind of earthy mama am I if I can’t wear my baby? This is the question I ask myself every time I strap a baby to my chest. I am crafty and on-the-go and wearing my baby would be perfect.  I really, really want to!


Out of frustration I am driven to haiku…  

My heavy baby

Mommy needs her arms today

Don’t scream your head off

My heart goes out to Cassandra. I've been there. I've uttered the words "My baby hates baby carriers." And "Oh, no thanks. I don't use the carrier. It sucks." And "Look what I got done today with no hands!" (motioning towards piles of dirty dishes, crusty spit-up soaked towels, dirty diapers, and unfolded laundry).

I was a babywearing drop out. Like Cassandra, I had learned to loathe my carrier.

My story starts at the thrift store: I am extremely frugal and try to buy nearly everything second hand. When I was pregnant with Sage I purchased several used carriers (a front pack similar to the one above, a homemade front pack, a sling and an awkward backpacks). They seemed good enough at first glance: sturdy, a bit of padding, a reasonable price, and someplace to tuck my baby. (My extremely sensitive, particular, and communicative baby.)

The cheap carriers sucked and he let me know in no uncertain terms. He felt the same way about the stroller, so in arms he was (as I pushed the empty stroller back home with my knees). I essentially gave up on both babywearing and baby buggies within the first three weeks of Sage's life.

Enter the Sling-Wearing-Goddess-Friend into my life. Her (extremely sensitive, particular, and communicative) baby was happy as can be in their sling. Every time I saw them. No screaming. No arching. No shaking of wee fists in the air.

She suggested I give it another shot. "He's too old," I told her. (He was then a mature 5 months old. The same kid who now at 7 1/2 years still longs for the sling. Oh, the irony.) She wore me down and I agreed to give it another go.


Sage (age 1) and I in our sling

She hooked me up with an Over the Shoulder Baby Holder to try out and I was nothing short of amazed. He didn't scream. I didn't scream. So I bought one – brand new – on the spot. It was the best $50 I spent on that boy. We wore it daily until Sage was four and Lupine was born. Then Sage relinquished it to his baby sister. When we wore it out we purchased another Over the Shoulder (ironically at a thrift store.)

Since then we've had or made close to a dozen other carriers, but if you ask me which one owns my heart it's my sling. My dirty, tattered, threadbare, memory woven, badge of motherhood sling.

 But I digress.


The upshot is that be successful in wearing my baby I needed two things three things:

1. A mentor. Without the Sling Mama I never would have given carriers a second chance. (Love you, P.!)

2. A quality carrier. One that did not torture my baby by hanging him by his crotch (like many front packs do) or jam him into uncomfortable and unsafe contortions.

3. Confidence. (This one I added as an afterthought, but was key for me. I am sensitive, and my kids are sensitive. When I worried that they would hate it, they did. But when I knew it would be brilliant it was.)


Cassandra, I hope that helps a bit. Ditch your old carrier. (Some people swear by that type, but others say they hold the baby's pelvis in an awkward/unnatural position. For us it was a scream factory.) Invest in (or sew) an upgrade. Read some reviews, talk to other parents, try some on. Read the comments that parents leave here this week. I've already seen some great suggestions there. I hope you win one this week, mama. You've earned it!

The Giveaways

Onto the goodies. Today we are hosting three giveaways. One lucky winner will receive a padded ring sling from Over the Shoulder Baby Holder. I could talk for hours (and have) about the virtues of this particular sling. if you've been a close friend in the past 7 years and had a baby changes are if I didn't give you a Moby I gave you an Over the Shoulder when you were pregnant.

Another winner will receive the babywearing DVD Tummy2Tummy , as described yesterday.

A third winner will receive a digital copy of Mothering Magazine's Babywearing 101. (Also described in yesterday's post).

To be entered in the drawing please leave a comment below. I'd love to hear your thoughts on babywearing, something that inspired you to wear your baby, or a hope you hold in your heart. (One comment per person please.) Feel free to ask questions. I'll respond to just as many as I can. If you missed yesterday's post feel free to leave a comment there as well.

Comments are closed. I'll announce winners later this week!

To let more families know about this week's events, I encourage you to re-blog, post to your Facebook page, and share on Twitter. Thanks for spreading the word! I will close comments on Saturday, April 17 and announce all winners the following week.


Over the Shoulder Baby Holder

There are countless fancy, modern slings on the market. With great marketing and gorgeous fabrics and modern features. Sexy, sexy slings that you might just want to wear as an accessory, with our without the baby.

Over the Shoulder is not that sling. As opposed to sexy, they remind me a bit of myself in seventh grade. Not the prettiest girl in school (but lovely in her own right), a bit quiet, not the most popular but loved fiercely by those who have taken the time to connect, extremely hardworking, honest and easy to get along with. And one with strong ideals.

Underrated and wonderful, you might say.

We used our Over the Shoulder sling from the time Sage was six months old until he was 4. (And by then Lupine was occupying it.) Pete walked Sage to sleep in the woods behind our house in the sling every night. The first baby sign Sage made up was a sign for "sling". Sage even had a wee Over the Shoulder of his own for his babywearing adventures.


On the top shelf in my sewing room is what is left of our sweet baby sling after six years of constant use. I am making quilts for the kids. Each will contain a piece of the sling they were comforted and loved in for countless hours. That way they are always wrapped up in my mama love in that sling.


Below is my interview with Over the Shoulder Baby Holder. They are truly ethical, big-hearted, honest folks.

Clean: What is your company and how long have you been in business? 

OTSBH: We were the first company to manufacture baby slings back in 1987. Early on the Lord put on our hearts the desire to help children. We saw that all children responded to, blossomed, if you will, when they were nurtured in love.

  Clean: What makes your carrier one of the best? 

OTSBH: Our padded and adjustable sling allows the caregiver to exactly ‘mimic mom’s arms’. The padding supports the newborns head and torso so that they lie naturally rather than sagging into a ‘C’ shape, and we can see their face and check on their comfort. And being adjustable allows the caregiver to make the sling fit perfectly no matter if the baby grows, or if we change caregivers, or the baby changes positions.

Clean: Why do you believe caregivers wear their babies? 

With our first baby, my wife & I who were followers of Jean Liedloff’s Continuum Concept, determined to carry our babies every waking moment until they naturally weaned themselves from continual contact with us. This is not only convenient for the parent, but allows the baby to develop maximum security as they develop a sense that they are in control of their environment as they give cues to their responsive parent. This is in opposition to a baby who is left to fend for himself in a ‘away from parents body’ type of device (strollers, walkers, bouncers, etc.); these babies do not develop the same sense of security because they have no control over their environment–a device cannot respond to a baby’s cue.

Clean: Any tips for beginners?

OTSBH: Fool proof sling wearing:

1-Before putting your Over the Shoulder Baby Holder on, hold your baby in your arms in front of a mirror–note where the baby's head is in relation to your elbow, bustline, etc. Note where your baby’s bottom is.

2-Wait until your baby is sleeping and you are free to practice putting the sling off and on. Practice tightening and loosening the sling until you can do it with your eyes closed.

3-Again in front of a mirror, put on the sling, put a doll or teddy bear in the sling. Tighten & loosen as needed and position the doll exactly where you were holding your real baby–head near crook of arm, bustline, etc.  Remember, practice makes perfect, do it again! And again!

4-Now when you and your baby are in good moods, have plenty of time, etc. get in front of the mirror, put the sling on. Now put your baby in exactly the way you did the doll. Don’t be afraid to gently move your baby to where they need to be, then tighten. Voila! Happy baby, happy mom!

Clean: What else should we know about your company or babywearing in general?

OTSBH: Raising a baby in a sling naturally increases the bonding and attachment between baby and all people. Your child will grow to be attached to people, rather than things. Relationships are the only thing that make us joyful for our entire lives. When we are attached to peopel, love people, we do things for other people instead of thinking of our selves. When we have this kind of joy it is not conditional on some event making us happy – we have joy, even when undergoing the trials of life.


Feeling Like a Mama, Danielle Reiner

My last steps into mamahood came to me as a surprise. A pop and a splash, too early in the morning and too early in the pregnancy.

There was, of course, joy: joy at welcoming a new life into the world, at meeting my son. But there was also sadness, fear, and heartache. Being a mama to a preemie changed everything, my dreams and plans for becoming the mama I wanted to be. 

For the first two weeks of life, my access to my little one was restricted. I was restricted by the incubator; an unnatural barrier between us, mother and son, with only two holes for my hands to fit through. I was restricted by the noon to 8pm visiting hours. I was restricted by the doctors, the treatments, the tests, the tubes, the policies, everything. I went home without my babe in my arms and without my babe in my belly. It was, quite possibly, the hardest thing I've ever done.

In the care of his doctors, he improved. Slowly, piece-by-piece, equipment was removed, until my little one was there, breathing on his own, eating like a champ, and gaining weight like he should. Finally, he was released into our home and our care. Things should have been right, as they were meant to be, Mama and babe, together.

However, even though we were reunited, things were off. I had a hard time finding my groove as a mama. I struggled. He was only two weeks old and I felt as though I had missed so much. I wanted to catch up, to connect, to get to know my babe and have him get to know me. I wanted to hold him close and make up for lost time. 

This is where babywearing helped us find ourselves. Babywearing helped us be together. Babywearing helped us bond. Babywearing helped me connect to a babe that I, for a short time, was physically disconnected from. More than anything, babywearing helped me feel like a mama, while I learned about my little one.

I felt like a mama when I learned to identify and pick up on his most subtle signals. With the babe in the sling, I could see his tiny little mouth starting to open and shut like a little bird. Before he even fussed, I could tell he was hungry. I was his mama, I knew.

I felt like a mama when I could feel him shift through cycles of sleep. When his eyelids would flutter, or his body twitch, I knew that if I walked or rocked a bit, he would go back into a deep slumber. 

I felt like a mama when I would slip him into the sling, during a particularly challenging part of our day, and he would melt into my body and relax. While I couldn't erase the troubles of the day or take away the gas pains in his tummy, I learned that being close to me was enough to bring him comfort. 

While babywearing couldn't erase the pain of the start we had, it helped us heal. It helped me connect with my little one, and it helped him connect with me. Being close allowed us to get to know and trust one another.

That first time I put him in the sling, I had no idea what a powerful act it was. After an unexpected and rocky start, that sling helped me to become the mama that I wanted to be. The mama I dreamed about. The mama that my little one deserves.


50 thoughts on “Babywearing Celebration Day 2: Finding your Mama Groove (or Papa Groove).

  1. Colleen D. says:

    Yes, having help from other parents is key or finding a baby wearing group is good. For me it was like the help I received with nursing. Sometimes the position of the baby’s body can make the biggest difference. Another experienced parent saw it differently, especially when I was struggling to just “make it work” and she was a big help. Listening to you baby is also key.

  2. Lindsay says:

    The only sling we have is a hotsling, my 15 month old likes it now, when he wants my attention and I am doing things around the house. But when he was little he hated this sling. I didn’t have another mama to tell me there were better options out there, so i was a sling drop out until now when he wants to be in it. I always thought the really good ones were so expensive until I saw the Moby Wrap and I dont know how much the one you are offering now, but my plan is to read as much as I can here and then get one for baby number 2, or better yet, my sister is having a baby in November and I know she wants a better sling than the hotsling she has!

  3. Rachel Wolf says:

    An Over the Shoulder Baby Holder runs about $50. It is worth every penny! Supremely comfortable for a one-shoulder carrier. If your budget is a concern, check in on Saturday when we discuss homemade carriers!


  4. Katrina Klauer says:

    I have an OTSBH and I for some reason could never get the hang of it! It was a great sling I bought second hand and I think I may have purchased the wrong size for me… But they are nice.

  5. Rachel Wolf says:

    This is so worth mentioning – I also had an ill-fitting padded ring sling when Sage was a newborn and I never got the hang of it either. The size is critical. I shared mine with a tiny friend and she couldnt get it, so I hooked her up with a small and she wore it extensively.

    ~ Rachel

  6. Kathy says:

    So interesting to know how much difference size and brand makes to different people. I’m looking forward to the talk about homemade carriers, though I know it’s always difficult to figure out whether something you made is an acceptable substitute without ever having seen/used the commercial product!

  7. Morgan says:

    I feel like I could go mad just trying to research all of the options for carriers… how does a sling (this one in particular) compare in comfort for the wearer to say a moby wrap? Should I really be looking at buying several styles for different occasions, comforts, seasons, etc?

  8. Rachel Wolf says:

    The way sizing is done varies by brand. My husband and I are close the same size, making the same sling fit us both. A (tiny) good friend purchased an extra one for her husband so they each had the proper size. Usually the sizing explanation on the website is pretty straight-forward (depending on the brand).


  9. Rachel Wolf says:

    That is where you can get yourself into a pickle. Like this: I can tell you my top three and how I used them though.

    Day-to-day first 6 months: Moby Wrap

    In and out of car for errands, walking down for sleep, midnight fusses (ages birth – 3 years): Over the Shoulder Baby Holder
    Day-to-day and in and out of car from 6 months to 3 years: Ergo.

    Peppered in there we had time in homemade ring slings, mei tais, wraps, and other carriers, but these were my magic three. If I just had one and intended to babywear for the first year primarily I think I would have to choose the OTSBH. But I would not want to have to choose!

    Different carriers serve different purposes. If you will have your baby on you most of time, the investment of two or three carriers might seem silly, but compared to a stroller is affordable and compact.

    Good luck!


  10. Julie T. says:

    I did a lot of reading on the Internet and in Mothering magazine before I was pregnant with my daughter. I talked about my discoveries with my husband and we became strongly convinced we would practice attachment parenting – babywearing, cosleeping, etc. When my daughter was born I also read The Continuum Concept and it made so much sense! We practiced babywearing almost non-stop for the first six month of our daughter’s life, and continued to wear her a lot until she was about 1.5 yo. We still wear her occasionnally but she likes to roam around, and unfortunately my poor back doesn’t allow me to wear her anymore at 2.5 yo. It wasn’t easy at first – I had bought a woven wrap but in the fog of the first few weeks after my daughter was born, I couldn’t figure out how to make it work and find the energy to pursue it. I then bought a stretch fabric wrap and it was bliss! I also bought a pouch that I could never use, then bought a ring sling which was a bit better. We ended up using our 2 mei-tais the most once our baby became too heavy for the woven wrap. Never underestimate the importance of owning many different kinds of slings, wraps and mei-tais!
    I really believe that a baby needs to be held almost non-stop during the first months, to build his sense of security. Babywearing is wonderful, for the parent as much as for the baby!

  11. Christina says:

    Thank you for the posting. I’ve tried baby wearing and my son is a much bigger baby than my daughter and find he’s so heavy, i tend not to have my “hands free” as I’m using them to support him. I’ve struggled with finding the right sling, as it never feels like it fits me right, where it hits my hip/side. The tips have been helpful.

  12. lisset says:

    i am a firm believer in quality carriers. you’ll likely still spend way less on a good carrier than you would on a stroller and it will make all the difference in you babywearing experience for sure. i love my sleepywrap and my babyhawk- would absolutely love to add a ring sling to my growing collection! thanks for this genius event!!

  13. Liz says:

    Now that Shire is 10 months, she has started to really appreciate the connection and the added height she has when she’s in the sling. She often rides around on my hip in the afternoons when she’s had enough of playing on the ground–you know when she me across the room, squeaks, crawls (with a lot of emphasis, smacking her hands down), and when she finally reaches me, paws my foot. That means, “Hey mom, I want to be up by you!”

    For any longer trip, we use the baby bjorn, which she’s always liked. She’s had many happy trips in that, kicking her little legs as we walk along.

  14. Jennifer Watson says:

    Just a question on how the comments for giveaways work – Do we post a comment each day for specifically that day’s giveaways? Or one comment all week entered for all? Just checking 🙂

  15. Jennifer Watson says:

    Thanks Rachel!

    Ring Slings have always looked so bulky and uncomfortable to me… but of course I’ve never worn one (any sling for that matter). I am really liking the stories and explanations of the different types of slings/carriers. Even though I’ve read tons of babywearing stuff getting ready for this LO’s arrival, new perspectives and ideas are always great!

  16. Cassandra says:

    Yeah! My picture is on the interwebs! I had kind of given up on the babywearing because I thought my little guy was too big now (he just turned a year old) but I’ve learned a lot already this week. I am going to pop over to a local shop and try on a Moby with him this weekend. We have another trip down to Chicago planned in 2 weeks and I want to see if I can have a better experience at the museums this time! I’m ditching the Baby Bjorn!

  17. Denise says:

    This is good stuff, Rachel – thank you thank you! Just wanted to say that my all time favorite carrier has been an unpadded ring sling that I made — early on I tried the over the shoulder sling, but found that I couldn’t quite get my babe snuggled up to me tight enough. He was comfy, sure, and it was definitely comfy across my shoulder with the padding, but because the padding runs along the rails you can only pull it into the rings so far. An unpadded sling lets you snug it in as close as you want from rail to rail easily. I also loved having an open tail to use as a blanket or shield over his little sleepy head to block out distractions and lessen the noise – this was especially crucial those nights that my husband were out socializing later into the evening – which by the way I NEVER would have been able to do if we weren’t a babywearing family!!

  18. Tania says:

    A ring sling was also my first babywearing love. 🙂 And it didn’t come easily at first either. So many people see me now after 3 babies and comment on how easy I made it look. But, that all came with a lot of practice and trial and error. I love your directions on how to find the babywearing love and am enjoying reading the stories so much!!

  19. Rachel Wolf says:

    Hooray! So glad you are inspired. I enthusiastically recommend you try an Ergo at this stage. I dont know anyone who hasnt loved it. Well do an Ergo review and giveaway on Thursday! Thanks for sharing your story with us. Big hugs.


  20. says:

    Wow! I liked reading this. I went to the big baby store when my son was a month old, and he didn’t like a single sling that we found there, and none of them were comfortable for me.

    After seeing my sis in law use a simpler sling similar to the Over the Shoulder Baby Holder, and reading this article, I think I’m willing to give them a second try.

    With regards to having a mentor, I completely agree with you. My sis in law has inspired me, and I found a shop locally that has free classes on baby-wearing, cloth-diapering, breastfeeding, and more. Tonight, as a matter of fact, I’m going to an informational lecture about waterbirthing.

    I’m eager to read tomorrow’s installment on this topic! Thanks for doing this!

  21. Lisa Hanson says:

    It’s comforting to know that I’m not the only one that’s having a hard time babywearing. I so want to be able to! None of my friends are babywearers, I’m the kinda “crazy” one–home waterbirth, cloth diapers and wipes, exclusively breastfeeding for a while yet. I’m gonna have to find some mentors…

  22. Shana says:

    I never had luck with a sling — my husband used a pouch sling and I used the Moby and then the Ergo. I also never thought I’d be interested in having many babywearing options — but experience has shown me that it is so helpful to have more than one carrier… It’s good to hear the positive reviews of the Over the Shoulder Baby Holder; I’ll definitely have to try one out before we have our next babe.

  23. Sara says:

    I’ve just recently found your blog threw Sew Liberated. I am really enjoying catching up on your old posts. I Don’t have any children of my own yet, but I have two sisters that are currently pregnant. Sherry is due in August and Mary is due in October! I know this will be one exciting year. Thank you for such an informative amazing blog <3

  24. Darla says:

    My daughter hated slings and things at first too! but determined to not have these things just lying around, i persevered and got over MY sling/carrier issues and so did she (apparently “its not you, its me” was the actual scenario going on here.)
    Love these fabulous stories being shared!

  25. Tanya Veitch says:

    I can’t imagine any other way to get through the day than to wear my precious daughter. The smell of her hair so sweet and calming… and close enough to kiss whenever either of us needed it. And Daddy wearing her as we run errands or hit garage sales, etc. So sweet!

  26. sarah says:

    oh no! i left a comment on this post yesterday…but I must have forgotten to type in the word verification thingy before exiting the page, and it didn’t post. i hope i can still be entered for this one!

  27. Shannon says:

    Wow! I’ve stumbled into a wonderful place 🙂 I’ve been enjoying your products (love them!) for a while now…and I didn’t realize that you had a blog! I found myself here tonight, and I’m so glad I did. What a wonderful thing you are doing with this babywearing celebration–I’ve had more than a few people say to me lately “But didn’t they just say you shouldn’t use baby carriers anymore?” Frustrating.

    …which is a long-winded way of saying Thank You. Thank you for organizing such a wonderful antidote to all the bad press babywearing has been receiving. And thank you for all the generous giveaways you’ve been offering. And thank you for brightening my day. What a happy place you have here–I’ll be back!

  28. twigandtoadstool says:

    We are so blessed to have access to so many great baby wearing products! I know when I am out wearing my baby, I always hear an older woman sigh and say, “oh they make such great things for moms now a days”. I hope through being out and about wearing our babies, we will encourage and inspire others the same.


  29. Kirsten says:

    I am expecting my third and will definitely need my hands free to wrangle my two oldest when the baby comes 🙂 So far I have a wrap and I will need some help from experienced mothers to figure out how to use it!

  30. Jennifer says:

    When I first looked into getting a real carrier, not one off of the walmart self, I was astonished by the prices. I couldnt understand how someone could afford to have a stash of carriers, but after getting my first I figured out how wonderful and rewarding a quality carrier is. Now I have a small stash myself.

  31. Rachel Wolf says:

    Sometimes I see it as a matter of priorities. I choose $100+ carriers, but my childrens clothes are all purchased second hand and we dont have a ton of toys. (And those we do have retain their value and last forever). Thanks for your astute observation.


  32. sara b says:

    I had the same experience trying to get my newborn in the sling. Once I just calmed down a bit and had some help me get her in (having assistance was the biggest thing), things things went a lot more smoothly.

  33. Iris says:

    I love wearing my little one (7 months old), especially when we’re out taking a walk or when my daughter (4 years old) is just playing in the yard. Haven’t tried a sling-style carrier (yet…), but I would love to do so.
    When both of my children were really small, I had them in the Didymos wrap often, and for my son, I got a Beco carrier that I now really like. It’s similar to the Ergo carrier.

  34. Rachel Wolf says:

    The ring sling is very secure! We found it so quick and simple (and comfortable) that it was my go-to for late night comforting.

  35. Natalie says:

    Loved these two stories! My first sling had heavily padded rails, wasn’t very adjustable, and we both weren’t very comfortable. It took some researching and experimenting to find things that worked for us! My hope is that more mamas will be able to find carriers that work for them and for their babies…

  36. Mamatoto says:

    I desperately want to love ring slings, but couldn’t could get the hang of the two I tried. I am small with narrow shoulders and just couldn’t get the sling to stay on and feel like it wouldn’t just slide down my arm. Could it be the size was off or are some people just not built for ring slings?

  37. Rachel Wolf says:

    I suspect that your sling was too big. I have seen the same problem when I loaned my sling to a smaller mom. I suggest trying a few on in a good shop.

  38. Leslie says:

    I would love to win any of the carriers this week! My 23 month old has been looking at the pictures with me this morning. He got all excited, “Baby! Another baby!” I think he would love to be worn even now at this older age.

  39. Liz says:

    Love the tips for beginner sling wearers! I’d love to try the OTSBH. A padded sling that seems to actually work sounds wonderful!

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