I’m having a love affair.
With a piece of fabric.
And everyone knows.
I wear my baby. All the time. This picture is from the first time I wore my Pie in the wrap, when she was just a few weeks old. She had already been in the front-pack, but it was uncomfortable for me so I didn’t wear it much. Back then I wanted to wear my baby, but I didn’t like it. Now every picture of me has that tell-tale aqua fabric over my shoulders, whether the Pie is nestled inside or not.
Babies don’t “misbehave” when they’re being worn, so you can take them anywhere, including busy exhibits at the art museum. (and BTW, I don’t think babies ever “misbehave”. They alert their caregivers that they have a need. Unfortunately “good” babies are considered to be the ones who don’t cry, even if they’ve been taught that their only method of communication is “wrong” or garners no response. But more on that another day.)
How ironic that the first in my series of books that arrived for my postpartum doula program was The Vital Touch, right when this post was queued up and ready to go!
I had never really put much thought into whether I would wear my baby. Even before I knew the term “attachment parenting” I knew that wearing babies was best, for many reasons. They enjoy the closeness to mom, they feel swaddled, warm, and safe. In the “4th Trimester” babies do best when they’re held close, tight, and with body movement and body noise. (Body movement and body noise is different from a bouncy chair or swing with a button that plays some kind of shrill music. There is no replacement for that body contact.) And you can’t lose track of a baby who’s strapped to your body.
My mom wore me, and she wore my brother and sisters. Women around the world have worn their babies since we’ve had two pieces of grass to lash together. Prehistorically, moms carried the babies to keep tabs on them so they weren’t eaten or stolen by predators, and to keep them quiet so that they didn’t call attention, and thus danger, to themselves. It is part comfort, part necessity.
You know your baby is close and safe.
You can get things done.
I cook and clean in the wrap. I run errands in the wrap. I went through airport security with my Pie sleeping in the wrap. I attended a funeral with the wrap, as well as baby showers, weddings, concerts, meetings, movies. She’s been on hikes in the wrap. It’s been pooped on, peed on, puked on and spilled on. The only bad days with a wrap are when the wrap is in the wash. I think I need three – one to wear, one in the wash and one clean & ready to go. Or maybe I need 7. Or 12.
When my friend gave me her old wrap, my life changed. I was no longer tied to the couch holding a baby who would not be put down. I could go to the bathroom in the middle of the day, alone at home, without having to hear the Pie cry to be picked up! I could grocery shop without a fuss. I put the wrap on in the morning when I get dressed, and I take it off in the evening when I put the Pie to bed. We have figured out how to do absolutely everything in the wrap, except shower. That one’s tricky.
I love the wrap.
The American Academy of Pediatrics, Dr. Sears, and Penny Simkin, among others, advocate for wearing your babe. There are certainly situations when baby wearing is not safe – if you have a carrier that is inappropriate for your baby’s age/size, if you are wearing a carrier incorrectly, if your newborn is slumping in a sling, or if you are not paying attention. However women the world over have relied on carriers of varying kinds forever.
I highly recommend wearing babies in carriers. Wear your baby against your skin, as is strongly recommended for newborns, preemies, and babies in NICU. Babies are reminded of the womb – the physical closeness, hearing your breath and heartbeat, touching your skin, smelling you. Baby wearing leads to happy babies and happy mamas.
There are so many baby carriers on the market, it can be really hard to figure out which is best. If you’re able to try a few out before buying, you should. I prefer the Moby & Ergo carriers, but different bodies & different babies need different carriers.
My Pie has never been in a stroller. It’s not that I’m anti-stroller, I just haven’t needed one. My Pie and I are happy with baby wearing, and I think it’s better for us. Until she’s too heavy for me to wear her, I will. If you want to wear your baby but don’t like it, you may just have the wrong carrier. Or maybe your babe doesn’t like it. Some babies are more independent, don’t like the small space, or for some other reason don’t love being worn, but most do, and in fact need it, especially in the first 3 months.
My Pie is not one of the millions of babies in America growing up in a container. We have among the least-touched babies in the world! Think about how low-touch our society is. Have you ever laid on a massage table, relaxing and ready, only to absolutely melt at that first touch? Or even cry? Touch is so, so important, and so avoided in our culture.
There are some not-so-awesome bits about babywearing, I’ll admit. You get sweaty. In the cleave. You are drooled on and spit up on (also betwixt the ladies), and sometimes the diaper even leaks (thankfully that usually occurs a little lower than the boob line). But I still think that the only bad day with my wrap is when it’s in the laundry. I’m wearing it now, just like I wear it all day, every day.
I wear my baby. She is happy, healthy, soothed, trusting, comfortable, well-rested and bonded. We love it.