Saturday, January 31, 2009

Babywearing and maternity coat: the easy way

affiliate links in post

I stumbled across an ad for The M Coat while I was doing important research online (erm...playing Text Twirl, I think). It purports to be three-purpose: maternity with a long A panel zipped in over your bulging tummy, babywearing with the panel zipped in the other way around to allow for a little head to stick out near yours, and regular fashionable coat by leaving the panel off entirely.

For some reason, this coat gave me the giggles. Maybe it's the two-headed monster look that results when you put two bodies in one coat, like you have some sort of parasite.

But I started investigating, and sure enough, there are at least a half dozen such coats out there (updated January 2011).

There's a similar Mama Coat by Japanese Weekend (no longer available — here are other maternity coats at Japanese Weekend).

There's a Peekaru fleece vest that's a nice, streamlined option you could wear under a regular coat.

There's Suse's Babywearing Kinder-coat (and vest and poncho and...) -- this one was unique in allowing front and back the same time!

There's a lovely wool Mama Jacket that flows so organically that it makes you look less like you have a parasite and more like...I don't know, genetically conjoined?

And then there's always the P Sling New York option (no longer available) if you want to look like you're wearing a sleeping bag, which I'm told is all the rage in New York City.

Baby Ette has some beautiful babywearing ponchos that look fabulous whether or not you have a baby beneath.

Destination Maternity and Target have a variety of maternity coats and jackets — but be warned that if it says "wool blend," it's unlikely to keep you very warm, so look for 100% wool if you live in a cool-to-cold climate.1

Or, you could do what I did. You could wear your regular coat, only leave it open when you're pregnant and can no longer fasten it over your protruding belly. Wear a thick sweater underneath for long walks.

Once you have your baby, sort of pull it closed around his legs if he's in front of you. If not, well -- hope you bundled him up. Babylegs come in handy for those bare ankles.

Because, hey, I support any product that makes babywearing more accessible for the modern mama sans amauti, but sometimes you can just make do, you know?

Note: My tips might work only for those in Seattle or warmer regions. That said, it has been quite nippy during the winters I couldn't close my jacket, and I survived without frostbite or pneumonia. But today was a glorious 44 -- can you say walk on the beach? I can, and did.

What do you think? Did anyone spring for a specialty baby-and-mama coat, and did you love it? And how cold does it have to be to make it worth it?

Read more about different baby carriers and babywearing, complete with pictorial how-tos, in my Natural Parent's Guide to Babywearing!

1 One reason I keep wearing my 100% wool coat during pregnancy and babywearing is that I'm warmer in that than I would be in a cheaper maternity coat, even with my front uncovered!


Wilderness Mama said...

Wow, for the "fabulous introductory price" of $384, I think I'll pass. There is no way I could justify that! I mean, I could get a pretty nice coat similar to this for $50 and use my homemade mei tai (which I LOVE) and bundle baby up......SO MUCH cheaper! It's a cool idea though!

Jenny said...

Yikes. I don't like the M Coat. It sacrifices style for (dubious) convenience, kind of like a Baby Bjorn. (Sorry if you use one, but ever since Austin Powers 2 all I can think of is Dr. Evil and Mini-Me.) It doesn't look like this coat would work with a sling at all, which is what I prefer for a newborn. And for over $300? Maybe I'd be a little more open-minded about the 3-coats-in-one if they didn't actually charge for all three coats :-) Of course, I live in South Carolina, and it doesn't get below the teens here. But still--I'd say just buy a big marshmallow coat a couple of sizes too big on sale for $50 or less, and hold onto it to use during pregnancy. I mean, for those of us who are "hip and happening" but rocking a nearly-broke lifestyle.

Anonymous said...

Actually the M Coat works great with a sling, you just zip only one side up all the way and leave the other down a few inches. And it is well worth the price. It's a beautiful down coat made in Canada by Canadian Spirit downwear and Johnny Yiu ( The price is easily justified. It has a lifetime warantee and will last you through multiple pregnancies and babyhoods in addition to serving as a lovely warm down coat that no one would ever know was a "mom" coat.

Lauren Wayne said...

It's interesting to hear everyone's thoughts. I'm with the $50 crowd, being too cheap (poor) to spend a lot on a coat, and I prefer something a little more streamlined in wool, which works well for rainy and chilly Seattle winters. But if the M Coat works for you and you can afford it, I think it's great that it exists. Like I said, anything that helps babywearers. I did feel a little bad making fun of such a sweet company that aligns with my parenting but just not my frugal philosophies. I just hope mothers know it's not necessary to have a bunch of special equipment for babywearing, even in the winter. Anonymous, are you from Canada? Maybe it's cold enough there to make a special coat worth it, like the Inuit have with Aumatik.

It's good to know it works with slings. The pictures make it look geared for Baby Bjorns.

Anonymous said...

I absolutely agree that you don't need any special equipment to be a good parents but what is cool about the m coat is that it makes babywearing look good. For the first several years I wore my kids, people seemed so shocked that I also wore a bra and didn't walk around munching granola and spraypainting old ladies in fur coats. Babywearing has come a long way in the last few years and that's in part due to it becoming fashionable and trendy. If that's what it takes to get parents to ditch the exersaucer and baby einstein videos for some actual physical contact with baby, weather that's at home or outside, I'm all for it.

Arwyn said...

Just down 1-5 in Portland, Oregon, we did get a lot of use out of our pre-owned Kindercoat, purchased used for I think less than $100 if I recall correctly. We used the outer shell and inner fleece together all of twice, I think, both times on New Year's Eve at the zoo when it was below freezing. But we live on a hill that gets awfully breezy at times and my thin little knit coat really wasn't cutting it for the two of us. Having a coat specially built for a back carry that either The Man or I could use made things much easier and nicer on all of us.

If we never did back carries, it likely wouldn't have been worth it; just buy a bigger coat! But we did, and it was, and fortunately we found one we could (sort of) afford.

Aida said...

thanks for dropping by the blog

i never seen/tried any of the coats you listed. i have an amauti, its worth it for me, cold 9 months of the year here and i love the ease of it. used amauti cost less than $200.

Lauren Wayne said...

arwyn: I like the back carry feature of the Kindercoat. That's what's easiest for us, so I just rely on his body heat & bundling on the cold days, but our guy's a little older this winter, and last winter we were still doing mostly front carries.

aida: I definitely think it makes sense in the colder parts of Canada! Must be why the M Coat is made there. I am intrigued by the amauti -- very cool. I loved your pictures. How exactly do you get the baby in?

Aida said...

sorry, didnt see this till now but this is how i get my DS in, he is 12 months old here. easier with my 2.5 years old since she takes instructions way better.

Lauren said...

You can use the Peekaru with back carries too. And you can find it on sale or free shipping in places too. I can send links.

Anonymous said...

The Peekaru looks funny with a back carry. The Suse's Kinder deluxe even allows for hip carries. It is perfect for ring sling users. It is worth every penny and the resale value is high. Keep in mind babies develop a sense of direction at about four month and don't always want to be carried backwards. Having a coat that allows for back carries makes it an investment for several years. The kindercoats are unique because they don't leave your chest exposed and keep you warm. There are used kindercoats out there for a good deal, worth checking into and with a baby wrap blanket around baby we've always been really warm, even in minus 15 Fahrenheit. Bonus, they are three in one jacket and my husband and I can wear pieces with our children without having to buy another coat.

Lauren Wayne said...

I like the husband-wife coat-sharing bonus! That's a great idea.

Kristine said...

Here in CT I def. need something to put over baby and me as I wear him- my big ski coat is not very comfy and zipper scratches his face. That's why these baby coats are useful. I don't dare order one w/o trying it on though. I live near NYC so hope to take baby in one day in Jan (when it's not too cold!) and find a boutique that sells them. I'm also going to hit Upper Brest Side to try on their Boob brand tops. I'm sick of being an unstylish nursing mom. (Old Navy tops wash poorly and are too short on me anyway!) While I don't plan on spending 300 for a coat, I'd gladly spend 100 and just cut corners elsewhere!
Thanks for this post, Hobo Mama, for highlighting many great options!

Anonymous said...

I also use a deluxe kindercoat and love it - we're going on 2 1/2 years of use and it's been a good investment. Had I known about it when I was pregnant, I would have gotten it earlier! We use the fleece by itself, the rain coat by itself and the two together in 30F and below.

My only issue: my daughter is 2.5 years, 32 pounds and we're starting to having problems fitting her snow boots inside the coat. The front of the coat has a bottom zipper which makes it easier, but it also lets more heat out! We've been taking them off and carrying them...not ideal but it works.

Thanks for the listing several options, good luck all with your babywearing!

Lauren Wayne said...

I'm glad to hear what's working for people, and what's not.

mpr: I didn't think about fitting toddler snow boots inside; I can see that being an issue in a climate cold enough to need one of those coats!

fcmom: The older I get (not implying anything about you! :), the more I'm willing to spend money on quality and functional clothing (my wool coat, for instance). That said, I just won in a giveaway my very first dedicated nursing top. After 2.5 years — go figure! Maybe it will convert me.

Anonymous said...

I know this post is really old, but this is a tough budget dilemma for a lot of people.

I am converting an old coat into a babywearing coat, just copying other people. I tried wearing the baby over my own coat, but for some reason the Ergo kills my shoulders that way. It's like none of the weight is on my hips, and it's all on my shoulders.

When I was pregnant, instead of buying a maternity coat, I bought a heavy wool cape/poncho type thing from Eddie Bauer - on sale for around $50. It's cuter than it sounds. It's not a maternity coat, so I can still wear it, but it fit over the bump very well. I actually get compliments on it often. I live where it hovers around 15-25 degrees all winter long.

Lauren Wayne said...

Anonymous: A wool poncho/cape is a great idea! I tried on something like that recently, and it was really cute! I'm pregnant again and still leaving my bump to the breeze… :)

Unknown said...

I do find the M Coat worth it myself in Canada. The coat has kept myself and my wee one nice and toasty all winter. Now I'm on the lookout for something for spring. @Hobo Mama

Ironmchugh said...

How about this as an option for converting any coat with a zip into a maternity jacket while pregnant?

It wasn't easy to figure out all the zips but hopefully we've made some pregnant ladies lives a bit easier.

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