I thought this would be a great guest post to start things off with, seeing as I have just entered back into the world of frequent babywearing myself! I love wearing my new little sweetheart in my Hotsling, and especially love the convenience and free hands that it offers me. The author of this post, Nola, has been a longtime blog reader, is a fellow Canadian, and as I have gotten to know her through our emails, I consider her a sweet friend and encourager in my own journey of natural living. Hope you all enjoy this and all of the other upcoming guest posts while I relax and enjoy my "babymoon"! :) Love Stephanie
Guest Post by Nola
Image by hoyasmeg
I have always believed babies need a lot of close contact with their mothers. When I had my first child (now 3) I didn’t know much about babies other than that they needed to be close. With this in mind, I found a second hand infant carrier. However, it was poorly designed and very difficult to use, and it also hurt my back.
A few weeks into mothering I found out about other types of baby carriers and slings. We purchased one that worked well for us and that made life much easier. Soon after, I was surprised to learn that carrying my baby even had a name: babywearing. Its nothing new really- mothers the world over carry their babies with fabric in many different ways. It’s making a comeback now in North America.
What is babywearing?
Basically, babywearing means wearing, or carrying your baby hands-free on your body, with a baby carrier of some sort that is made out of cloth and may also possess rings or buckles. People use all sorts of things to babywear- ring slings, pouch slings, wraps, soft structured carriers, etc! It’s all a matter of how you want the carrier to look, feel, and really, its also a matter of what works for you and your baby. Many mothers find that they prefer to have more than one carrier for different needs and situations, or as the baby grows. Older babies and toddlers can also be worn (although their needs are different) depending on the carrier that you have. I have found, for example, that the ergo is perfect for older babies and toddlers, but the Moby wrap is more suited for a small baby.
What babywearing is not:
• Something that should hurt your back, or be uncomfortable! If it hurts, there is something wrong. Usually it means you need to adjust something and learn how to make it work for you. Sometimes it might mean using a different carrier. I have personally never found ring slings or sling pouches very comfortable for long periods of time, and had trouble making the Ergo and Moby wrap work for me at first, but now they don’t hurt me at all. Different moms like different carriers. My friend loves her ring slings!
• Something that is only for small babies or young babies. I wore my then 2 1/2 year old on my back in our Ergo last year without issues at around 30 pounds. Certain carriers are better for this than others.
• Something that will slow down the physical development of babies. I have proof of this one! I was often told that since my daughter was held so much, that she would be delayed. However, she walked and learned all her motor skills very early.
• It’s very good for the baby. There have been lots of studies done on it, but to me it makes sense- the baby is close to its mother (or often father, in our house, or even the odd time Grandma) and therefore gets the closeness that babies need.
• It makes life much easier at times. The baby is usually happy to be so close, and many things can be carried out faster with the baby attached, hands free, than it could be if the baby was fussy sitting or laying on its own, or if you tried to do things with only one hand (the other balancing the baby). Often times, especially with my first child, she wanted to be held a lot, so babywearing allowed me to keep going and meet her needs at the same time
• It can be used for walks and hikes when the baby either doesn’t like the stroller, or when a stroller is inconvenient/awkward or unusable (think big crowds where it’s unsafe to allow a child to walk or awkward to navigate a stroller, small trunk spaces or hikes). You can babywear anywhere really. And you get great looks and comments too!
• Depending on the carrier and your baby, you can breastfeed in some carriers. Personally I have found that my babies nurse so quickly that it’s not worth it, but many babies and moms find this very useful, especially in public as it can be very discreet. Definitely something to try after the baby is able to latch properly.
How to babywear:
Here are some resources that I have found the most helpful:
• www.thebabywearer.com has LOTS of information especially if you are confused about which type of carrier to try or how to use one that you own. It goes into a lot more detail than I have here.
• Other moms. Ask around if you see another mom using a sling or carrier. Ask a friend to demonstrate hers.
• Stores that sell baby carriers. They usually allow you to try them on, and some even have weighted dolls to show you what carrying a baby would be like, or you can bring along your child and try them out. Some stores that sell baby carriers may be maternity or cloth diapering stores, or they might have an idea of where carriers are sold in your area.
• Online stores. Although you can’t try them on, there is often a lot of information and you can sometimes call and speak to a real person to help you make your decision.
Be aware that some baby carriers are simply not well designed. I would recommend purchasing one used or new from stores that specialize in this sort of thing- in my experience the “big box” type stores do not have quality baby carriers, and it’s really worth the investment to be comfortable for both you and your baby! Some carriers are better for certain ages than others, and some are better for different situations. Some moms simply prefer some types over others! Don’t be intimidated by trying wraps or trying something different. Like me you may be surprised! I thought the Moby wrap looked too complicated, but I was given one and it was very simple to use. Stores often offer personal help or even DVDs or online directions and videos. Personally, I love my Moby wrap for the newborn to age around 4-5 months period, and the Ergo from about 4-5 months into toddlerhood. Try what works for you, and know that if it doesn’t feel right, often you may need a little help learning to adjust the carrier to work for you.
If you don’t already babywear, are you now more intrigued about how it can make mothering easier? For those of you that already have a carrier, what types do you like? Do you find it makes mothering easier? Any fun stories to share of wearing your baby?
Nola is the mother of two girls, ages 3 and 6 months. She enjoys “wearing” her baby around her home, while hanging out clothes, going on walks, grocery shopping, and hiking with her family!