I don’t consider myself to be a ‘hippy’ parent (whatever that really means), but I have found myself taking to some decidedly ‘crunchy’ parenting habits, including my penchant for cloth nappies, breastfeeding, baby led weaning and of course baby wearing. It’s currently International Baby Wearing Week, so it seemed appropriate to write a little about our baby wearing experience, and one of our favourite carriers.
We started ‘baby wearing’ with G, first with a second hand high street carrier which was fine for a while but did get rather uncomfortable pretty quickly. We had a BabaSling for a while but never really got to grips with it, and then a pouch sling which we were sent by a relative in America which was actually really good until she got a bit heavy for it.
When G decided she didn’t want to use a pram any more we resorted to quite literally carrying her when she was fed up of walking, and as I’d not discovered woven wraps or toddler carriers, I ended up using a HippyChick hip seat – a genius invention until said toddler decides to use her own legs for a change, and leaves you walking around wearing what looks like a slightly bizarre bum bag.
This time round I was keen to find something more practical and, dare I say, a bit more stylish. Not knowing exactly what we wanted I headed for a local sling library. We’re lucky around here to have an abundance of sling libraries where you can try out different types of carriers for a small fee. It’s well worth doing if you’re interested in trying a carrier out, as they aren’t particularly cheap (though they can be brought ‘preloved’ and they do hold their value very well for resale).
And so since C was born I’ve used pretty much most types of carrier – a stretchy Moby wrap, Connecta, half buckle, woven wraps, an ABC (Action Baby Carrier), ring slings and mei tais.
I like using a carrier largely for simplicity – we live so close to the school that by the time I’ve got the pram out and C appropriately dressed and strapped in for the school run we could be there already, plus the rigmarole of reversing the procedure ten minutes later! And I have to admit to really enjoying carrying C – the interaction you get when carrying is far stronger than we would get in the pram, and she’s more content and alert, able to see more around her and interact with more people on the way.
Despite trying so many slings there was one type I really fancied but which I couldn’t find anywhere.
An Onbu, or Onbuhimo, is a traditional Japanese carrier. It’s similar to a mei tai in that it has a fabric body and fabric straps to tie into place , but instead of a waist strap it has a ring on each side which the straps pass through. It means a little less tying than a mei tai, also you can put it on whilst holding baby, you don’t need to put them down first. You can even tie it ‘on the go’ if, like me, you’re constantly late for the school run!
With none around for me to try, I happened to stumble upon some tutorials online for making mei tais, and it occurred to me that an onbu should be just as easy.
I didn’t take step by step pictures and to be honest kind of made it up as I went along so I’m not going to post a full tutorial – I used a few different existing tutorials as a guide including this one and this one, although I used an existing carrier as a template and went a bit overboard on making sure it was strong enough to carry the weight!
I’ve used it now for probably about 6 months, both front and back carrying – for the school run, woodland walks, trips round the shops and even just to get the washing done at home. And I love it! I don’t really know why they’re not seen very much over here but they definitely should be.
The biggest plus for me is the speed of using it for a back carry. I pop it on the bed/grass/seat of the car with the straps already threaded through the rings, lie C on top, tuck her legs through and use a ‘superman toss’ to lift her onto my back. From there you just slip your arms through the straps like a rucksack, pull tight and tie the straps together in front. Voila!
One day I might brave making a video to show you what I mean, and quite how easy it is.
Whilst I’ve grown to love my woven wrap, I’ve not perfected back carries with it so the Onbu is still a fail safe favourite for me and I’m hoping it will last us some time!