Podcast Episode #45: Babywearing
What are the best baby carriers and wraps? Can you wear twins? Today we talk to babywearing expert Marissa Berghorst, owner of EcoBuns Baby + Co in Holland, Michigan. You can catch this complete podcast episode on iTunes and SoundCloud.
Alyssa: Hello again! Welcome back to Ask the Doulas. I am Alyssa Veneklase, co-owner and postpartum doulas at Gold Coast. Today we’re talking to Marissa from EcoBuns Baby + Co today.
Alyssa: I want to talk today about babywearing.
Marissa: Another one of my favorite topics!
Alyssa: Good! So we have Ashley Forton, one of our birth doulas, who does babywearing consults.
Marissa: Oh, and I love her!
Alyssa: Yeah, she’s pretty amazing.
Marissa: She’s wonderful.
Alyssa: She was here yesterday for our team meeting with her new little baby strapped to her, and it was so amazing. She’s so adorable.
Marissa: I can’t wait until she brings the baby out to see us!
Alyssa: She’s lovely. We all got a little baby fix. But she doesn’t do multiples. She’s great at single babies, but if we have multiples families, we send them to you. So can you tell us, how do you babywear twins, let alone triplets?
Marissa: Oh, for sure. So a little bit about me and why you guys like to send babies out to me is I’m certified through the Center for Babywearing Studies. I’ve done a lot of training on things, which makes me able to do the consults on multiples. And multiples are fun! They’re fun because there’s two babies or three, and I usually get to hold at least one of them during the consult. They’re very fun. So we do carrier consults, you can come in even before baby is born. We have weighted dolls so that parents can test out and see how the different carriers feel. Multiples kind of get into this whole other world, though, and a lot of times with twins what we find is one baby likes to be held and one baby is a little more independent. We do always say one carrier for one baby. A lot of times, parents will come in and they’re buying two of everything, and baby carriers usually aren’t any different. If you want to be able to do two babies at one time, we definitely suggest one baby carrier for one baby. Ring slings end up being a really popular option for multiples. Ring slings are a long piece of fabric attached with rings almost like a men’s belt loop, how they kind of weave through; kind of that same concept with a ring sling.
Alyssa: So you would just criss-cross them like an X, then?
Marissa: Yep, and so you’d have one baby just to your right and one baby just to your left, but not fully onto your hip, though. We don’t want to put new babies onto hips, but they can just be a little off-centered, and then the rings end up situated right across your chest. It’s a super comfortable way to carry two babies at one time. When babies get a little bit older, generally around a six-month mark, then we start teaching parents how to put one baby onto their back, and then they do two carriers, still, with one baby on the back and one baby on the front. There are baby carrier options out on the market that are marketed for twins, but we don’t sell them at our store because even our multiple parents will still find that one baby likes to be worn and one baby likes to be more independent, so usually they’re still only carrying one baby at a time.
Alyssa: That’s interesting. And then, too, if you’re carrying two but if your friend or someone else wants to carry the baby, now you have two carriers and you can each carry one.
Marissa: Yeah. Our average customer has between two and five baby carriers, and that’s even our single-baby customers.
Alyssa: And that’s based on what we’re doing, right? Are we hiking; are we going shopping; are we going on a quick run to the grocery store?
Marissa: Right, and even age of baby makes a difference. A lot of customers come in looking for a ring sling or a wrap for that newborn stage, that fourth trimester where babies are still getting used to being on the outside. I always compare it to car seats. You can totally get the convertible car seat that goes from birth to booster, but you start to make some compromises along the way, right? You have to add that infant adapter. You have to add the infant base. It’s the same thing with carriers, whereas if you start with a carrier designed for the newborn stage, you don’t have to add all those adaptions to it. The buckle carriers that everyone usually thinks of like the Ergos and Lillebabies and Tulas of the world, those are really designed originally to be worn on your back for babies over six months old. They weren’t originally designed to be a front pack with a newborn. But now it’s evolved to where you can absolutely do that, and we teach parents how to do that all the time. But sometimes it’s nice to get those little carriers for those early days that really hug and snuggle babies. Our postpartum depression moms also love ring slings because they can move babies just off center to where they’re not right in their field of vision. They’re just off to the peripheral just enough so that they’re not feeling so overwhelmed with caring for this new baby. It’s really great. We get a lot of postpartum depression moms into the store who come in to talk about different options with things, and one of the biggest things that we can offer them is a ring sling so that they can still care for baby but not feel so overwhelmed.
Alyssa: Now, how would a mom hold triplets? Is it possible? Is it safe? Maybe not until they’re older when you can have one on the back and two in front?
Marissa: Yeah, I would say we don’t often see very many moms doing three baby carriers.
Alyssa: By the time you get three on, what’s the point?
Marissa: Then one wants off.
Marissa: And like I said, moms are awesome because they’re resilient and they adapt to the situation at hand, and triplets, twins, even single babies can be super overwhelming, but you absolutely have in you what it takes to handle the situation that you’ve been given. I think that’s one of the biggest things with babywearing is it’s just a tool to help moms already be the awesome moms that they already are and that they already know how to be, and we just walk alongside them and support them in that. With the triplets we often see, again, that there’s usually always one in the mix that loves to be snuggled on, loves to be held, and the other ones will either kind of take turns with being held and snuggled on or they’ll just need their space, sometimes. I know a lot of times, especially if a baby has spent a lot of time in the NICU, when they come home from the NICU, depending how long their stay was, they’re used to being not held 100% of the time, so they’re a little bit more independent.
Alyssa: So tell me; you had mentioned earlier about these mesh carriers that you have that are great for summer because they don’t get so hot and you can wear them in the water?
Marissa: You can wear them in the water! So we have a brand called Beach Front Baby which is fabulous. They make a version of a ring sling that can be worn in the water. Most fabric carriers are made out of cotton, but you don’t want to take cotton into the water; it will weigh down and be super heavy. This one is made of a mesh material that’s still super supportive. You can still wear it from 8 to 30 pounds, so you can still use it for a full-term baby up until when your shoulders can no longer handle carrying the kiddo. You can wear it in the shower, which is one of our customers’ biggest things because parents are like, oh, my baby won’t let me set them down, but I smell! I need to wash my hair! But babies are slippery and you don’t want to just hold them in the shower, so you can put them into the ring sling and safely take them into the shower. It’s a safe way to shower with babies. And it’s summer in West Michigan and we have so many splash pads; we have so many water parks; we have so many lakes, and so it’s nice to be able to put baby into a carrier for that. We don’t recommend actually swimming in the water, but to be able to go in, splash around. I always love taking mine to the splash pad because then I could duck under the water, we’d both get the refreshment, and it’s amazing. The company also makes wraps, as well, that are just long pieces of fabric that you actually wrap, and just like we talked about earlier, any carrier purchase from EcoBuns comes with a free half-hour lesson on how to use it. So if wraps and ring slings sound a little intimidating, it’s our job to make sure that when you walk out of the store, you know how to use them. If you don’t like their ring sling, if you don’t like the wrap idea, we do have soft structured carriers. Those would be the ones with buckles that have a mesh front panel. The company that we carry, Onya, has a mesh front panel, but then it also has a protective layer that can zip down over top of it, so if you’re using it in the winter and you don’t want that mesh panel, it closes it up and keeps everyone nice and cozy.
Alyssa: And if you want to baby wear in summer, it’s like, oh, I’m going to be sweaty; the baby’s going to be sweaty, so the mesh helps with that.
Marissa: The mesh is really great. Now, it doesn’t cool you down per se…
Alyssa: Babies are still hot.
Marissa: Babies are still hot, yeah.
Alyssa: Right, but it’s not going to be as hot because at least they’re going to get air circulation, right?
Marissa: Right. It’s a lot of common sense with baby wearing. You know, if you yourself don’t want to be out in 80-degree weather for two hours, your baby probably doesn’t want to be, either. Make sure both of you are staying hydrated. The other cool thing with babywearing is that we can teach you how to breastfeed and bottlefeed in a carrier.
Alyssa: I was just going to say that. When you said that about keeping hydrated, you’re right there by the boob; how much more convenient can you get? And it’s actually a lot less distracting then putting on these covers and trying to whip up your shirt. They’re already wrapped in, and you just do it.
Marissa: Yeah, and with the ring slings, they have that nice long tail that a lot of women will use as a cover if they want a little more privacy.
Alyssa: That’s awesome. So how do people find your wraps?
Marissa: We have them online on our website, and if you search for baby carriers and then water wraps, they’ll be listed there. Or if you want to come out and see the colors in person, you can drive out to Holland. We’re at 12330 James Street on the corner of James and US 31, right between Carter’s and Gap Outlet. You can come into the store; we’re open seven days a week. Come in and pick out the color in person!
Alyssa: Excellent. Go check them out! Thanks for coming in again and talking to us!
Marissa: Absolutely! You’re always so much fun to hang out with.
Alyssa: Let’s try to find a few more things to talk about and have you back soon!
Alyssa: Thanks for joining us! You can find Gold Coast Doulas on Facebook, Instagram, SoundCloud, and iTunes.
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