Sunday, October 3, 2010

My Babywearing Experience

It has come to my attention that babywearing is under attack, that some types of slings/carriers are under attack. This makes me really sad. I can't imagine a world where some government entity tells me I'm not allowed to wear my baby, or that I can't choose to purchase a baby carrier. Crazy, isn't it? When done safely, there are so many benefits to babywearing. Here's my experience.

I received a hammock style baby carrier at a baby shower before Reese was born. I used it a few times, but there was something about it that made me uncomfortable. Reese hung down too far, the sides seemed to close in on her, and when I carried her, she kind of swung around if I moved. I think I would have become one of those moms who claimed that babywearing didn't work except that at the same time I was attending LLL meetings. Mamas at LLL used a variety of baby carriers, and I was assured that sometimes you had to try a few before you found one you really liked.

So my second baby carrier was a boring, gray Nojo ring sling that I got in desperation at Babies R Us because Reese got so upset when I put her down. I needed some way to hold her but also go about my daily business. We used the ring sling some, but not a whole lot. Admittedly there's a learning curve with ring slings, it takes some practice to feel comfortable and get it just right. But before I knew it, I was using the ring sling instead of a stroller when Reese and I went out. It was so freeing! No stroller! No loading and unloading!

When Reese was just 9.5 months old, I discovered I was pregnant with my second child. I continued to wear Reese, but explored other carriers too. Along the way I tried a mei tei and a Moby wrap. Nothing felt as comfortable as my ring sling.

After Eli was born, into the sling he went. He was an almost totally in arms baby from the start. And again, I found it was so easy. With a sleeping baby in a sling, I had my hands free and was more mobile. I could care for Reese while still caring for Eli. That's a win, win! I used an upright carry with Eli, his head and neck supported well, his head near my collarbone (so I could easily kiss him). His little legs were tucked up inside the sling. You know one of the best parts? The edge of the sling could be pulled right over his little head and people weren't always touching him. It was literally a barrier between my precious baby and germy weirdos who wanted to coo over him and touch him. We never did get the hang of nursing in the sling, but you know, that's okay. The experience we had with the sling was amazing, and I wouldn't change it for anything.

That old, boring Nojo went on to be used until Eli was around 3. There was no need for a stroller, of course. I didn't have to drag a baby bucket car seat around because I had the sling to carry the baby. I was able to hold Eli securely while still holding Reese's hand when we were out. I can't imagine anything easier. I'm always going to treasure those sling moments, when I could duck my head down and smell my baby, kiss his little head, know that he was so close to me.

Please consider reading this position paper released by the Baby Carrier Industry Alliance: Position paper for babywearing

If you have a babywearing experience you'd like to share, please do so! I'd enjoy reading your story, so link me in the comments. :)

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