Wearing Your Baby: Expectations vs Reality

I had a very clear image of the new mother I would be – and she would be wearing her baby, damn it.

Something about galavanting around town with my child expertly wrapped around my torso just said, “Hey everyone! I’ve got this mothering thing down!” In reality, this woman I had pictured in my head with the baby wrap, the Venti Starbucks in one hand, and the giant glasses on her face, was clearly some celebrity from the pages of People magazine or something. I remember being inundated with images of new moms looking amazing and doing their mom-things. They were always wearing their babies.

baby-wearingOkay, she’s not a celebrity – but look at her. I’m pretty sure this is her internal dialogue: I’m totally hands free! I’m in Paris! I look amazing! Is there a baby on me? I can hardly tell. I’m clearly the perfect mother. My internal dialogue was more like, Does this baby make me look fat?  I was too freaked out to use the cute wraps, so I settled on the Ergo. I loved it and it was super comfortable, but the padded shoulder straps made me look like a linebacker. Oh well.

From an outsider’s perspective, new moms always looked so comfortable wearing their babies. My mom friends who did never mentioned anything about being concerned that they were suffocating their new, little human or that they were convinced they would drop him. How could they not mention that? It was all I thought about.

I wanted to be walking around, giggling, running errands and occasionally cooing at the cute little bundle of joy happily asleep on my chest. Instead, I was totally convinced the straps weren’t going to hold and supporting his weight with my hands the entire time. I was also totally convinced that he couldn’t breathe in there – so whatever time that wasn’t spent making sure I was supporting his weight with my hands, was spent peering at his face, trying to hear his breath, or giving him extra space to be sure I wasn’t crushing him.

As a new mother, my baby-wearing expectation was this: it would be convenient, easy, and second-nature. The reality? I was paranoid, uncomfortable, and I’m pretty sure I looked ridiculous. If you’re a new parent, and the reality of wearing your baby is totally ruining the fantasy of what it would be like – don’t worry. Like everything else about new parenthood - it gets better.

You can reach this post's author, Maria Guido, on twitter.
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    • Megan

      Yes, the first couple weeks are scary and it’s not a cute look, but once you realize they won’t suffocate the Ergo lets you be FREEEEEEE. One of my favorite pics from when the boys were infants is my husband and I in front of the castle at Disney World with the babies asleep in the carriers. I’m sad they only fit on my back now :(

    • Tricia Werner

      Gosh I loved my moby warp! I did envy the sling wrap mommys a bit since they had such cute designs but I was never comfortable in one. But my plain white moby wrap meant I could nurse have a coffee (yea yea I know caffeine I drank it we both survived) and shop all at the same time. When my oldest was born I did worry about the fabric covering her face at first but with the other two I was pretty comfortable from the start. But all and all do ehat works for you!

      • Maria Guido

        I’m so jealous that you could wrap that thing! I probably should have given myself more time – I started sweating and crying and I just gave up.

      • Valerie

        Same here. The Moby made me feel dumb.

      • Natasha B

        I tried wraps, couldn’t hack it. Ergo FTW

      • Rachel Sea

        I wonder about leaky diapers and wraps. With a carrier it’s one piece that you can take off in a hurry, but the wraps take some winding. Did you ever have to deal with a wrap and a blowout?

      • Alene

        Not that you asked me, but we had that happen once. Not so fun. How she was sitting caused the diaper to shift, so it all came out the side. I had her in a Front Wrap Cross Carry, so I could just untie the knot, loosen the wrap a bit and lift her out. Once we figured out what happened, everything went in the wash (another perk of wraps compared to some SSCs, it’s just like washing clothes) and we wrapped her up again in a different wrap. It’s like learning to tie your shoes. As a more experienced wrapper now, I can get baby up on the front in about 15 seconds, down in about five. Back carries take me up to 45 seconds, depending on the carry and baby’s cooperation.

    • http://wtfihaveakid.blogspot.ca/ jendra_berri

      I hated babywearing. I tried it a couple times, it hurt my aching back, and my short torso and his long body made us look like Signourney Weaver wearing the robot suit in Aliens. I thought we’d be all cozy, but instead it just made me feel pregnant again, but with obstructed vision as his head came up to my nose. Probably could have tried more than a couple carriers to find the right one, but ultimately I just wasn’t into it and neither was my baby who liked his space.

      • JAN

        Definitely a big difference between carriers are comfortable for each mom-baby combo. My oldest like to be snug next to me in a Moby wrap, my second hated it but loved the Ergo, neither liked the Baby Bjorn. My youngest tolerated the inward facing Ergo but loves the new Ergo 369 where he can see the world, but I hate it’s Velcro waste because I can’t take it off w/o Velcro sound waking a sleeping baby. But yeah, different carriers, different comfort for the wearer (I’m 5’6″ with a long torso, my SIL IS 5′ and short everything, we don’t like the same carriers) and some more active babies don’t like them as well (but you need the carrier more sometimes to manage the active ones in crowded areas).

      • Jessifer

        I had made the mistake of waiting too long to buy the baby carrier, so by the time we went to the stores and tried to test them out, my belly was too big for me to actually try them with the dummy baby in it. I had to rely on my husband’s choice, which I ended up not really liking. But by then we had already spent money on it and I didn’t feel like getting a different one.

    • Abby

      I wish my kid tolerated the Ergo better. We’re practicing, but every practice session starts with a lot of screaming (mostly his) and ends with me popping an Aleve for my backache.

    • Alene

      I am obsessed with wrapping. I started with the Moby, but quickly moved on to wovens when it became clear that baby and I were unable to get through the day without wearing. Being incredibly short-torsoed, I didn’t like any SSCs, but oh, the wraps. I have so many, and am trying to justify more in my head for #2 who is coming soon. It is BAD, but we love it.

      • Nire

        I’m a wrap addict who started out with the Moby too. I keep getting new ones and my husband is confused, but I just explain I need a fabric for ever season, not to mention various lengths and colors.

        My only problem is that my little guy is getting a tad big for a front cross carry and he has revolted against every other carry but one hip carry that he can’t sleep in.

    • Zettai

      I think that baby in the picture looks like it’s being put through joint torture! I’m hoping I will babywear without problems because carrying a carrier or pushing a giant stroller sounds like hell.

    • kara

      I thought I’d never ever baby wear. I have horrible back problems that really flared up when I was pregnant. I was like I’m 100% stroller and then I ended up being obsessed with baby wearing (actually more like my DD was devotee of being constantly held). Anyway, I loved my ergo and baby k’tan.

      • Lilly

        my husband was the same — he has a bad back but found the carrier more comfortable then using the stroller. I think you are more likely to stand up straight using a carrier then a stroller (even with handles at the right height you have to lean into the stroller a bit).

    • KaeTay

      I used neither.. my daughter hated being tightly wrapped/pressed.Even as an infant. I got one for free from a friend, tried it out.. she said hell no.. I never used it again.

      • Rachel Sea

        My niece was the same. From birth, she did not want to cuddle, she wanted to be held upright and facing out.

    • Natasha B

      I had an older ergo for my older kiddos, never liked it. Got a brand new one with the waist strap and infant insert, the bebe is in there every day, especially during ‘circus hour’ at our house-the dinner, bath, bed rush. Having free hands is priceless.

    • ChelseaBFH

      I felt like baby wearing was one thing I really missed out on by having twins… I got them both in the Moby a couple of times when they were tiny, but never felt comfortable doing much more than sitting on the couch with them in there (my husband and his broader chest managed better). Sometimes we will wear them if both of us are going out, but if it’s just me the stroller is a necessity.

      HOWEVER, now that I’m having another one who will be just 16 months younger than my twins, I’m determined to make baby wearing work. Sort of like popping the baby back in the womb for a few extra months. I want (and have a feeling I’ll need) to be one of those moms who goes shirtless under the Moby and barely notices when the baby latches on.

      • Drstephaniedvm

        Same here for the most part :-) I did use a sling on solo grocery trips (still do if it is a big trip) the sling baby (yep always the same one in the sling) still likes it and they’ll be 3 in October

    • Linzon

      I didn’t wear my first kid but wore my second kid right from the start so that I could keep up with his brother. At 15 months when he decides he’s done, he’s done now, and I get a clawing, screaming, biting monster strapped to me. This is especially fun in places like the library.

      • Boozy Inactivist

        Oh I hear you. DH seems to think the best way to deal with a thrashing 16 month old is to strap her to mommy. Yay.

    • http://martaonamission.com Marta Salario Marcase

      I was the same way, I tried 3 others before I landed the one I liked. My baby is 18 months and I still pack him around in the Ergo. Adjusting is the key to taking the pressure off the back and neck. Check out the Ergo Lottery story here.

      http://martaonamission.blogspot.com/2013/10/mommy-corner-all-wrapped-up.html

    • Larkin

      My mom is totally convinced that I will suffocate the baby if I put him in a wrap. But, then, she’s also convinced that everything that’s not something that existed (and that she used) when she had babies is probably going to kill him.

    • CrushLily

      I found back problems were alleviated somewhat by decent shoes with good support. Having the carrier properly fitted with my baby in it by someone who knew what they were doing (as opposed to the baby daddy) was helpful too.

    • s.i.

      There was a mom at my daughter’s school who wore her baby in a wrap and she looked so carefree, and her baby looked happy and comfortable even though his feet were up around his ears. So I went home and tried it with my baby. I felt like she was all tangled and not secure and I was sure I was going to drop her any moment. And she was looking at me like, “WTF, do you not see my feet up around my ears??”