When my brother was a toddler, and I was young, my parents had this back pack in which they wore my brother. It looked a lot like a back-packing pack, formed with aluminum pipes and a cloth seat. They'd wear him whenever we went for walks or on long outings. There was no name for what they did- (at least in my 10 year old mind) they just did it and it was natural, to them and to me. I never really noticed others doing it but it worked for them and kept my brother happy.
When I had my first (17 years ago!) I received a structured front carrier by Snuggli, light blue with thin straps that I could use for a smaller baby. I wore her in it some, for city bus trips and walks in crowded places (like our state fair) but it never got used up. For one reason only did I not get into it- simply because it was not the most comfortable thing to use. I loved having her close, preferred the convenience over a stroller and marveled in the fact I could use both my arms but didn't have to worry someone was going to walk off with her in her stroller (yes I worried about this- she was too darn cute and many people playfully threatened to!). But those darn straps cut into to me!
As she got older and I had my second, I'd still use a lot of public transportation and many times I'd see mothers wearing their little ones, just wrapped onto them with a piece of cloth! HOW did they do that?! Where were they taught this? I so wished I had the same, but never got the courage to ask them. And babywearing slipped out of my mind and natural form.
Then while pregnant with my 4th I saw something different but attainable! The hit show- and one of my favorites- ER had key character Anthony Edwards wearing his new baby in a new structured baby carrier, that wore like a messenger bag over one shoulder and was made out of a studier fabric. I HAD to have one. With 2 older children and one 2.5 year, no car and lots of walking to do, I wanted something convenient and comfortable, where I could keep my new little one close. I scrimped and saved and was able to afford it. I used that thing daily! Loved it up and broke it in well. The only down side was it could only be worn on one side and if that side got tired I either had to take it off or just deal with it. Mostly I dealt with it.
When my 5th was born (almost 6 years ago)... it was December here in the tundra, and he was born early (34 weeks). I had one daughter in Kindergarten, who I walked to school, 3 blocks away, daily and another in preschool, who I also walked but it was about 6 blocks- this was not a choice but our only option, we only had one car and their father needed it for work. I knew I needed to keep him close and warm, or his health and safety would be at risk. (No stroller would do that) I still had the carrier from our last and used it as much as possible but noticed he was too small in it and I felt like he was drowning in it. I racked my brain on what to do.
I remember seeing a mama that fall before, while I was still pregnant, with her little one in what I knew was called a "sling"- different than what I was used to- just a "pocket" of fabric that babe was snuggled into but secure and safe and close to mama, and it looked SO much more comfy than anything I'd ever used before! I so wanted one.
I looked into price and it was WAY out of my range, but the design looked easy enough to make and I thought "Go for it, all you can do is try!" So I took my minimal sewing skills and I created my first sling carrier. Comfy and easy to use, he was never swallowed by it. I loved that thing and I fell in love with baby wearing! I was hooked! And good thing too- as little man was very high needs and the only thing he ever wanted was just to be close to me, on me, all the time! And I could meet his needs and those of my family at the same time without feeling torn. I used my homemade sling for almost 2 years!
So when Dh and I were expecting our 1st (my 6th and his 1st) I told him I wore my babies. He had no issue with me doing this but wasn't too sure about wearing him himself. I looked into the other baby wearing options out there now and settled on a Ultimate Baby Wrap by Parents of Invention. It's very similar to any other higher end, brand name stretchy wrap, just a little bit more affordable price wise. (I found mine on clearance for less than $20.) I also got a Hotslings baby carrier from Target. I thought I was set!
Being most comfortable with the simple sling, and slightly intimidated by the wrap, I tried using my Hotsling more often, but sadly because I had bought it at Target (who doesn't cater to plus size mamas very much) I'd gotten the largest size they had and it didn't fit over my huge breastfeeding boobs and we just were never very comfortable. But I was able to get DH to use it and he was hooked! I got informed on the easiest, best way to use my wrap and practiced, practiced, practiced. (Really this is how parents master all baby products- practice, proper instruction, and lots of support- nothing in unsafe if used PROPERLY!) I had a new love- wearing C in the wrap was just like wearing a t-shirt. I kept the wrap on most all the time.
We also bought one of those structured, framed back packs (a more modern version like my parents) for DH to use- I am too short for it to sit properly on my back. And thou it has been used, mostly it collects dust. But I also won't rid ourselves of it quite went as we may need it again in the future.
I was hooked on babywearing. I am hooked on babywearing. As little man grew the stretchy wrap stretched. (I was unaware it has a good weight limit of about 15 lbs) and by 5 months we weren't able to use it for more than an hour at a time. I did NOT want to give up wearing my baby- so I went on the hunt for our next carrier. Mai tie? Ergo? Something completely different? I decided on (yes me- DH loves to wear little man now but still leaves research and these decisions up to me) an Ergo. Best deal for our money and longest possible usage. You can easily wear your child till 3 years or more! They are a bit more structured and with the purchase of an infant insert (from the company) can be used from birth.
DH instantly loved it! So easy on his back and baby sits securely in it. (This is why our structured back pack sits in a closet most of the time) The Ergo is made out of a canvas/denim type fabric (no not sure of the exact name- my brain does not work this way) with wide and well padded shoulder straps and wide waist band. Little one sits in a proper position (on their bottom, instead of on their genitalia, like most other structured carriers) with their hips extended. It can be used on your front (with baby facing you), sit on your hip, or on your back. I still use it 5 months pregnant, with C. Ours will be getting a lot of use of the next coming 4+ years, and it is so worth it!
Right after we had C we'd wear him wherever we went. Shopping, walks, park, doctors visits, just around the house- to keep him as close to us as possible. He was a part of me, connected to me for so long. Putting him down and leaving him never felt right. As humans I feel we are not meant to do this- we are meant to keep our littles as close as possible till THEY are ready to break out on their own. And trust me they will let you know when they are ready!
I've been approached by so many. Never have I had a negative encounter. I've had a few where they've raised an eye brow (when C was a bit over a year but not quite walking) and I'd be questioned on shouldn't you let him walk now- my reply "Well I would be he's decided he's not ready yet and doing so would slow us way down. As he's a fast crawler but not that fast!" To which I'd usually get a giggle and a smile. People love to ask questions and see little ones loved, snuggled and quiet! (Yes little ones being wore are usually a lot more quiet!)
I saw so many more people wearing their tinys. And then it stopped suddenly! Babies in bucket seats Everywhere! Why? Because of the Bag style sling recall and the scare and fear tactics that were employed. Many babywearing mamas tried to get the word out that baby wearing was safe but These particular devices were not! But as media and word of mouth got a hold of this, it grew and all slings, wraps and carriers were seen as Evil! We could not get word out well enough or strong enough to stop the madness! And now everything is stepping backwards. Loved, safe companies are going out of business. Stores are pulling all baby wearing carriers off the shelves. More and more little ones are being left in their strollers and bucket seats- to sit and not be touched, even in light of the latest research showing HOW BAD leaving babies in car seats for more than just a car ride is and that it is no longer recommended to use them for other than their intended use. Damage has been done.
Our voices need to be louder! Need to be stronger! Only through us will the world really know how safe and better for baby, babywearing is! How do you do this? Talk, yell if you have to, get involved in a babywearing community. Here on Facebook is a great place to start. If you blog, blog about your experience, share the passion you have!
If your new to babywearing, or just looking to start, there are many resources available. API (Attachment Parenting International) holds how to discussions on babywearing (and other Attachment Parenting stuff), here where I am most of these are held in the fall and winter months so this is the perfect time to find one!
There are also many blogs on babywearing. A good friend of mine and babywearing mama has her own, which I highly recommend to everyone! Her stories are funny and heart touching- she's worn her little ones 2 at a time and even while hospitalized with a serious illness. Feel free to read her blog and share!
For me babywearing is not just a choice I get to make freely (well for now, if the CPSC steps in it won't be) it's the best option for me and my little ones. And at points in my life it really was the ONLY option that was safe for my babe. I, as the parent, am responsible for the choices I make as a parent and to use the baby items I decide to purchase in the correct manner. I am solely responsible for making informed choices and doing the foot work and research to find what is best- I should not rely government agencies to do the work for me- there are many different products and probably only one team of "researchers" to research them all. I know my family, my children and have the most invested in the research I do so I know I'll make the right decision for us.
Being a RESPONSIBLE PARENT means taking on the responsibility that comes with the job. Let me do my job.
Love your baby, wear your baby and keep them close!
For my next little one I want to try a Mei Tai, if I can't find one to borrow or buy cheaply I'll break out my sewing machine and try my hand at making another baby carrier! Ohhhhh I love babywearing!
Hey check out another great blog about babywearing! And if you're a blogger she has a chance for winning a great sling! Just follow the directions for your chance to win! Also a third blog to link too- also with a chance to win a great sling, just make sure to share where and what to do, so there are enough enteries to run the contest! So many great resources!