Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Guest Post: Baby Wearing

I knew when I got pregnant with Levi that baby wearing was probably something that would become a life-saver for me with two Little Biddles, but I knew next to nothing (have a moby, wore it twice with Jonah...) about baby wearing. So I turned to a friend from high school who is, in my opinion, the master of baby wearing. So, without further ado, here is Kate-Alice:

About Me:
My name is Kal, I am a mother of one, and Megan and I were high school friends. We reconnected when we found out the other was expecting! I live in Grand Rapids, MI, work part-time, and blog about my experiences with parenting and life.

Megan asked me to write a little bit about baby wearing. I'm going to focus not only on why baby wearing is good for parent and child (that's right, not limited to moms), and the wraps I personally have experience with. I tend to go for the stretch hybrids or the gauze wraps from Wrapsody. I love baby wearing, and it has truly become a part of my identity. There are many different types of carriers, just make sure you read consumer comments. Don't just pick any youtube DIY that is out there.  Check your sources please. I encourage you to find better people than me to ask questions about baby wearing. I am not an expert - I just like to share what little knowledge I have. :)

Why I wear my baby:
I am a believer in attachment parenting, and for me, babywearing is a huge part of that. I enjoy cuddles and my Z was a huge butt about being set down. For us, wearing was a key aspect of making sure I didn't lose my brain and she got what she needed. I learned to nurse in a wrap, I put her in a wrap for mall trips, into the store, around the house, out for walks, whenever. Even though she has been walking since last summer, I still put her in wraps when I need to get housework done and she wants to be near me.

For younger children, babywearing simulates being inside the womb. Hearing the heartbeat, keeping warm with body heat and the natural swaying an oscilating that parents do help calm babies. Babies that want to be held and stay up near the parents face are smart - they want to be where the language is, where the sounds and the facial expressions are - its the best place for them to learn.

Also, as a breastfeeding mom, I used wraps for on-the-go feeding. It takes practice, and you need to know your body and your baby's body before trying it out in public. Try feeding around the house before you try it at the checkout lane at Meijer. And yes, I have fed Z while scanning my own produce at the store, I'm sure it was caught on camera. But guess what - CHECK LAWS. In most states, breastfeeding women are exempt from public nudity laws. It's ok to have a nip slip, or to have a baby get bored and unlatch. Feeding in a carrier can reduce your anxiousness if you haven't fed in public before. If someone gets close enough to see what is going on - it's time to press harassment charges. ;)

Babywearing for me is mostly about not having a screaming child, but for some, babies are a fashion. The wraps and carriers come in all sorts of styles, fabrics, and patterns. Some are one piece, but I tend to gravitate towards wrap carriers. I use two main types, the Bali Breeze and the Bali Stretch. I used to use a MOBY, the Seven Slings, and the Flip. - but they didn't turn out to be what I could use and I didn't like as much. I also have a ring sling from BabyEtte for super duper short trips.

How not to wear a baby (there is a doll falling out of her wrap!).

1. Make sure baby can breathe. Without the proper head control, you have to make sure that there is no fabric over the baby's face, and they aren't curled down.
2. Never do anything you wouldn't do holding a baby, this includes jogging, running, jumping on trampolines etc.
3. Never use a baby carrier riding in the car.
4. Check types of carriers and what ages they can be used for. (I use wraps which are good for all ages, but certain carries are better for different ages and development stages)
5. Inspect your carriers. Check the fabric, check straps, make sure they are in working order.
6. Protect baby from the elements - hats, coats, carriers don't have protection, be aware.
7. Practice before using baby, or practice over a soft surface like a bed/gym map

Carry Videos : I have drawn from a few of my favorite videos for this., youtube, and I take no credit for making these videos. I have provided the original links so you can like them and enjoy. 
Front carry:
I like to use a simple pre-tied front carry for a lot of my babywearing outside the home. The front cross carry is the instruction that comes with every type of wrap carrier. This can be tied before leaving the house, and usually doesn't need to be adjusted.

The basic X or front cross carry is the easiest carry to do. It is easy to adjust, it is comfortable for baby and doesn't put all the strain on one shoulder like some carries. The only warning I have is to be mindful of your temperature and babies temp. In the winter, a heavy wrap (like a Moby) can get hot! Dress yourself in a tank, baby in a onesie, and throw a coat on over top. If you have something lighter (Bali Breeze or Bali Stretch) you can think of it as a layer of clothing. Never dress a baby in more layers than you would wear.

Back carry:
For all back carries, learn to put baby safely on your back. I suggest using WrapsodyBaby because there are several different methods. I actually use a "double hammock carry" for when I need to get all my chores around the house, or want to go for a walk. Best done after baby has been fed, and can be used to help lull into nap time.

With this one, remember to put the first pass around your chest, then spread it out for the second pass around the baby. This carry is really good for long time wear. Be careful that baby can reach new stuff when up higher (like hair).

Multiple baby carry:
Wearing two similarly sized babies. Zelda (15 mo) and Xander (8 months)
 In  picture above I am using two wraps for the two babies.
For Xander and Zelda I used a double hammock carry, then a basic X carry over that. It is a little warm, but the babies balanced pretty well. For two different sized babies, the larger one should go on your back. There are single wraps for multiple children, but I never have two all the time to experiment on. You can also use a wrap and a ring sling combination, or ever wear one and have one in the stroller. Use what works for you - if something doesn't, that's ok.

That should give you a start for babywearing, but practice, practice, practice. Make sure to read comments on youtube videos when you want to try a new wrap or carry. If the comments are all negative, look somewhere else. There are plenty of good resources, ask your friends if there is a mom's group for trading carriers.

Just remember, I am not and end-all, know-all. There are many other carrys and carriers out there. There are some babywearing groups out there that do rentals, and I encourage anyone to try before you pick out something.

More about babywearing:

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