13 July 2012

Thoughts on baby wearing

Me with A in a stretchy wrap - +/- 3 months
Growing up, I saw many examples of baby wearing - after all, I live in Africa, where tying a baby to yourself with a towel is a way of life in the more traditional communities. I also vividly remember my parents remarking that it is bad for development of LO's depth perception to be tied to mom's back like that all day long. I didn't think much of it at the time, just figured that my parents must know what they're talking about. 


Sling cradle carry - 6 weeks old
When I fell pregnant I started reading everything I could find about parenting, but still I had no real firm thoughts for or against baby wearing, though I started to see that there were many benefits to babywearing. I even looked at some of the products on sale in local baby shops - the choices were limited to a multitude of straps and buckles to figure out or simpler looking, but more expensive slings. At my baby shower I received two slings from my aunt (she is from the US and bought it there) - one an adjustable sling, the other a pouch sling.   

Two short weeks later A was born, before I had the chance to read up more on baby wearing, slings, etc. My most important task was now to get to know my newborn and learn to respond appropriately to her. Breastfeeding went well right from the start, but I started to feel despondent with the frequency of the feedings (completely normal I learned later!) and I was frustrated by not being able to do anything - even to make myself breakfast in the mornings was a near impossible task in between breastfeeding, changing diapers and holding A. Possibly due to my struggle with infertility and possibly due to the what I had seen my mom model to us (attachment parenting, though they didn't call it that), I never felt comfortable with lying A down for more than a minute or two. I quickly realised that I needed a hands-free solution and I remembered the slings. 

Sling kangaroo carry - 2.5 months old
It took a few tries (and some tears - from an emotional mama!), but I finally got the hang of carrying A in the sling and my whole world opened up. I could wear her while she slept and do a load of laundry, walk to the shops and even make - and eat! - breakfast. I learned to hook a burp cloth (terry square) underneath the shoulder strap to cover the sling and breastfeed A wherever and whenever we were out and about without anyone being the wiser. I felt empowered and bonded to my baby in a way that made me feel more confident as a new mom. I could tell A felt snug and secure too - she would sleep contentedly for hours on end while in the sling. If she was niggly, I just popped her in the sling and went for a walk - she would settle and fall asleep in a matter of minutes. We tried using a pram once when in the shops - but honestly it was just so much easier to pop her in the sling and it was much simpler to navigate as well - excellent for a self-professed clumsy person like myself!

I received mixed comments while out and about with A in the sling - most people didn't even notice I had a baby in there until they came closer. Then they would either oooh and aaah about how cute she was and how innovative it was to carry her like that, how happy she looked, or they would ask me if she was comfortable in there and if it was comfortable for me to carry her like that. Everyone would comment on how they'd never seen anything like this before - a fact I always found peculiar, but then, I'd also never seen anyone else wear their baby in a sling. But it seemed like the most natural thing in the world to me. TheHusband also tried a few times with the sling, but never quite got the hang of it. 

Stretchy wrap - 4 months
Around 3 - 4 months she became a bit heavy for the cradle carry and I moved to the kangaroo carry. She enjoyed her new vantage point on life. I found that people would interact with her often, because she was at eye-level height - it might be totally unrelated, but she is always very quick to interact with strangers, to look and smile at them and I've had many comments about what a friendly baby she is. 

In the last few months (A is now 8 months), we migrated to a Moby-style stretchy wrap - I made one myself using a simple tutorial (it really couldn't be easier) - and again, received many comments from strangers. Wearing her like this looks a bit more 'normal' and familiar to people compared to the sling, and we receive many smiles when out and about. I find older people and black ladies comment the most, and without fail they mention how happy and snug and comfy she looks. I even had a black lady stop me in Woolies once to ask whether I wrapped her in there myself - when I answered yes, she looked very impressed with me! TheHusband loves wearing A like this, and he always feels like a superhero when wearing her in the malls, etc. They attract a lot of attention together!

Sling hip carry - 7 months old
As A is growing, I can feel she is getting a bit too heavy for the stretchy wrap and I'm thinking it's time to find a new solution again. I find myself gravitating back towards the sling - this time in a hip carry for quick trips to the shops. It's super quick to pop on and off and compact enough to carry with us. But I really like the double shoulder support when I wear her for longer periods of time - I think I must upgrade to a non-stretchy wrap or at the very least double up on the stretchy wraps to better support her weight. 

I can recommend baby wearing to any and all new moms - it's an awesome way to keep baby close, right where she belongs, it is great for baby's social development, great for developing neck muscles and - for working moms especially - a fantastic way to reconnect and still feel close to your baby during your times together after eight hours apart. Breastfeeding my baby and wearing her during our limited times together recharges both of us - I can feel my body relax as she leans into it and I get to spend time with her while tending to the daily grind (making supper, etc). Win-win.

Another unexpected perk? It's great for toning up and losing the baby weight! 

1 comment:

  1. Babywearing is so fabulous! I only came across it a bit late in my sons life, around 6 months, but it was so helpful then! And I still wear him now as an almost 2 year old :)

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