Saturday, June 23, 2007

Mud Slinging

I made a simple, naive mistake today: assuming that buying a baby product online would be a quick and painless operation. Instead, with a click of the mouse a giant crevasse opened in front of me and I fell into a whole new world. The world of Baby-Wearing.

While planning our upcoming trip to Malaysia (in about 5 weeks), I decided that I wanted the convenience of some kind of baby carrier, like a backpack or frontpack type. As a preppy person, my first thought is Baby Bjorn, the upscale baby carrier that is theoretically quite comfortable and because of the European name, ridiculously expensive, which is why it is both preppy and desirable. What can I say, I like Europe! I couldn't justify buying one with my earlier kids, so with Brad I bought a cheap knock-off that I never really liked, convinced that a Baby Bjorn would have solved all of my complaints.

Well, a Baby Bjorn is a possibility now, but they are bulky and look really hot, and since we are going to a place that experiences daily temperatures that are similar to that found on Mercury, plus the humidity of, say, Maryland, I wanted something slightly cooler. When Darcey was about a week old I took a trip to Costco (where they graciously did NOT mark her hand with a Sharpie) and saw this man wearing a piece of fabric criss-crossed over his chest. Weird. Until I looked closer and saw a tiny little baby head peeking out of the top of the fabric. It was a baby carrier! And the coolest one I ever did see!

I couldn't get up the guts to go over to the stranger and ask him where he had gotten the carrier. To be honest, if it had been a woman, I don't think I would have hesitated for more than a minute. But he was wearing it, and his wife was there with him, and I couldn't decide if I would ask the current user of the item or the obvious purchaser of the item. So I let the opportunity pass by, but now that I'm ready to buy, I wish I had.

Which leads me to my internet search today. I thought the most appropriate term for what that guy was wearing would be "Giant Piece of Fabric With a Baby Inside" but I figured that, while perfectly descriptive, it probably wasn't a very catchy name for a retail product. So I searched for "fabric sling" and got replacement seats for lawn chairs. Nope, but "fabric sling baby" got me what I was looking for. More than what I was looking for, as a matter of fact.

I didn't realize that how a person carried their infant was such a big deal, but big deal it is. It is a Movement, actually, called Baby Wearing. As if your baby is an accessory, available in a variety of styles, one for any occasion. No, no, that's not what they mean by it. It is a theory that instead of carting your baby around in, say, an impersonal stroller or whatnot, the baby should be carried, and to make it easier, don't you know, there's plenty of products you can buy to aid you in your baby-carrying quest. And that's when my head exploded.

There are, and I am not exaggerating here, over 800 different products made by a host of manufacturers, all designed to hold babies. They boil down to 14 different categories of carrier, depending on whether you want a padded or unpadded ring sling, a short, stretchy, or woven wrap (the wrap was what the Costco dad was wearing), a pouch (adjustable or otherwise) or maybe you'd go with an Asian-inspired carrier, like the Mei Tai (isn't that a drink?) or a Hmong (I'm pretty sure that's an indigenous people somewhere). The ones that throw me are the Onbuhimos or the Podaegis, which I can't even pronounce. And as a bonus, there are patterns, so us homemakers can make our own Hmongs if we want.

Where was I, all of these years, that I didn't know that this kind of baby-carrying micro-management existed? How could an entire movement go unnoticed, especially in child happy Utah, where giving birth is considered a hobby for some? I must have been living under a non-baby-carrying rock.

I'm tempted by the Mei Tai, especially the one made out of a special fabric that has UVA/UVB protection, which is basically a big square pocket that you drop your baby into, with straps to wear on your shoulder. But then again, the wrap looks so versatile, with options to wear your baby facing forward or backward, on your back or your front or your hip. They make them out of gauze and other lightweight fabrics which shouldn't be too hot in Malaysia. I go to a website that is highly recommended for wraps, and start browsing fabrics. Some of them are beautiful.

Wait a second, though, what's that price tag say? $75??? For a Giant Piece of Fabric With a Baby Inside? That I can't even guarantee that I'll be able to tie without my baby falling out? I think I might go buy a Giant Piece of Fabric and see if I can figure something out before I drop $75 on this. Otherwise, maybe that Baby Bjorn isn't looking so bad after all.

1 comment:

Drake Steel said...

Hi Emily,

Great entry,

I have two comments and an opinion for you:

Comment #1: Hmong were the Laotian tribesmen that we had working for us in Viet Nam.

Comment #2: Your comment on not approaching the guy with the baby wearer is the reason that I've gotten to enjoy reading Twilight. At some point in the novel, Bella describes to her father that she is going shopping for a dress for her friend. But you aren't going to the dance, was the father's question (as it would mine) she explained it to him. Then she opined that she wouldn't have had to explain this to her mother.

Opinion: It seems like we as a society are struggling to find a thing that will bring, health, happiness, knowledge, energy etc. We are so crushingly wealthy (in my opinion because we have managed to avoid WWIII and are enjoying relative peace as a world) as a world that we, everywhere, are trying to create a thing which will bring all the spiritual things we long for. The thing that is going to bring what we want for the children is the gospel of Jesus Christ no thing or collections of things. My parents generation not only smoked around babies, didn't breastfeed, and had children while put under with ether, apparently it was wonderful because you woke up and there was the baby! It was dopey because it got the ether also but that was okay. Also when you were teething my mother and your great grandmother were comparing notes at how to "help you deal with the teething," AKA stop you from crying. You might want to wrap the baby bjorn around your head... Mom said give the child paregoric, a powerful narcotic which was only available via prescription before I guess it was taken off the market. Great Grandma who lived with us was less delicate she said rub whiskey on your gums. Maybe because while the stuff was there, we'd just make everybody's pain go away.