On your back, side or front. Do you know what babies love? YOU! You know what else babies love? To be held! I believe that building a strong, healthy attachment on both parents is a critical part of building strong, confident, healthy children.
2 . Hands free! Look, ma, no hands!
I thought babywearing was “useful” with one child. With two, it’s an necessary, and with three? Forget it. It’s SURVIVAL, especially before the littlest is mobile… but even way after. My big girls still needs to be worn sometimes. “Mama, but my legs are tired!” I can cook, hike, clean, do laundry, move stuff into a moving van, paint, whatever, while babywearing. It sure beats tired arms holding a squirmy, fussy kid.
3. Baby is safe.
Look, I’m not saying a zombie apocalypse or tsunami is inevitable, but you better well believe I’ll have a baby carrier with me when the fit hits the shan. I could strap all three children to me and carry them with one ring sling, if necessary. The undead will not eat their brains.
4. Easy breastfeeding.
It is very easy to nurse discreetly in a baby carrier. (Not that I’m saying you need to be discreet. I don’t care if you show your whole boob to me. Seriously.) It’s also a good way to nurse standing up and hands free.
I admit it – some carriers are straight up gorgeous. Some are hideous, too! There is a baby carrier out there that you will love and men will wear and love, too. Side note here: you may need more than one. I’m not saying you need a lot of expensive carriers, rather, you need a variety of types.
75% of the time that I am wearing a baby, some onlooker is incredulous. Most are genuinely curious – they’ve not seen one, perhaps, and often think I’ve made it myself or exclaim how “new” this technique is. “They didn’t have that when I had babies!” Oh yes, ma’am, “they” did. Parents have “worn” their babies for centuries, if not thousands, of years. And I bet in the hairy days of australopithecus afarensis baby clung to mama! Heck, in the 70s making your own “Snugli” from a fabric pattern was popular. My mama got a pattern from her local La Leche League meeting and carried us around in it.
Ok, a word about ergonomics.
In babywearing, this means that the baby’s spine and hips are properly supported. In other words, baby has a good “seat” and isn’t dangling and unsupported. Signs of a good fit in an ergonomic carrier are the fabric of the carrier reaches from knee-to-knee on the baby, and the seated position of baby’s legs and bum look like the letter “M” – this is called the spread squatting position. It is incorrectly thought that the “Baby Bjorn” style carriers can cause hip dysplasia in babies – they don’t. However, they may be more uncomfortable for wearer and baby. (Have one? You can make it ergonomic with a scarf! Watch this great video from a woman in our local babywearing group!)
Ann Moore, featured here, created the original Snugli baby carrier 46 years ago so she could remain active and still be physically close with her daughter, Mandela. Her inspiration came from watching mothers in West Africa while in the Peace Corps.
If you’re local and you want more info or help on babywearing, we’re happy to help. Our postpartum doulas are also able to practice with you while they are in your home providing support.
Lastly, a word on brands and styles.
In our local community, a few brands are all the rage. And they are over $100 each, some much, much more. Regardless of what kind, type, color or condition your carrier is in, if you have one you like and want to use it, go for it! Carry your baby in it, love your baby in it and I’ll smile at your sweet self when I see you at the playground or supermarket.
In conclusion, don’t worry about having “the right” one. The point of babywearing, after all, is to carry your lovely baby in a more convenient fashion. So let’s do that.
Amy is certified by ProDoula as a labor doula, postpartum and infant care doula and postpartum placenta specialist. She was certified by the Healthy Children Project and the Academy of Lactation Policy and Practice as a lactation counselor and is a birth, newborn and breastfeeding educator.