Leslie is a Babywearing instructor & expecting her second baby anytime now. She is obviously so excited about getting to use her Beco again!
A few days ago, I sat at a Sit’n'Stitch playgroup at our local mom gathering place, a store called Birth, Baby and Beyond. I was holding my Beco carrier in my lap, sewing up tiny little wear spots on the black straps in bright yellow thread (for safety reasons). This soft, floppy carrier, worn from daily use had cradled my baby through his early days, and has been the best investment in my parenting arsenal. I put the needle aside carefully to look at my son, now almost 30 lbs. of active and independent boy.
It was in that very room of the store owned by a local doula and birth advocate (now my friend) that I first learned about “babywearing” and the course of my life took a drastic and wonderful change. The doula who owned this baby boutique advertised free baby classes in The PennySaver, and I clipped out the one that said “slings and carriers” and showed up one night with my nearly 20 lb. 5 month old. The night of the meeting, a few other moms and their babies gathered in the classroom space to listen to Tammy present all the carriers. Then we got to try them out with her help, and she assisted me with a mei tai.
Bailey was so happy in the carrier, and I was SO comfortable. It was amazing! I had my hands and arms free AND Bailey was close and safe! At the time, Tammy didn’t have any buckle carriers other than front packs to demonstrate. I already had an Infantino front pack and a Lamaze Close Comfort sling (which I’d later find out was rather dangerous). So, I hit google and looked up mei tais. Mei Tais led me to SSC’s (Soft Structured Carriers) like the Ergo, Pikkolo, Patapum, and the Beco. Since I still had money from working through my pregnancy, I decided to buy myself a GOOD sling.
But, what would I choose? I looked at all the options I could, scrawling brand names and defining features on scraps of paper, feverishly clicking through pictures of happy parents wearing their happy babies. When I finally took the plunge and bought my first “real” carrier, it was a 4th Generation Beco Baby Carrier, on sale for $120 with black straps and Amy Butler’s Sky Temple print. It still surprises me that I didn’t buy a mei tai or a Moby wrap. I didn’t take any “baby steps” before going straight to the Beco SSC, but I never regretted my choice once. I got it in the mail, broke it open, popped Bailey in and never looked back.
Over two years of constant daily use, even with other SSC’s and other carrier types tried out for novelty, and the Beco was always our favorite. Now, looking at the faded black of the straps and the slightly pilly surface of the print, I think about retiring our trusty 4th gen. Not only did it serve us well through sickness, spit ups, shopping emergencies, potty accidents, hikes, and special occasions, it also helped many other moms as I took over Tammy’s slings and carriers class. I was so happy with babywearing that I wanted to share my love and enthusiasm. My stash grew exponentially, but no matter what, I always went back to our Beco.
I found a forum called TheBabyWearer.com, attended an International Babywearing Conference in Chicago, watched the Tummy2Tummy DVD over and over, and volunteered countless hours advocating for moms and babies and helping them to learn safe and comfortable babywearing. I have learned so much, and gained so much through babywearing. A good sling can change your life, and I know that my big, risky decision to buy an expensive baby carrier (having never even touched an SSC in my life) eventually led me on a path of self-discovery and ultimately gave me a way to give back.
The most rewarding part of our babywearing journey has been the giving aspect. I often help moms who don’t have the financial means to purchase an expensive carrier, and we work together to find something that will get them hands-free and happy. I gather donated slings as loaners or donations for underprivledeged families. No matter who they are though, when someone comes to me to learn about slings, I can give them the knowledge that I’ve acquired over the years, and that costs nothing . . . but it’s priceless.
So, as I sat there, stroking my hands over our trusty Beco, looking for more worn out spots to reinforce, I thought about our second baby, due in 5 weeks. There’s another baby waiting to be held snugly in the embrace of this carrier, close to my heart. I guess I’m not going to retire it any time soon!