Tuesday, September 22, 2009

National Babywearing Week

This week is International Babywearing Week. In case you are new to or unfamiliar with the concept of babywearing, here is a basic definition:
“Babywearing” simply means holding or carrying a baby or young child using a baby carrier. Holding babies is natural and universal; baby carriers make it easier and more comfortable, allowing parents and caregivers to hold or carry their children while attending to the daily tasks of living. Babywearing helps a new dad put a fussy newborn to sleep. It allows a new mom use both hands to make a sandwich. It lets an experienced parent or caregiver carry a baby on her back and wash the dishes, do the laundry, take a hike, weed the garden … all while keeping the baby safe and content.
Babywearing is a subject I am very passionate about. In this day and age, there are so many products on the market that allow you to plop your baby down while you go about your day. Papasan swings. Bouncers. Exersaucers. Jumpers. Don't get me wrong - I'm not opposed to the use of these products at all. They are lifesavers in their own right. But I do think they make it easier to dismiss the power of touch and intimacy. Some of the many benefits to babywearing are:
  • Happy babies - babywearing for 3 hours or more a day can reduce infant crying by up to 54 percent!
  • Healthy babies - premature babies who are attached to their mother and touched gain weight faster than those who are not
  • Confidence - babywearing can deepen the bond between parent and baby and allow us to become attuned to their movements, gestures and expressions
  • Loving caregivers - babywearing allows fathers and other caregivers to forge a strong attachment
  • Comfort and convenience - Keep your hands free to cook, clean, take care of other children or perform other tasks
There are multiple ways to wear your baby. There are wrap slings, pouch slings, ring slings, mei tais, soft carriers and framed carriers - just to name a few. There are endless fabric and color choices so your carrier can fit your personal style. I would highly recommend visiting a local store or boutique with your baby to test out several types of carriers before making a commitment. Ask friends to borrow any carriers they own so you have an idea of what works for you. For example, Nate preferred a soft structured carrier to a sling. If I hadn't compared the two, I may have made an investment I regretted.

If I could offer one piece of advice to someone new with babywearing, I think it would be that babywearing is a skill, rather than just a a ready-to-wear product. Some of the techniques and carrying positions can be a little difficult to master. But with patience and persistence, you will soon experience one of the most rewarding things parenthood can offer. There is nothing like having your baby held up against your chest, his or head buried next to your heart. It's soothing for baby and satisfying for mom (or dad!).

Nate had colic for the first 3 months of his life and if it weren't for my Ergo carrier, I don't know what I would have done. He would cry incessantly for hours and hours each night. I would hold him helplessly in my arms, unable to do anything else but sit on the couch, rocking him. Babywearing allowed me to comfort him and hold him close while getting some much-needed things done around the house. My natural rocking and swaying motions, in addition to the warmth of my body heat and rhythm of my heartbeat, would lull him right to a peaceful sleep. It was then that I became a true believer in the power of babywearing.

Here are some pictures of Nate in his Ergo at 3 months old. We were at Longwood Gardens for their Fall Festival. He was so comfortable that he slept through 90% of our trip.

At just under 14 months old, our babywearing days are limited as Mr. Independent prefers to walk and run. I am hopeful this is just a phase and we can return to it soon enough. But I will always cherish the fond memories of wearing my baby boy.

Disclaimer: I was not compensated in any way, shape, or form for this post.


Adventures In Babywearing said...

This is great! And I agree- the more you wear your baby, the more natural it feels and looks and becomes a skill you can master!!


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