There are many studies that show the benefits of baby wearing some of which are less crying (both mom and baby), it promotes attachment, and it allows a busy mom to get things done hands free while still attending to the needs of your infant. I highly recommend popping over to thebabywearer.com and reading some of them. I won’t bore you with studies and stats but rather my personal experiences over the past 9 years.
I received my first baby carrier, an Over the Shoulder Baby Holder, from a dear family friend at my first baby shower. The gift giver not only was a family friend but a highly respected pediatric Chiropractor, Dr. Judy Forrester. I was intrigued to say the least. Babywearing wasn’t new to me. I had carried my brother in a Snugglie when he was an infant and knew my Mom carried me in one as well. The ring sling was a new concept for me though. Mama Judy, as we lovingly called her, went over how to use it and assured me it would be a wonderful way to bond with my new baby. She was right.
Initially I struggled with how to use it, but I persisted and went over the instructions countless times. I finally figured it out just in time for my wedding. I didn’t actually wear my daughter G during the wedding but it was wonderful having the slings as we drove through the mountains frequently getting out to hike down to a lake or stream. It allowed me to go places a stroller couldn’t go, I was able to nurse without my husbands family even realizing it and I was able to keep strangers well meaning but dirty hands off my baby. It was indespensible. I even used the sling when she was a year old and we travelled to Quebec to visit family.
(6 week old in OTBH)
Babywearing became an absolute need with my second child as I battled her colic and my postpartum depression. The only way to sooth Am was to hold her in arms and walk, nothing else worked, and the last thing I could handle while fighting depression was a constantly crying infant. While carrying her I was able to attend to the needs of my 15 month old and get work done while soothing her. She cried less and I felt like I was doing at least one thing right. I used the Snugglie more often then the ring sling because she preferred the upright position. It was absolutely the most important piece of baby gear I owned.
Baby #3 was a tank. no really, a tank. By 5 months she was 20+ pounds (exclusively breastfed) and my poor arms couldn’t hold her for long. I headed over to The Baby Wearer to do some research and I found Jan of Sleeping Baby Productions. On her site she had instructions for how to make various baby carriers. I lived there, reading and then constructing my own ring sling. It turned out great and allowed my poor aching arms a break. I didn’t wear Ari long as she was just too much baby for me but babywearing carried us through until she could walk at 9 months.
With baby #4 babywearing became even more important. I sewed a fleece sling and used it all the time. I even took it with me when I travelled to British Columbia to visit my terminally ill father. In fact I left my stroller at home! A ring sling wasn’t enough as he got older and I decided I needed to find a way to get my son on my back. I set to work constructing a MeiTai (an Asian carrier) did exactly that. The freedom it allowed me was wonderful. I had his sweet little boy breath by my ears as he slept and I cleaned and cared for the other three. We went out walking with him peeking over my shoulder at all the things that he could see at my level. Things he would have missed had he been tucked into a stroller. I even wore him in the first few months of my 5Th pregnancy without any discomfort.
(Me 3 month pregnant wearing almost 2 year old in Didymos Wrap)
When Miss V came along I wore her from day one. We even baked her a birthday cake while I wore her close to my heart. I still occasionally toss her on my back, at 2.5, when she is fatigued from long walks. She was definitely a worn baby. When she was one she would go to the sling basket, pick out a favorite Didymos wrap and say, “Ride!”. I loved that.
(Miss V in handmade Mei Tai 2 weeks old)
Babywearing has seen a fair amount of bad press in the past few months. I want to tell you that babywearing is safe and can be done right from birth as long as you follow a few simple rules. First one is keep baby “kissing” close. If you can feel your baby breathing and see their face then should anything go wrong you will notice immediately. SIDS can happen anywhere. I no longer recommend a reclined position in a sling since it allows a chin to chest position which reduced a babies oxygen flow. Young infants should be in an upright position with their back straight and supported. The best position in a carrier is one that mimics how you would hold a baby in arms.
(40 pound 4 year old in ringsling)
Babywearing won’t cause poor muscle tone and make a baby turn into a clingly toddler and child. All 5 of my children have walked between 8 and 9 months. Not just tottering but full on walking. My children are all curious and independent and have been from a very young age. They love snuggles but are happy to wonder off and explore things on their own. Their attachment was important to me as I went through the troubles of an attachment disorder when I was caring for my young brother.
Babywearing has helped my mental health. Because I didn’t have little ones that cried a lot my stress levels were lower. I had a regular feeling of accomplishment because I was able to get things done that I wouldn’t have been able to otherwise. When I was in the darkness of depression it was a feeling I desperately needed.
I have been lucky enough to try out just about every carrier that is available. (Mei Tai, Chunei, Wrap, Ring Sling, Podaegi, Kanga) you can see pictures of some of them here. Babywearing is not a new concept. Humans have been wearing their children for centuries. It is something that is natural and instinctual. Babywearing is an ecological choice. If you choose something like a Didymos they are often made out of Organic cotton. No plastics to pollute. Babywearing knows no cultural boundaries, each country has it’s own version but all societies have worn their infants.
(21 month old son in African Khanga)
If you are thinking of wearing your child I highly recommend you check out the links below. They will help you make a safe and informed choice. Please don’t use a carrier when driving, biking, rollerblading or while cooking or handling hot liquids. Use caution just like you would with anything. Thank you for reading and have a great day!
Person babywearing experience of Nugglemama, a Canadian Mom of 5 and blogger at Nugglemama’s Handful!