by Alyssa Delle Palme
Babywearing is nothing new, but there’s a subculture today that involves carriers being sold for thousands of dollars above retail price. That’s because moms are clamouring for them as status items. Not only are women collecting carriers them like designer bags, they’re buying exclusive brands by participating in secretive online lotteries called dips. A dip is like a raffle, but it actually involves gambling. For instance, a mom will present a sought-after wrap or carrier as a prize, offering 150 dips at $10. Once all the dips have been purchased (you can buy more than one to increase the odds of winning), a winner is randomly picked. That means the seller gets $1500, but the winner only pays $10. However, dip groups rely on Paypal accounts to keep payments simple for both buyers and sellers, and gambling is against the rules of Paypal. Hence, the first rule of a dip club is you don’t talk about dip club.
You don’t talk about dip club.
Although the practice of babywearing has been around for thousands of years, it went out of fashion as strollers were introduced in the late 1960s. When I was a baby in the 1980s, babywearing wasn’t the norm—but my parents were ahead of their time. They recognized babywearing as an important parenting tool and used to carry me around in a blue steel-frame backpack carrier. Today, baby slings are no longer considered “for hippies only.”
When I was pregnant with my son Henry, I read about the benefits of babywearing and how it can help babies grow up smarter and happier. I purchased a secondhand carrier from a local consignment shop and was later horrified to learn from the “babywearing police” that I was carrying my son around in a “crotch dangler.” I had my first bout of mommy guilt over putting my baby in a narrow-based carrier that allowed him to, well, dangle. I was told this could increase his risk of hip dysplasia. When I knew better, I did better. After some research, I purchased a hip-healthy Ergo baby carrier because it’s ergonomic for baby and it’s also built for parents’ comfort. It was the best $150 I ever spent. My soft-structured carrier (SSC) has seen a lot of mileage over the years and has allowed me to meet the needs of both my babies while giving me two free hands.
Until recently, I thought I had the best baby carrier on the block; little did I know there are more elite baby carriers on the market. Mother-of-two Lindsay Pravato says the most expensive market-value carrier is a custom, handwoven wrap made by Mad Hatter Warped & Woven.
“It was sold at auction for just over $13,000!”
Pravato’s current collection includes twelve different types of carriers and wraps. She says they are all her favourites, depending on the situation. Pravato recommends that first-time moms find a local babywearing group to try out a couple carriers before they buy one.
“Babies are only little for a short while; you won’t spoil your baby by wearing them. Don’t be upset by others’ opinions, you know what’s best for your baby.”
Mother-of-three Nicola Donaldson says the world of babywearers is a vast, fascinating and multifaceted community and can be about so much more than just simply wearing your baby.
“When I became pregnant with my third child, one of the things I was most looking forward to was babywearing again and I was so excited to try all the different types of carriers that I hadn’t tried with my first two children. When I started babywearing, it was just a functional thing, but now it has evolved into something fun and entertaining.”
Donaldson says babywearing ticks all the boxes:
“Safe, warm, loved and fed—that’s all they need.”
Her current carrier stash includes four different types of carriers and wraps.
“I buy and try a lot of different things but I always come back to Tula. For me, they are the most comfortable and supportive.”
Tula baby carriers and wraps come in beautiful designs and they are sold in high-end baby boutiques. Rumour has it there is a Tula with a market value of $4,000. The exclusive Tula world even has a call-and-response greeting. If you are carrying your baby in a Tula and you spot another Tula wearer out in public, you call out, “Tula in the wild!”
And your Tula comrade is expected to respond, “Caw! Caw!”
Mother-of-three Ali Burgess says she has experienced the Tula in the Wild call.
“I just giggled and said hi. I’m not cawing in public! But, it was funny and nice to bond with other babywearing moms.”
All jokes aside, Burgess says babywearing is one of her favourite things about having a baby.
“It’s truly changed my style of parenting. It’s helped me connect to my kids in a way I would never expect.”
Like Burgess, more and more parents are realizing the value of babywearing as a means of building a stronger bond with their babies. Undeniably, though, there is snobbery in the babywearing world. One mother was so desperate to fit in she opened a GoFundMe account to raise money to purchase a high-end baby carrier. Pravato says the focus should be on the benefits of babywearing and not the brand.
“You don’t need an expensive carrier to wear your baby comfortably, you can buy very comfortable carriers for $30 at any box store.”
At the end of the day, a worn baby is a happy baby.