Babywearing Guest Blog
By Jacque Shelton-Raftery
Baby-wearing is the practice of wearing or carrying a baby in a sling or other form or carrier. In recent years the popularity of this practice has increased in Western cultures. While some parents are just discovering its benefits the practice of wearing babies and young children has been practiced around the world for centuries.
One of the benefits that new and seasoned parents alike can see with baby-wearing is how comfortable and safe baby feels. A worn baby is a happy baby; and happy babies cry less. A study referenced by Babywearing International (1) published in the journal of Pediatrics states researchers found that baby-wearing for three hours a day reduced infant crying by 43 percent overall and 54 percent during evening hours. As a mother to a new baby who I am sure came close to a colic diagnosis I cannot express how helpful it was to find a carrier that worked for us and finally allowed everyone in our home to enjoy more peaceful time together than time trying to figure out how to soothe a crying baby.
Building confidence as a first time parent is difficult. Add in being separated from family by distance is daunting to attempt, let alone succeed, in completing daily tasks while simultaneously figuring out how to care for this tiny life you are responsible for. Baby-wearing can be a tool that helps you do this. Keeping your baby close lets you learn how to read their cues faster than if they were in a bouncy seat or car carrier. When you can understand what your baby needs before they begin to fuss instead of cry it benefits both of you. Your baby grows to know they can depend on you to care for them, that confidence is the foundation on which we build our attachment relationships. It also gives you the satisfaction and comfort of successfully meeting your baby's needs. In addition to the emotional confidence you gain, wearing your baby can also allow you to regain some of your ability to accomplish basic tasks like grocery shopping or cleaning, because it leaves you hands free while still comforting your little one.
The greatest gift baby-wearing gave to me was the ability to bond with my baby while managing my Postpartum Depression. The closeness we needed in order to build our relationship, for him to really feel like he was mine; was generated by the ability to wrap him to my chest and keep him there for hours each day. The almost equally important benefit to surviving life with PPD is that baby-wearing allows you to care for yourself while simultaneously caring for your baby. Self-care is vital to mitigating the symptoms of Postpartum Mental Illness (PPMI) and self-care looks a little different for everyone. Keeping a regular routine of hygiene, cooking and cleaning while not missing out on the invaluable snuggles is no doubt how we began to thrive as a new mama and new baby. (If you are interested in learning more about PPMI or need support, please see the links below).
While we often see mothers wearing their babies, the benefits of wearing extend past the primary caregiver and to any caregiver, even siblings. Any caregiver can benefit from baby-wearing. Babies need physical touch to thrive, keeping them close in a carrier is one of many ways to not only to meet their basic needs but also gives them the opportunity to become familiar with the heartbeat, voices, breathing patterns and smell of their caregivers. Not only are you benefiting other caregivers with the opportunity to build a healthy attachment with your new baby, it gives mom a much needed break, especially in the those early months when sleep is hard to come by.
A Bit About Me
I began my baby-wearing journey when my son was only a few weeks old, he is now 17 months old and we still wear multiple times a week. The first carrier that made wearing click for me was the Baby K’Tan and after that I discovered woven wraps. After getting my first one became my fast favorite carrier style, followed by the wrap conversion ring sling. The baby-wearing community online is strong and I was lucky to find a few groups that clicked for me right away. These women shared their experience with me and helped me find my passion for baby-wearing and sharing the love with others. After receiving so much love and support I decided it was time for me to give to as many people what I had received as a new parent and baby-wearer. A fellow baby-wearer and I decided to affiliate our local group with Baby-wearing International where I am one of 2 Volunteer Baby-wearing Educators and am the president of our chapter, Southeastern Arizona. I take great pride in the work I do for our chapter and wholeheartedly enjoy spreading the wealth of knowledge about baby-wearing both in person and online.
If you would like to learn more about baby-wearing visit this site and become a member of TBW (The Baby Wearer). There is an enormous amount of baby-wearing information available on Facebook; joining Everyday Babywearing is a great group to start with. Though, I highly suggest finding a group close to you so that you can try on carriers in person that interest you. Many larger groups have lending libraries that allow you to check out carriers so you have some time to get comfortable with them before deciding to purchase. There are many ways to find a local group to you: visit www.babywearinginternational.org to so see if there is an affiliated chapter near you; ask in your local parenting or yard sale sites or groups, more often than not people will point you to what is available; contact your local La Leche League and also ask your midwife, obstetrician or pediatrician's office.
Bridget asked me to give a bit of information about my favorite wraps in a variety of price ranges so I am going to be as inclusive as possible. I will also include the name of the Facebook chatter groups so that if you are interested you can join and learn more about the companies and browse the colors and styles available.
My experience lies mostly within the mid range pricing as that is what my budget can withstand. Though I have tried or heard rave reviews from trusted baby-wearing friends of mine that fall everywhere on the spectrum. Please note, while I am focusing on wraps please know there are 4 other carrier styles out there that I am happy to answer questions about and give feedback on.
First things first, my favorites! These wraps generally cost between $150 to $200 depending on the length.
1. Didymos, Didymos Love and Appreciation 2. Silver Lining Slings, Silver Slingers 3. Ellevill, Ellevill Love and Spamville 4. Tekhni Woven Sling Studio, Talk About Tekni 5. Cari Slings, Cari Slings Chatter 6. Kokoskaa Wrap Factory, Kokoskaa Wrap Factory Friends
Wraps that won’t break the bank, retail pricing around $110 or less, some quite a bit less.
Lastly, there isn’t a time that it is too late to start wearing your baby nor is there a limit on how long you can wear your baby, toddler or preschooler for. This is a beautiful practice and useful tool that benefits both the caregiver and child who engage in it. Enjoy all the snuggles and Happy Baby-wearing!