Monday, April 30, 2012

Babywearing: What and Why

I realized the other day that even though I've talked a lot about babywearing and the gear I use, I've never dedicated a whole post to the topic. So, today... ta-da! Babywearing!

If nothing else, motherhood has challenged my sense of control. So many things have not worked out the way I anticipated... not that that's necessarily a bad thing. Babywearing has been the one major exception. When I was pregnant I dreamed of being able to carry my baby as much and for as long as possible. I imagined the bonding it would give us and the convenience it would allow. I have not been disappointed! I loath being told and refuse to tell others what they "should" do, but I do love to share our experiences!

First a little bit about babywearing. Like everything, it has its fundamentalists. Those who believe that strollers, swings, bouncy seats, and infant car seat carriers are evil. Those who believe that parents that use these tools are lazy and uncaring. I AM NOT ONE OF THESE. Babywearing has been an enjoyable experience for myself, Turtle and Daddy Turtle and has even saved our sanity at times. I believe the principles and gear are things new parents should be aware of so that they can know what their options are. I feel for the brand new mama in the mall, carrying a fussy newborn in her arms while trying to push an empty stroller. I wonder if she knows about all the options that are available to her. Today I'm going to start out telling you a little about babywearing (as I see it) and what my experience has been, and then I'll tell you a little bit about the different types of carriers and what has worked for us in the next post. Disclaimer: This is nothing more than OUR experience. Hopefully, it will be helpful to someone somewhere, but there is no judgement implied for any parent who does things differently than we do!

For a thorough overview of babywearing, you can see this Wikipedia article. In a nutshell, babywearing is as old as human kind. As a central part of the Attachment Parenting model of child rearing, it has experienced a resurgence in popularity, but it's far from a new thing. Whether doing domestic tasks or gathering nuts and berries, parents have had to juggle child rearing with performing their daily tasks. Babywearing was born out of necessity and is seen in many indigenous societies even today. It is also purported to have bonding benefits as well as calming benefits for the baby. I believe these to be true, but only on a baby to baby case. Some babies want to be held and rocked, some need their alone time. Even Turtle got touched out sometimes and just needed her space. On the other hand, though, in our modern world of baby gear for every situation, it can be easy for a baby to be placed in a infant car seat in the morning, remain in the car seat while running errands or shopping, remain in the car seat during a lunch out, then having fallen asleep in the car seat be placed directly in a swing and gone a majority of the day without being held. This is an extreme case of course but you can see the potential problem.

We actually opted to not purchase an infant car seat because I was so committed to babywearing. I wouldn't go that far if I had it to do over again (those seats are so much easier and more convenient during those early weeks when they are so floppy) but I really loved carrying her. Turtle has always been a snugly little one so babywearing was a perfect fit. In fact during the height of her colicky days, when I had reached the end of my rope, I could always take her to a mall, pop her in a carrier, and walk around for as long as I wanted. As soon as she was in the carrier, she would fall asleep! It was magical. Then after Daddy Turtle started going to school 4 nights a week, my soft structured carrier was the only way I got all our stuff carried in the house or anything done in the evening.

We do have a stroller which I love and Turtle loves to ride in it as well. We have also been using grocery carts since she was able to sit up, but babywearing has always been a part of our routine, and I don't see that changing any time soon. There are plenty of times were a stroller is more of a hassle than a help. Crowded festivals for instance. Daddy Turtle and I love the freedom of being able to strap her to one of our backs, the other carries the diaper bag and we are off stroller free. We also use it a lot when running quick errands where getting a stroller in and out of the trunk would be a hassle.

You know I'm a gear junky so I'm sure you're asking the question, "What do you have in your stash?"  I'll tell you about that tomorrow. Have a great week everyone!

1 comment:

The Maiden Metallurgist said...

Oh how I love babywearing. More than anything else, it has really shaped motherhood for me. We don't use a stroller, never have and I definitely regret buying the infant seat (I didn't know!), especially after shelling out for the convertable seat last weekend.

I have a little of everything in my stash, though I use woven wraps the most. My husband is a devoted Ergo user. I love ring slings and use them a lot on weekends when we are out and about running errands when we're going to be doing a lot of ins and outs. And I recently founf the hybrid love with a half-buckle mei tai.

I would love to be able to give a wrap or ring sling to every mom I see struggling with a fussy baby, but alas! You can't force people to be interested int hing just because you love them! Too bad though!