Since I first looked into Babywearing just four years ago, the market has seen huge changes. There are new companies every month, releases of new carriers every day, and Babywearing beyond the first few months of life is becoming more mainstream. There are positives and negatives to this growth. The negatives are, in my opinion, not nearly as great as the positives.
The largest downside to this growth is that the second hand market has slowed considerably. No longer can you expect your full investment into a carrier back. This can be jarring when from the start you were told “it’s like a savings account you can use” or other such nonsense. Baby carriers were the only baby item to consistently maintain its value even after use. Now with so many companies and releases, this is an impossible expectation. As a babywearer who has been quite involved in the buy/sell/trade game, this can be a stressful change. Also, a repercussion of this is the second hand market directly affects the first hand. The small mom and pop companies producing carriers have to find balance between offering something new frequently to keep the buyer’s attention and not end up with too much merchandise on hand from slow sales.
The biggest upside to this expansion, and considerably more important, is that Babywearing is becoming more accessible each day. There are now several brands of carriers in big box stores, not just the staples of bjorn, ergo, infantino, and moby. Better yet three brands of toddler carriers are readily available in those stores from Beco/Boba, Tula (now owned by Ergo), and Lillebaby. You can’t get much more mainstream than walking into your local target and buying a toddler carrier or ring sling. As an educator, this is exactly what I’ve hoped for. Baby carriers are one of the best parenting tools around. It is fantastic to live in a time where I can watch the community grow because of the ease of obtaining carriers. Also it’s much simpler to say “oh, you can pick one up at [insert big box store here]” than it is to direct them to an obscure online store or, worse, Facebook swaps.
It will be interesting to look back on this community in another four years and see where it is then.