Today we have a guest post from my good friend Jillian. Jillian is one of the administrators of our local babywearing group and is just starting up her business to sell carriers. And since I tested a ring sling for her, I can say they’re great carriers! I was sad to give mine back! You all know how much I love babywearing, so I’m glad to present these wonderfully informative posts. Be sure to join us tomorrow for the second part in this two-part series!
I had a dream last night. In my dream, I had a beautiful newborn baby. My baby was adorable and perfect with 10 tiny fingers and 10 tiny toes. My days were so happy. My baby hardly cried at all. I knew within moments when he was hungry and was able to soothe him with ease. I kept him safe from the germy pass the baby game and gave him a safe place to snuggle all with my hands free to get on with my life. I rocked him to sleep easily whenever he wanted and was even able to make dinner during the process. But, this wasn’t a dream… this was real and it was just a few months ago when I had my second son. I am Jillian and I am a Babywearer. Yup… one of those crazy ladies you see at the store that seems to have a kid hidden in their shirt. I am here to tell you why you should hide your kid in your shirt too.
The idea of carrying a baby on your person while you keep your hands free is not new. Do you really believe that Cro-Magnon women had strollers? Did they even have the wheel yet? I don’t think so. No, this is not new. It has been practiced in every culture in the world since babies were born and it really only seems weird in the U.S. but, that is slowly changing. There are so many fantastic reasons to wear your baby that it seems a little overwhelming so I will just highlight a few:
Babywearing=Happier Baby=Happier Parent=Awesome: Babies that are worn cry less over all. Since crying causes stress for babies and parents, it would naturally follow that less crying would mean less stress for babies and parents and that is just common sense. Who hasn’t heard the “This baby just wants to be held ALL THE TIME!” Well… wear them and you can hold them and have your hands back.
Babywearing promotes development: When a baby is worn, they tune into the rhythm of your breathing, the sound of your heartbeat, and the movements you make – walking, bending, and reaching. This stimulation helps him to regulate his own physical responses, and helps him to learn balance control. Wearing your baby creates a “transitional womb” and helps your baby learn to control his movements. It also provides a safe, comfortable place for your baby to get restorative growth sleep at any time of day. Seeing the world at your level helps baby learn faster, stimulates their learning and keeps them feeling secure and safe. Wearing your baby can provide emotional safety when needed, so that children can venture into the world and become independent at their own pace and it can even dramatically increase the chances of successful breastfeeding!!! What a miracle, right?
Babywearing is convenient and FUN: Having your hands free while carrying your child provides endless opportunities to get things done that you normally would not be able to get done. When you wear your baby, you can walk around freely and not have to worry about negotiating steps, crowds or narrow aisles with a stroller. Removable car seats are heavy and awkward for parents and they are not safe to be put on top of shopping carts, no matter how many people you see doing it. A sling can block out excess stimuli when breastfeeding a distractible baby and it allows for discreet nursing in public places. A sling can also double as a changing pad, blanket, or cushion when away from home. Cook dinner, play with another child, go for a walk or play on the computer. All these things can be done more easily while wearing your baby. So be selfish; do it for you!
After all of these fantastic and exciting reasons to wear your baby, you may be wondering to yourself, “Self, how do I go about wearing my baby?” Well, I will tell you, but first, you need to know about safety. I do not want to minimize the importance of the next statement so I am putting it in all caps so you really pay attention: WEARING YOUR BABY CAN BE DANGEROUS IF NOT DONE CORRECTLY!!! Really people, sweet little babies have died while being worn incorrectly and that is just a sad, true fact. Just like any children’s product, if you do not use it correctly and safely, it can harm your child. Strollers can be safe, unless you push them off a cliff. Baby swings are safe, unless they are underwater… What I am saying is that if you use some common sense and a few pointers, babywearing will be an extremely safe experience. Here is the safety low down:
Keep your baby UPRIGHT: Your baby should be upright with their stomach against you and the carrier should be tight. If you leave slack in the way you tie or tighten the carrier, over time while wearing it, you will be sad because your back will be aching and your baby will slowly migrate down your torso and look like a limp noodle. Don’t wear a limp noodle!! Also, please make sure that your newest babies have good head support. Their little necks just can’t support their big noggins for a while.
Close enough to Kiss: Your baby’s head should be close enough for you to kiss (obviously not possible in back carry) When you are putting your baby in the carrier, you want them to be up high enough that you can literally bend at the neck and kiss them on top of the head. It will be more comfortable for you and them that way.
Open Airway: This seems like the most important thing so maybe it should have been first, but it wasn’t so pay attention… a baby being worn should never have their chin curled towards their chest. This can restrict air flow and cut off their breathing leading to suffocation. This is the main reason why I do not recommend a “cradle” carry in a sling (where baby is lying down example: here). Check your baby’s breathing often and having them upright and close enough to kiss will make that a very easy thing to do.
Knees above Bum: The carrier must support the Spread Squatting Position (SSP). In this position, the baby’s legs will form an “M” shape from foot to foot. This seated shape ensures that the spine and hip joints develop properly. This ergonomic positioning helps to shape the hip joint in our babies, which is actually soft cartilage until the age of 2. There is so much more to this that I cannot possibly do it justice, so here are some awesome links to check out that will expand your mind…
Jillian is the mama of two growing boys in a house where even the dog is a man. She uses her “Free Time” to make slings, wraps and cloth diapering things over at Pretty Paisley Productions and is one of the Administrators for the Babywearing group in her region of Utah. She loves to laugh and usually spends most of her time laughing at herself.
To be continued next year! By which I mean tomorrow. Have fun celebrating tonight! -Claire