Babywearing on Vacation: The Onya Rules

I already explained why you need an Onya if you’re bringing your baby on an airplane. Today, I’m going to recap my experience at the BlissDom conference last weekend while showing you why the Onya is the best thing to happen to babywearing on vacation since, well, parents like me started wearing their babies on vacation!

I suppose that a conference might sound like a work event, especially since I went as a blogger and attended sessions where I learned about writing, blogging and life, but “conference” sounds too stuffy for BlissDom. It was, literally, a resort full of people with similar interests, most of them smiling all weekend long! I think what I learned about myself as a mom, my baby, babywearing on vacation in general and the Onya applies to any trip. I’ll be using this to go to the fair this summer, on trips to visit friends and family, at family reunions–you name it. While I used the Onya Outback carrier on the plane, I chose the 100% soft cotton Onya Cruiser (in Dove Grey/Chocolate Chip) for our time in the gorgeous Gaylord Texan resort. Here’s why you need an Onya for babywearing on vacation with your family:

  • Never get left out–I found myself soothing, entertaining, cuddling and even nursing my baby, Walter, without interrupting the activity I was enjoying, whether that was lunch with my friend Diana, listening to the amazing and inspirational Annie Downs, picking up more “swag” (freebies from vendors/sponsors), having a great conversation while standing in line to meet Susan Cain at her book signing, or walking to and from various events. I didn’t need to stop to find an elevator for a stroller or a stroller-friendly bathroom for diaper changes. I could just stand up and bounce/pat/rock a fussy or sleeping Walt (I sat in the back to make sure I wouldn’t block anyone’s view). I could follow a crowd up an escalator just to see where we were all going. Walt entertained by peeking out to interact with strangers, playing with his favorite toy (a little butterfly that is evidently very yummy) or chewing/drooling on the organic cotton, snap-on, machine washable Onya Chewies around the straps of our Onya.
Chewing on some Chewies! We have some with slate, instead of chocolate, accents to match our Outback, fyi. Love them!
Chewing on some Chewies! We have some with slate, instead of chocolate, accents to match our Outback, fyi. Love them!
  • Feed on the go–If I wanted to nurse while standing, I could do that discretely in the carrier. If I wanted a quiet moment to sit and feed my boy, I didn’t have to take off my Onya, I just had to let the front fall onto my lap and serve as both outfit protector (we’ve got a spitter!) and a nice, soft surface for cuddling (the Cruiser is 100% brushed cotton).
Nursing in the Onya! (I had to look at my InstaGram feed to even figure out which self-portrait of me and the kiddo *was* the nursing photo.)
Nursing in the Onya! (I had to look at my InstaGram feed captions to even figure out which self-portrait of me and the kiddo *was* the nursing photo.) Note: tons of head/neck support for my babe.

  • Never get lost or locked out–the Onya is the only carrier with two zipper pockets, and this resort was big enough to require a map. The map went in a roomier side zipper pocket, while my hotel room key went in the front zipper pocket.
  • Buy/collect just the right amount of stuff–I bought a book on Minimalist Parenting (I know, irony!) and collected lots of free things from sponsors, including an entire diaper bag full of goodies. Because I had my hands free, I could carry more, and I also had my hands free to rearrange everything and look through it all to decide–do I really want this? I liked that better than pilling everything in the stroller basket, because I took less and threw less away when I packed for home.
I did not win these amazing, blinged-out Bébé sunglasses at the VSP (Vision Service Plan) booth, but I got to enter the contest thanks to babywearing! Do I not totally look like Anne Hathaway in this shot? The nice lady said I did!
I did not win these amazing, blinged-out Bébé sunglasses at the VSP (Vision Service Plan) booth, but I got to enter the contest thanks to babywearing! Do I not totally look like Anne Hathaway in this shot? The nice lady said I did!
  • Nap time on the go–I have never met a baby who didn’t sleep better in a carrier. Listening to an adult’s heartbeat and being cuddled is just plain better for baby sleep, in my mama/nanny experience. The Cruiser’s sleep hood is incredibly soft and tucks away when Baby is awake, but it unfolds and easily but securely snaps onto the shoulder straps. No other carrier has a sleep hood that tucks away, invisibly, when it’s not being used, and Walt didn’t even stir when I pulled it out of the pocket.
  • Give Baby a Better View–when he was awake, my Walt just loved being able to see everything to his left and right. All I had to do to show him the massive fountain (he loves water, especially rushing water!) was turn to the side a little. If someone wanted to meet him, same thing. Even when he was sleeping, new and old friends could soflty squeeze the pudgy little baby hands and feet at my sides (after asking permission, of course).
  • Better Bonding–I felt like I got to know my little guy as a person, because I really shared all these new experiences with him. A glance let us look in each other’s eyes. I could feel his body tense or relax. I could kiss his head or hold his hand or tickle his foot without even thinking about it. I fully responded to his need for soothing with touch and motion by standing and swaying, even as I listened attentively to an amazing keynote by Susan Cain on the power of introverts. I even asked a question after he had fallen asleep!
  • Make New Friends–When your baby is on you (get it? “Onya”?), people are just plain friendlier. For the most part, they smile when they see you. They feel ok coming up and saying hello and asking to meet the little one. I could always start a chat with someone sitting next to me by pointing out that he was smiling at them. There’s a lot to talk about when there’s a baby around, especially if he’s not hidden away under blankets in a carseat on top of a stroller. I am not making this up, either: people stopped me to ask about my baby carrier, because it looked great and super comfy (and it IS), and I enjoyed those conversations, too!
Walt's incredibly adorable new friend Caprice. Yes, they are holding hands!
Walt’s incredibly adorable new friend Caprice. Yes, they are holding hands! It took all of five seconds to get him out of the Onya and onto the table.

I could go on about always knowing whether he’s hot, cold or just right, exploring my new surroundings freely, walking to put the baby to sleep while having my hands free to call home and more. But I think you get the point. Here’s the shocker:

My back didn’t hurt. 

On Friday alone, I wore a 16+ pound baby in the Onya Cruiser for over seven hours, without going back to my hotel room, and at the end of the day, only my shoulders were a little sore. Sure, I had had short breaks, like the time he played with a new friend or during a diaper change. But he was even in the carrier while I ate my lunch (he napped, and the hood protected him from crumbs–really). But I am not exaggerating, folks.

I wore a baby about Walt’s size on a long walk in an Ergo once, and I couldn’t wait to take that thing off. Sorry, Ergo, but the Onya is just more comfortable. The soreness in my shoulders wasn’t the same sharp, concentrated pain I’ve felt with other carriers. It was just the natural soreness that follows good exercise. A video showing how to put an infant in the Onya shows why its well-padded, wide, easily adjustable straps and waist band are so unique. Because it was so easy to adjust every little thing starting out the day, every tension and angle was just suited to my body, from the length of the straps to the tightness of the belt and the clip keeping the straps connected. I had given my body a healthy workout, kept my baby close enough to kiss and avoided injury!

Here’s some related stuff–

My illustrated guide to safe babywearing at the parenting site Dinker & Giggles; there’s a great discussion in the comments section on that article and pretty pictures.

A video showing how you can wear you child on your back in the Onya.

A video showing how you can use the Onya’s chair harness for a baby who can sit up independently. I’ve set up the chair harness in about thirty seconds, with very little practice, and it is tucked away in an incredibly discrete pocket and not an extra attachment. My baby has not mastered sitting yet, though, so it wouldn’t be safe to put him in it, no matter how often I have desperately wished he could be safe in a chair at a restaurant table.

One more thing: even if you have never blogged in your life, go to BlissDom. I obviously missed out on some of the official events while caring for a five-month-old. But I made several friends I’m keeping contact with, and I had amazing conversations with some people I may never see again. The official events I did attend were fantastic. This year, attendees will be able to see what we missed online by watching videos of sessions. I won my ticket during a BlissDom contest called “#HolidayBliss” so stay on the lookout for free tickets! I learned so much and came home so inspired. Thanks, Bliss Chicks!

Note: OnyaBaby sponsored my hotel costs for the BlissDom conference and provided the carriers I used, but the opinions in this review are all mine.


  1. Kristen said:

    Need some onya advice! I just got my onya cruiser a few days ago. Front carry feels great, but I just tried the back carry for about 20 min while trying to do some vacuuming and ouch!!! My shoulders are killing me. I know most of baby’s weight should be on my hips, but even after trying to adjust the straps the pull on my shoulders/neck is really bad. Have you tried the back carry and if so any tips? (PS ill be flying solo with my LO in October and already have anxiety! Your previous post about flying with the onya was really helpful!)

    July 7, 2013
    • We love the back carry! It’s easier for me… Are you using the front clip? Once, I had the straps at slightly different lengths, and all the weight was on one shoulder. Ouch! Really should have taken the time to make sure they were even. One more idea: each side has two ways of adjusting the length. Try playing with the bottom/top adjustments, because it may change where on your back the baby sits. Let me know how it goes! It really ought to be comfier to do the back carry.

      July 7, 2013
  2. Diane said:

    Hi! Thanks for this awesome blog! May i request a detailed cruiser vs. Outback comparison? I am kind of torn between the two. I could only get one. Thanks!!!

    September 24, 2014
    • Anne-Marie said:

      Hi Diane!
      I’m glad this was helpful! I went into detail about the Outback, here:

      But I can break it down for you – if you want a low-maintenance carrier you will be sharing with your partner, go with the Outback. The mesh lining and water-resistant outer are priceless. If you want something softer, something to use around the house, if you live in a cooler climate or have another carrier already, the Cruiser is just lovely. The way Onya has marketed the two is an Outback pictured on a hiking trail and a Cruiser at the market or a cafe. In my life, that translates to using the Outback whenever there’s going to be a long haul and babywearing will get sweaty before we can take a break, get it into a washing machine, etc. The Cruiser for around the house, short walks, anything where I want to take him out and put him in more often. Someone is using our Cruiser right now, in fact, because my baby boy is almost 2 and walking and I don’t wear him so much, anymore. But the Outback is still priceless for air travel. Price. Less. Hope that helps!

      September 24, 2014

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