Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Adventures in babywearing

We're babywearers around here. Basically what that means is that instead of schlepping Her Majesty around in an infant seat, we put her into a sling or a pouch and go about our business with her snuggled up to Mama or Daddy's chest and at least one of our hands free to do other things. (At a recent Koala Mommas meeting, Elizabeth and I tried out a mei tai carrier and I think I'm hooked. Baby carriers are addictive Trumpettes socks and Feltman Brothers dresses. But I digress.)

The reactions other people have when I'm out in public wearing Elizabeth in her sling have been very interesting. Many times, people are charmed by the sight of her all snuggled and sleeping. Frequently, if the observer is a mom with older (high school and up) children, she'll comment, "They didn't have anything like that when I was having babies!"

Actually, babywearing is a very, very old practice, but the only people who were doing it in the late 70s/early 80s were the parents who were crunchy before crunchy was cool. The first baby sling I ever saw was a homemade one that my partner for the eleventh-grade baby project brought in. His mom had used it with all three of her kids, and I thought it was really interesting at the time. Interesting enough that I remember it 10+ years later.

If the observer is a mom around my age, nine times out of ten she'll say "I tried a Maya Wrap/Peanut Shell/Hotsling with my baby, and s/he just HATED it!" I'm not really sure how to respond to this one, because most babies actually do like being cradled in a baby carrier as it's pretty close to the womb environment. Most moms, however, have never seen somebody put a baby in a sling or practiced it, and it does take some getting used to on both parts. I was sweating with nerves by the time I got Elizabeth into her sling for the first time when she was about a week old. She slept through the whole thing. Now I can pop her into and out of it with barely a moment's thought, and she smiles when she sees me put the sling on. The first few times, though, it was imperative that both she and I were relaxed and happy.

I feel like I should offer some help; I felt much more comfortable with various carriers and carries when experienced moms showed me how to use them correctly. On the other hand, I don't want to come off as pushy or preachy. I love babywearing and it's a practice with a lot of positive outcomes for both parent and baby and I do feel pretty passionately about it. Plenty of stores have started carrying baby carriers because they're becoming more mainstream; Target carries Hotslings and some Targets have Maya Wraps. What they don't have are people who are knowledgeable about the arcana of babywearing and can help new babywearers feel more comfortable and enjoy it more.

The other response I've gotten is "Nobody can see the baby's outfit when she's all wrapped up in that thing!"

Can't win 'em all. :-)

1 comment:

Mandy said...

I have heard lots of great things about those slings and it does seem that even in just the last year or so they have become more .. I dont know, more "mainstream" or something?? I wish someone would have enlightened me to them 4 years ago!!