As a first time mother, having a baby in the house simply lovely. Sure, the nights could be long, but the baby was cute, and he was my whole world. I went back to work when my first child, Chesley, was 3 months old, but even then, the evenings and weekends were his. Fast forward a few years, and baby brother Drew came along. Big brother still needed attention, but the baby needs a nap. Big brother is having a fit, the baby is crying, and the house is a mess. What’s a busy mom to do?
Babywearing to the rescue!! What is babywearing? Simply speaking, babywearing is the practice of ‘wearing’ your baby in a sling or soft carrier on your body. Doing so keeps baby close, and frees up your hands for other tasks. I got my start fairly early. I did some babywearing with Chesley, but I never found a carrier that I loved and found to be really comfortable. I had a Moby WrapTM , but I didn’t use it as much as I could have. But I kept it around because I knew that I wanted to try it with Drew. Once we got the hang of it, I was in love! Drew was happy and calm when I wore him. I could walk around the neighborhood with both boys. I loved being involved with Chesley and keeping my baby close and letting both children have what they needed from me. I perfected my wrapping skills and wore my baby everywhere: to the park, to church, to the mall, even in the house. Everywhere. As Drew got bigger and heavier, the Moby Wrap started feeling saggier, and with summer on the horizon, it was HOT. So I bought a woven wrap, then ring slings, and wore them everywhere. So, too, began my love affair with fabric!
Slings and carriers can be made from tons of different types of materials, from jersey knit (like a Moby Wrap), to hemp, cotton, and other woven fabrics. Each has its perks and drawbacks; some are better suited for all-day wear vs. intermittent wear; some for summer and some better suited to winter. Over the next few months, I would like to explore different babywearing topics, and share methods and styles that are important to babywearing, including:
- Benefits of Babywearing (including closeness, bonding, breastfeeding, and family connections)
- Babywearing on a Tight Budget – How to wear your baby with very little money to spend, even as little as $20 and $30 budgets.
- Carrier Styles and Options – Explanation of a mei tai, soft structured carrier, woven wrap, ring sling, pouch sling, and others.
- Babywearing in the Heat & other Safety Concerns
- Detailed Carrier Reviews – My take on specific carriers and suggestions for different needs.
- SETX Babywearing Group and what we do
Benefits of Babywearing
Of course there are different ideas on babywearing and I’ve heard lots of different comments, both positive and negative, about babywearing. I won’t even acknowledge all of the negative ones that we all know people say. I believe that each parent/caregiver has to make their own choices on how they will raise their child. I will not say that my way is better, rather I will present an option that has worked for us and hope that you might find something that could work for your family, too.
On a day-to-day basis, babywearing means that I keep my baby close to me so that I am there for him whenever he cries. If he is happy lying on the floor, or playing, or sleeping, I leave him alone. If he wants to be held, then I usually do hold him, nurse him, or wear him in a carrier. I truly believe that babywearing saved my sanity when Drew was an infant. It calmed him down like nothing else, especially in public! He was almost always calm when worn, and could sleep for hours in the sling. Babywearing can have a positive impact on milk supply (if you’re breastfeeding), too. If he slept for an hour or two in the carrier, my milk would be flowing. Wearing a baby close offers similar benefits to those of skin-to-skin care.
Babywearing has benefits for older kids, too. Wearing the baby allows mom to have her hands free to participate in activities with older children. I can push Chesley on a swing or make his lunch and talk with him. I can attend church and school functions and pay attention to Chesley while wearing Drew. As baby gets older, there are still advantages to wearing him. Wearing a toddler can keep your busy tot quiet and calm. Toddlers are kind of like caged monkeys anyway, and the carrier or sling helps keep him contained. There is no way I could put Drew, who is a very active 16 months old, down to walk or expect him to sit quietly in a chair or stroller during a school program. The sling helps him be a part of our activities.
Dads and other caregivers can wear babies too. I love seeing dads wearing their babies. For many dads, wearing the baby can be a source of pride in parenting and can benefit the relationship with the child, especially if mom is nursing. Babywearing allows dad some of the same one-on-one, close contact with baby that moms enjoy. If your baby is used to being worn, then it makes it easier for grandma or a babysitter to replicate a known environment, making outings away from baby easier on everyone.
You may think that babywearing is a bit of an obsession for me, and you’re probably right. I love the fabrics, the patterns, the colors, the fun of getting new things. But I am also passionate about helping parents and caregivers babywear safely and comfortably. Learning to properly use a carrier is key to safe and happy babywearing, and a great place to do that is through our local babywearing group, SETX Babywearing on Facebook. We have a lively discussion list, with all kinds of information for parents new to babywearing, including videos and DIY resources. Babywearing works for us, and I will spread the babywearing love as much as I can in the hopes that you will give it a try for your family.
Check back for my next post, coming soon, about ‘babywearing on a budget’ and more about SETX Babywearing.