This post is part of “All About Babywearing” Month on Dirty Diaper Laundry.
While I was pregnant I researched the crap out of cloth diapers. Before my baby was born I knew all of the acronyms, how to wash, how to prep, all of the major brands and some of the not so major, the places to find info, etc.
While on that journey I noticed that most of the moms who cloth diapered also wore their babies in different carriers. Many of whom referred to themselves as “babywearers.” I wasn’t hip to that lingo, and so I started off researching babywearing as I did cloth diapering. What I found was a world full of strange terms like “didy” and 5.2 meters (hello, lets not confuse the Americans with the metric system, please), and ring sling, and mei tei, and more that I don’t even want to get into because I still don’t understand.
I never intended on becoming one of those mothers. One of those who wore their baby in a sling or wrap all of the time. In truth, I thought it was kind of silly. I also assumed it would get pretty hot being wrapped in yards of fabric and having a human heater attached to your chest. That statement does still have some truth to it! I had also never really seen anyone wear their baby, except in a Baby Bjorn or a Kelty like backpack carrier. I never saw a mom sporting a beautiful woven wrap with a baby snuggled inside, or a child cradled in a sling. I was clueless.
A part of me wanted to wear my baby because it was the culture I was getting into, but I honestly didn’t think it was for me. I decided that I would buy a ring sling for the newborn stage. I had read that using a ring sling and the cradle position (where the baby is basically cradled in the sling like you would hold him in your arms) was a nice way to transition them from the womb. Plus, it was possible to breastfeed while wearing them this way. Win.
Unfortunately, my idea kinda bombed. Even after watching a trillion You Tube videos on how to use the cradle position, how to adjust your ring sling, how to thread your ring sling, it wasn’t working. It was never tight enough, baby was always crying, he either sensed my discomfort because I was nervous about putting him in, or he genuinely did not enjoy that position.
I now know many mistakes that I made in those first few weeks. I had the ring sling threaded improperly, making adjustments nearly impossible. The fabric would bunch together and it didn’t slide through. It took my husband to pull it through to tighten it, which should have been an obvious sign that something was amiss. I was also terrified of harming my fragile newborn baby. I lowered him inside of the sling oh so gently, but never the right way. All of it was wrong. How I wish that I had tried a stretchy wrap back then. I know for my next baby we will be wrapping from day one.
I left my ring sling to collect dust for a couple of months. It was winter and we transported the baby to and from the car inside of the infant car seat. In stores he stayed in the car seat. At home I had to hold him constantly. Why wasn’t I wearing him? Because I assumed wearing babies was for running errands and shopping, not for around the house when you could just hold them. Again, I wish I could have told myself how stupid that was. I tried the ring sling ever so often but it failed.
Eventually I picked it up again and tried the tummy to tummy hold with his legs tucked in. This was successful, and I started wearing him around while we shopped and occasionally around the house when I needed to go downstairs to wash diapers.
Next hold we tried was the kangaroo hold. This was where he sat cross legged inside the pouch, facing outward. He enjoyed this one the most, and he looked so adorable too!
Soon after I purchased my Ergo. This was when I finally “got” babywearing. The Ergo was so easy to use because of the buckles. I put it on without ever reading instructions, and got it right. Fletcher fit in so comfortably, and I wanted to wear him everywhere I went. This really saved my life. He was not happy riding in the stroller, and so I had not gone out much. He would cry the entire time and I ended up holding him. Now, the weather was warming up and I was more comfortable wearing him, it became an everyday thing. I started wearing him while I shopped, while I went for walks, in the home, out to dinner, and everywhere.
Then, I wanted more. I wanted to try a wrap, so I did. I wanted to try a mei tei, and did. I even dusted off the ring sling and started using the hip carry as my son got older. I finally learned how to nurse in my Ergo, and that was also a revelation. You haven’t lived until you’ve walk around the State Fair with a baby hooked onto your breast amidst thousands of unknowing passersby.
I started wearing my baby for practical reasons. He cried, I wore him to free my hands and cease the crying. I wore him to prevent taking a stroller in the store or to the amusement park. But, I also enjoyed the closeness. I could kiss the top of his head, pat his butt (which I do way too much when I wear him, it is like an addiction), bounce him to sleep, and feel his hot little breath on my chest. I could wrap my arms around him for a hug and not have to physically support him. He was, and still is, completely safe in my arms.
I only wish I knew then what I know now. I would have been able to make myself lunch while wearing my baby instead of being stuck on the couch holding him. Next time I am going to have an arsenal of carriers for my every whim. My baby will be worn from day one, and I won’t have to call my husband to come home and make me a sandwich!
I asked some of my twitter friends how they got into #babywearing. Here are some responses:
@carareed said: colicky babe, 2 kids close together, babe who needed/wanted to be held constantly
@thegreenpair said: Seen some of the moms in my AP group #babywearing and checked into it. Saved my life-only way she wouldn’t cry/I get stuff done!
@nicolemarr (who designed my lovely button!) said: the desire to hold my little girl and never let her go made me buy a hotsling. Never did figure it out tho. Have a mei tai now
@rbrinner said: couldn’t bear to put my baby down. wanted to hold her too much, but still had to do things like, you know, eat. oh, and pee.
@marybethrabon said: I saw other moms #babywearing long before I got preggo, knew I wanted that. Then, DD required being held for 3 weeks.