Oh how I love babywearing! I don't know how parents get by without it. Today's post is going to be filled with pics of me and my little Luke and talks of how/why babywearing has been such a blessing in my life!
I wore Luke for the first time when he was 4 days old. I had a simple cotton ring sling made by the wonderful local crafty momma, and I wanted to keep my baby close to me at all times. Plus, due to my horrible 3rd degree perineal tear, I needed to use both hands to help push myself up to get from sitting to standing at all times for the first few weeks. I didn't want to have to hand Luke off every time I wanted to get up. So, learning how to use my ring sling was essential.
I loved my two ring slings in those early months. A lot of people choose a stretchy-style wrap (like a Moby) for their first carrier. I looked into it but found wrapping a little too complicated for this overwhelmed first time mom. And I had a feeling I'd have a fairly big baby (around 9 lbs), and stretchies aren't recommended past 15lbs, so I knew it wouldn't last long and didn't want to waste any money. So the ring slings just seemed like a much better fit for me.
But, as Luke grew, and was more curious about the world around him, he became more squirmy -- and I became more unsure of my virgin-babywearing-self. So I invested in a Ergo.
The Ergo allowed me to do SO much. It gave me the confidence of knowing he was in there properly and wasn't going to fall out. I would literally wear Luke for hours every day. He was a "clingy" baby, or as I like to say, a very "attached" baby; he wanted to be held constantly, and wouldn't sleep without being held. So every naptime, dog walk, housecleaning day, I'd have him in the Ergo. When Luke was teething he was even more clingy. I'd stick him in the Ergo and he'd be fine.
People often asked me how I lost the weight after having Luke --- it was a ton of walking. I'd walk with him for hours to keep him napping, and thanks to the Ergo I could.
I'm stereotyping, but for the most part, Dads prefer soft-structured carriers over slings and wraps. Maybe it's all the straps and buckles... more utilitarian looking. Mitch loves wearing Luke, and I like to call these pics Mommy porn :) Nothing sexier than seeing my hubby babywearing.
Soft-structured carriers are great for active, outdoorsy people. Mitch and I love to go out for walks in the woods, and love snow-shoeing in the winter.
As my love of babywearing grew, I looked into woven wraps. I have a couple of wrap conversion ring-slings that have replaced my first two ring slings. They are SO supportive, and Luke loves them still... even at 27 months. Even my hubby prefers to take the woven wrap conversion ring slings to wear Luke for quick trips to the store. If I had to choose only one baby carrier a WCRS would be it.
I have fallen in love with full length woven wraps too, mainly because of how supportive they are. I, honestly, would rather put Luke in a wrap than in the Ergo for long periods of time. I can get him in the perfect, custom fit, spot on my back or belly, and never get back pain for hours... even now that he's over 30 lbs. Wrapping is a little tricky but there are some great YouTube videos out there to help. But with a little practice you can get it and when you do you'll see how amazing it can be!
Babywearing has been such an eye-opening experience for me. It just "feels right", and has right from the start. Sure I did what most first time moms do, and go out and buy an expensive, top-of-the line, stroller. And I used it on rainy or stormy days when Luke was just a baby and our dog Jack needed to go for a walk. But I honestly can say that I might have used the stroller 1 in ever 20 times I went out for a walk, and only ever used the stroller out shopping once! Here's a fun little challenge for you: next time you're out at the mall on a busy Saturday, look around and see how many parents are pushing an empty stroller (it may be filled with shopping bags), while holding a cranky baby in the other arm.
I would be remiss if I wrote this post about babywearing and didn't write about safety. Babywearing is wonderful, but make sure you know what you are doing --- don't go out and buy "crotch danglers" like Baby Bjorns as they're bad for your baby's hips and alignment.... and often are uncomfortable for you too. Make sure, that no matter what carrier you use, that your baby's lower half looks like a big letter M... feet low, knees high, bum low .... knees should always be higher than their bum. Please don't ever do a forward facing carry until your baby is over 12 months --- overstimulation is a huge issue! Babies under a year need to face momma, and be able to hide their head away from the chaos that surrounds them from time to time. And always remember the TICKS of babywearing:
1) Tight - slings and carriers should be tight enough to hug your baby close to you as this will be most comfortable for you both. Any slack/loose fabric will allow your baby to slump down in the carrier which can hinder their breathing and pull on your back
2) In view - you should always be able to see your baby's face by simply glancing down. The fabric of a sling or carrier should not close around them so you have to open it to check on them. In a cradle position your baby should face upwards not be turned in towards your body.
3) Close enough to kiss - your baby's head should be as close to your chin as is comfortable. By tipping your head forward you should be able to kiss your baby's head or forehead.
4) Keep chin off chest - a baby should never be curled so their chin is forced onto their chest as this can restrict their breathing. Ensure there is always a space of at least a finger width under your baby's chin.
5) Supported back - in an upright carry a baby should be held comfortably close to the wearer so their back is supported in its natural position and their tummy and chest are against you. If a sling is too loose they can slump which can partially close their airway. A baby in a cradle carry in a pouch or ring sling should be positioned carefully with their bottom in the deepest part so the sling does not fold them in half pressing their chin to their chest.
So there you have it, a longwinded post about how I use babywearing to save my sanity :) I would love to hear from you on your thoughts and experiences too, so please comment or contact me. Thanks for reading!