If you wasted your college degree on an English major like most people I know, you will quickly pick up on the overarching theme of my baby-gear recommendations: Sleep. How, where, when, how long, why not, and dear God please give me some serious but not life-threatening illness like Ebola so that I am forced to spend a few days alone in the hospital where I can rest. Most of the gear you will need in the early weeks of your child’s life is meant to either help you score extra sleep, or prevent you from getting pooped on. Babies don’t actually need much to survive the first month—food, shelter, hugs—but you require these gadgets so that the postpartum hormones and sleep deprivation don’t drive you so bat-shit crazy that you try to gouge your eyeballs out with a nasal bulb.
A baby carrier won’t actually help you sleep, at least not directly, but if you’re lucky the right one will cause your baby to fall asleep, thereby allowing you some free time to make a sandwich or fold laundry or let the dog inside because it’s suddenly occurred to you that he’s been in the back yard for three days and has started hunting squirrels and growing his own vegetables. For your baby, the carrier is the next best thing to returning to the womb—she hears your heartbeat, feels your warmth, and is gently bounced to sleep by the rhythm of your footsteps as you search the house for the corkscrew.
There are roughly 40 billion types of baby carriers on the market, and each one comes embedded with a parenting philosophy and a personal statement about your value as a citizen of the world. The Moby Wrap, for example, says, “I know how to find tutorials on YouTube and I have decent-sized hips.” The Ergobaby conveys the message, “A lot of my friends went to law school, but some sold out early and got an MBA.” I own both of these carriers, but the one my son lived in pretty much non-stop from weeks 4-12 was the Baby Bjorn, which is more of a, “My colicky demon-beast is finally asleep after three hours of crying so take your hysteria about hip dysplasia and shove it up your baby-wearing ass.”
Yes, like everything from produce to pets, baby carriers are a hot-button issue among people without any real survival-related life problems. But all that really matters when it comes to choosing a carrier is, 1) will your baby sleep in it; and, 2) can you get it on and get your baby into it by yourself, preferably with one hand so you don’t have to put your mug of Irish coffee down to adjust the straps. The Bjorn checked both of these boxes for me in the early days, whereas the Ergo became much more useful a few months down the road, and the Moby makes a pretty nice dog bed.
Try a few carriers out and find the one that works for you, regardless of what it says about your political leanings or property taxes. Borrow a friend’s baby, or better yet, use a feral cat to recreate the appropriate weight and degree of cooperation you can expect from your soon-to-be bundle of joy and fulfillment. If you can get the cat to fall asleep before it pisses all over you, you’ve found your carrier, and make sure to add bonus points if you managed not to spill your drink.
Written by: Kathleen