Mamas, I’m really excited to be sharing this post with you, because babywearing has changed (and saved) our lives as new parents. I would be the most terrible person in the history of ever if I didn’t tell you why it’s so great (or at least why I think so). It is a bear of a post, but buckle in and I promise it will be worth your while.
If you’re like, “Wearing… my baby?” I don’t mean that your little prince or princess doubles as a purse (although, hey, some baby carriers can totally help you do that). Babywearing just means you, the parent, are wearing a carrier of some sort and your little tot is in it, hence, kinda being worn. I know, such a weird way to think of and say it, but it sounds nicer than baby rolling, baby dragging, baby trudging, etc, don’t ya think?
There are a million and one ways to babywear. There are woven wraps, stretchy wraps, ring slings, soft structured carriers, mei tais, etc.
There are also a million and one brands of each of these carriers and wraps that come in even more prints and styles, and usually depending on which you choose, there are multiple ways to wear baby in the same carrier as well, so your options are pretty endless. You can find more about the types of carrier and which may work best for you and your baby’s needs here.
Now that we’re through that crash course intro, let’s get to why babywearing is a good idea in the first place. Here are a few ways babywearing has made our lives better, as well as a few tips to help you make sure you’re doing it right should you decide to give it a try.
Shocking to believe, but we moms do need our hands for things other than carrying our babes! Appalling, I know, but whether it’s a cup of coffee, a bottle, the diaper bag, your other kid, a pet, a mop or a kitchen utensil, sometimes it’s just impossible to have both hands on baby. Also, if it’s one of those last two items, it’s not usually conducive to actually cleaning anything or cooking a delicious meal to be carrying a baby around who is drooling on whatever you just managed to tidy or in the kitchen near sharp objects and hot surfaces. Cue babywearing. While baby is small and you have to front carry, wearing might not be super helpful for chores, but is a lifesaver to get small tasks done when you need to keep baby close. I hear legendary tales of the things moms get done around the house once they can back carry. Floors are vacuumed, feasts are prepared; the possibilities are endless.
This was especially a big point for my husband. He works as a media director, and being able to wear our son hands-free while he works mixing sound or managing new equipment in his Mission Critical has helped them be able to spend time together and bond during his especially busy seasons at his job. Yes, baby daddies can totally wear, too.
Keep creeps at bay
The world is crazy out there, y’all, and I don’t mean to feed into it, but there are just way too many stories circulating about babies being snatched out of shopping carts or rolled away in strollers. If you want my baby, you’re LITERALLY going to have to take me first. There are also well-intentioned strangers of the non-kidnapping variety that are just waiting to breathe and smear their stranger germs on our irresistible little ones, and I can’t blame them, but if my kid gets sick, you better believe I will. I find they’re a lot less likely to try stealing a snuggle if it requires them touching you first.
Less gear to lug
We LOVE our stroller. It’s lightweight but sturdy, and folds up so easily, all of our non-dad and single guy friends have even learned how to store it in our trunk on their own. It’s still a stroller. And sometimes when you need to run an errand at Target or do groceries with nugget in tow, the thought alone of having to push both a cart and a stroller or take up nearly your entire cart with a car seat is enough to deter any intentions of being productive. Wear that baby, girl! If you’re walking and quick, you might not even need that diaper bag, either. No pockets for your phone or keys? Some carriers have those, too! Anything that makes parenting this grab-and-go gets two thumbs up in my book.
Instant fuss relief and Sleepy Dust
Especially in the early days of existence, your new little one just wants to be close to you and held. You are all baby has ever known, and it can be overwhelming when he or she is so new to you. You just want to SLEEP or EAT. Being human when you’ve just had a human is hard, but being wrapped up makes it easier for both of you. The hospital tells you to swaddle your baby to sleep, and wrapping them in woven or stretchy wraps has the same effect of creating that womb-like atmosphere and warmth that will soothe most any baby. And when baby is calm, baby sleeps. And when baby sleeps, hallelujah, where is my cheeseburger!? Don’t think too much about dropping food on your little’s head. Baby wipes serve such a wide array of purposes.
Aside from all the fabulous conveniences babywearing has afforded me, motherhood has basically zapped all desire or instinct to express my personal style. How fabulous can my J. Crew blouse really be, when the pattern is baby vomit? Not very, friends, not very. With all the fun styles and patterns that wraps and carriers come in, they’ve essentially replaced my previous desire for chic handbags. And don’t even get me started on all the things you can do with drool pads and bibs to customize buckle carriers even more. What’s not to love?
Nothing gives us moms life like holding our miniature miracles close, amiright? Wearing takes all the muscle out of snuggles, so your arms and hands are free to hold theirs, smooth stray hairs or pinch chubby cheeks. And when they manage to fall asleep while worn, those same yummy cheeks pressed against your chest… Heaven itself! As they say, the days are long but the years are short. Why not hold baby close while you can?
If I haven’t sold you on babywearing by now, my last ditch effort is to say if you want to go to Disneyland or World, everyone tells me babywearing is the only way to do it, since strollers aren’t allowed in long attraction lines. If the facilitation of visiting The Happiest Place on Earth alone is not reason enough, nothing is. The rest of this post is not for you. Enjoy your chunky-baby-induced carpal tunnel. If you’re still reading and stoked to WEAR THAT BABY, there are a few guidelines to ensure you’re doing it safely.
Whenever you wear, your baby’s knees should be higher than her butt and the carrier should support her little legs from knee to knee. This takes pressure off of baby’s hips to avoid a multitude of issues as they develop. There are many carriers on the market right now that do not provide the support necessary for baby to have this type of seat (heck, I own one), even extremely popular ones (looking at you, Baby Bjorn). While wearing in and of itself is great for you and your baby, extensive wearing in these types of carriers is not recommended, so shop and choose your carrier or wrap with caution. Also be sure to look into weight requirements as some styles will be outgrown quickly, only be used once baby is heavier, or require a separate insert.
C-shaped, curved spine
Another step of positioning that is best for your developing sweetie is that their back be relaxed, not rigid.
Close enough to kiss
In order for baby to have the best support and parents to have the most comfort while carrying, baby’s head should be close enough for you to kiss the top of in any front or hip carries. You should just have to tuck your chin down. If you’re bending at the neck or waist to try and smooch your little, she’s probably too low.
Only front inward carry until baby sits up unassisted
I know, I talked about the wonders of multitasking with back carrying, but until babe has excellent head control and a better idea of what to do with his legs, he needs to be in from where you can see him and he can rest his head on your chest when he gets tired of holding it up. You’re not alone in your daydreams of sweeping the filthy floors under that couch while your kid chills and doesn’t scream for being left alone. Noah is almost there. Your little will be, too, before you know it.
Join a local group
Starting out with babywearing can be intimidating, especially when you’re wigging out about dropping the baby. I came into my comfort zone thanks to my amazing church bestie (looking at you if you’re reading this Stef) who added me to a local Facebook group which holds meet-ups, a couple of which I’ve been able to attend. These are safe spaces where experienced moms can teach you the ins and outs of different carriers and the options each brings, and you can often try several types before committing to buy, which is lovely. If you can find something in your area, sign up! If you’re a South Florida mom and considering babywearing, please please please contact me. I would love to answer any questions and invite you to join the group or a meeting.
Congratulations, you’ve survived this lengthy post! And now you know so much and are ready to go out there and shop and wear that friggin' baby, girlfriend! Do it. Tell me about. Take pictures. Tag me in them on Instagram (@dumpydiapersblog). I love it! I love you! I love your baby!