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Sunday, 27 July 2014

The Secret World of Baby Wearers

I had never heard of it myself. Not before the dragon entered my world. Didn’t realise it was a ‘thing’ or that it had the potential to define what particular style of parenting  you ascribed to (a whole other post on that subject one day I think!). All I knew from before dragon landed earthside  was that I would have to deal with a growing child and a medical condition that meant the physical toll would require some careful management. Something a lot more primal than careful transportation and reduction of mechanical strain had me convinced it was something I wanted to investigate further though I didn’t realise I would be entering a whole other world.

There was also something very easy, natural even, about keeping my baby close to me. Hells I even observed a ‘confinement’ period (ask me about that some time!).  I had spoken to at least one mother who  mentioned a Bjorn and Ergo. We decided on a ring sling (breeze baby) that I could use in the water (I spent my entire pregnancy attending the pool 3 x a week so of course baby would too!) and a Stokke carrier, organic cotton, highly structured and informative video on its efficacy. The RS got put to use not long after we returned home as round the clock breastfeeding sitting down too long, too much indian food and a need to get mobile again got me back in the kitchen again. I don’t even know if the position was optimal or safe at the time, but she was up high, I could feel her breath and she was content to be close. I even earned the, albeit brief, admiration of my mother for just ‘getting on with it’. Trips out of the home involved the Stokke, all manner of clipping, buckles and well secure (complicated?) but it elicited positive comments from the radiographer scanning dragon’s hips at six weeks – my first wearing ‘validation’ moment.  A few short weeks of carrying dragon in the blasted capsule to “parent’s group” I spotted a mum in a stretchy wrap and bubs looked so snug and content. A chance purchase from a buy/sell/trade local page from another mama who couldn’t quite conquer all that fabric resulted in a Moby coming to live with me and well the love affair began and the “stash” started to grow.

There is an entire community of baby wearers out there. It has a wide range of members of varying walks of life but there is a very strong sense of “community” within it which was great for a new parent navigating this strange new world where there was more expected of me than being a corporate clown. On the positive side of meeting this group of fabulous people is a lot of parenting support, exposure to all sorts of parenting styles and philosophies, on the negative side you can also develop a really rather manic addiction because you know some of these wraps start at around $100 but also into the range of the highly desirable in around the $1500 mark.

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Benefits of Baby Wearing

  • Helping babies with reflux remain upright;
  • Nursing discretely in public;
  • Helping unwell babies remain close without tying both wearer and baby to bed;
  • Rocking a fussy baby with natural movement much like that experienced in the womb;
  • Enables skin-to-skin between wearer and baby – particularly helpful in regulating high temperatures;

This list is by no means definitive and any physical benefits are best shared by an expert but I can say that babywearing …

Saved my life. Dramatic it seems maybe but the bond that I have with my daughter has greatly benefited from babywearing. With a chronic pain condition, no family support and some difficult challenges that have come our way I have had a “village” of other women support me through those times. These women came to me through the babywearing world and have been there when I attempted to avoid the difficult stuff or needed to pour my heart out when I thought it could not break any more than it already had. It has not been a parenting philosophy, a dogma or any other indoctrination – we come from different walks of life, religions, cultures, backgrounds etc but have enjoyed a shared love of the world of amazing wraps, fabric blends, machine woven, handwoven, from around the globe, exclusive releases, well worn and loved “beater” wraps and everything else in between. To them I am eternally grateful.

Optimal Wearing

I’m going to only briefly mention to those that may be curious and wondering why the dearth of carrier options when the likes of Baby Bjorn (known as a front pack carrier ‘FPC’), can “do the trick”?  The  latter and its copies has had the benefit of significant marketing and product placement but has only recently improved its design.

Baby wearing is about the comfort of both baby and wearer. “Optimal carriers” is the term used to define any carrier used to carry an infant-toddler, and they are not created equal. With recent attention on introducing safety standards it is absolutely worth being educated on what carriers are suitable for baby safety and wearer comfort. This illustration sums it up many respects and as someone that does wear with a chronic pain condition I can’t emphasis enough on the difference a well designed carrier or well executed wrapping job will make to your wearing comfort. I frequently wear for several hours at a time, today alone we completed shopping in six stores while I wore my now 18 month old dragon in a hemp/cotton blend wrap. In a back carry we managed to avoid tantrums, visited toy shops without losing too much of my mind and she even clocked a quick nap.

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Do you babywear? Have you thought about babywearing? I didn’t even mention that our household also has a ‘babywearing Daddy’ in it who has his own carriers of choice!

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