"We have this (name of carrier), and it's really not working for us, I'm wondering what else we should try?."
" Is there a particular wrap or carrier you'd recommend for a new mom and new bean? Just to get us started?"
I have people ask me for advice all the time about what kind of carrier they should get for their brand new or expected baby. After helping many families, I can confidently say I've found the best carrier option out there. With endless possibilities in the US market alone, how could I possibly narrow it down to one kind of carrier?! It's true, there is one category of carrier that I believe is always the best buy.
New parents can spend incredible amounts of money on brand new carriers, and if you really fall in love with something, great, go for it, your baby is only little once, and it's nice to have something you really love. Most parents don't find out until after they already own a carrier (or three) that there is a vast and thriving secondhand market for baby carriers and that you could very likely find that same carrier you're in love with for a much lower price. When your babe gets older and you have a sense of what you really like, there may be carriers you can't find used, but when you're just getting started, there are countless great used options.
A carrier that retails for $120 might regularly be found, in excellent used condition, for $40-60. Most large brands have a specific buy sell trade (B/S/T) groups on Facebook, and the smaller brands have B/S/T threads in their Facebook groups. Many local babywearing groups have their own B/S/T album or thread, where you can get an excellent carrier for a low price right in your own community; many caregivers price lower for locals than they would on a big swap because they enjoy seeing something they've loved stay in their own community.
There are a couple colossal Facebook groups, The Babywearing Swap, and Babywearing on a Budget (where everything is $100 or less!) that have new carriers added every single day, in excellent used condition for excellent prices, and have associated feedback groups for accountability of both buyers and sellers. Transactions generally take place over PayPal, and by buying using the Goods and Services function, you are protected by PayPal in the case of a deal gone wrong.
Used carriers not only cost less, but in many cases are more comfortable, or even easier to use. Like a nice pair of leather shoes, there's a breaking in period for new carriers, and having someone do that for you before you try to learn to carry a newborn in it is a blessing! Especially in the case of ring slings and woven wraps, I would almost never want to start with a brand new one, especially with a newborn.
The market for used carriers goes up and down, but in general is not unlike buying a new car vs. a used car. Except for some costly brands with cult followings (again, much like cars) carriers depreciate in monetary value relatively quickly once they leave the retailer, but unlike cars can hold their full functional value for many years afterward.
I would encourage you to try out a babywearing meeting in your area if at all possible, before buying a carrier. There are babywearing groups around the world with libraries of carriers to be tried out and borrowed, usually for a small yearly or monthly membership fee. It is often said that carriers are like jeans; different brands fit different people. What I love you might hate, and vice versa. It's really worth trying a few before committing to buy.
You can even come to a meeting before your baby has arrived, as most groups have weighted dolls you can wear in the carriers to get a sense of them. If you've already purchased a carrier and find yourself feeling like it's not working for you, the trained educators at the meetings may be able to help you get a more comfortable fit and feel more confident using the carrier you already have with your new little one.
Brand specific traveler programs are a fun way to try something new: generally you sign up through a particular brand's group to be on a list to host a carrier temporarily (usually a week or two.) You pay only the cost of shipping it on to the next person and a promise to share about your experience on social media. There are other groups that you pay a flat fee to be able to borrow a wrap or carrier from the brand for the short period of time.
All this is to say, I would strongly caution you against going out and buying a brand new carrier before your babe arrives because your best friend/sister/social media idol loves it. There are so many factors that inform fit and comfort with a carrier, it's really better to look for a babywearing meeting to try carriers out at, and if that's not an option, buy used, not new. You can usually resell without worrying about losing a ton of money if you're buying used in the first place.
It can be nerve-wracking and beautiful all at once to wear your newborn, it shouldn't be expensive and uncomfortable too. Do you have more questions about getting started babywearing? I'd love to hear them and see if I can help.
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