Blog to Inspire: The Art of Babywearing

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This following post was an entry in our Blog to Inspire contest. The opinions expressed in this post are those of the author and not necessarily those of Eco Baby Steps or Parenting By Nature.

Arts & Lit Interrupted profileBlog to Inspire entrant Arts & Lit Interrupted is Gillian Young. She is figuring it out as she goes.

Yes, it is an art, I believe. Straps, buckles and clips, twisted and fastened to carry a little one just begging endlessly to be “up”. It can be a bit intimidating for a beginner. For me, it all started with a Hotsling, a pocket of cloth draped over my shoulder. This was such a fabulous tool, I wish I had it sooner than 3 weeks into Mommydom. I could nurse in it, and go about my day-to-day with my little sugarplum nestled at my bosom. Such a wonderful feeling for both of us. The Hotsling had a gentle learning curve, really easy to use.

I then graduated, yes, I think that is appropriate, to the stretchy wrap. It is more complicated, but more comfortable and versatile—and hark, I could nurse in it as well! I have worn my babe out to dinner in this, and no one was any the wiser, greatly impressing my parents who were skeptical of the merits of babywearing. I still use this when I don’t feel like bundling the little one up, I just zip him into my coat and go.

As the days grew on, I quickly learned that what I had envisioned myself doing with baby wasn’t going to be a reality—so naive!! I pictured my babe and I stroller-hopping through our small lakeside town endlessly this summer. WRONG! He hated the stroller, loathed it, screamed as soon as his back hit the padding. I was beside myself as I really craved the outdoors and wanted to instill this same passion in him. He was quickly outgrowing the sling (which btw I think will be great again once he is sitting upright) and I wasn’t loving the disc-crushing discomfort that I endured just to get out of the house. I had bought a Baby Bjorn, and thankfully I managed to sell it, as it is absolutely uncomfortable and impossible to nurse in.

I purchased the Balboa Baby sling (recommended by Dr. Sears) which saved the day for a while. My little guy would calm right down in it (still does on a crazy day), and the way the strap worked (ring sling style with padded shoulder) seemed to be the ticket for me. At almost 20 pounds I still use it when he is teething, having a growth spurt, or just an “up” day (you know those days where the only time they are out of arms is when you make food or visit the loo!)

Furthering my quest to find comfort, I turned to the internet. I regularly peruse the website of Parenting by Nature, a terrific site for the discerning parent wanting eco-friendly choices, and I happened upon a carrier called the Pikkolo, by Catbird Baby. I loved my stretchy wrap-style carrier, but didn’t want to be dragging straps of a mei-tai through snowy slush that is coming soon – ick! The Pikkolo is a miracle-worker. I can nurse in it, no problem. My little guy loves facing out in it too, something hard to find in a soft structured carrier. My husband wears it around town, much to the delight of the little old ladies that beam when they see my two guys coming toward them. It is funny that he will wear this carrier, as we specifically purchased the Bjorn for him, and he just wasn’t willing to withstand the discomfort, despite the more masculine appearance.

I had read in my research on attachment parenting that regularly wearing your baby, aside from all the other wonderful benefits (outlined by Dr. Sears), was that if babies hate their stroller, they will eventually become familiar with your babywearing route and take to sitting in the stroller for the same route. I have to say it has worked for us. The babe will now, at 6 months, tolerate the stroller for our usual path. Though we both now love wearing him so much that it just seems so much easier and cuddly to just pop him in his Pikkolo or stretchy wrap instead. Who wants to stick to the same route anyway!

Now that the babe is almost 20 lbs, babywearing allows me to be hands-free for chores (oh what fun!) A surprising bonus of being a babywearer? Walks on the beach, yes, ON the beach. There is no way my strollers’ stubborn wheels would have allowed for this! The sound of waves always makes the little one go limp with relaxation.

For further info on what carrier will work for you, check out reviews and instructions at The Babywearer.

Read about the Blog to Inspire contest and read posts by the finalists and by the rest of the entrants. Forty-four bloggers reached out to inspire on the topics of cloth diapers, babywearing, breastfeeding, and natural parenting.

Blog to Inspire: Parenting au Natural

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This following post was an entry in our Blog to Inspire contest. The opinions expressed in this post are those of the author and not necessarily those of Eco Baby Steps or Parenting By Nature.

Blog to Inspire entrant Education Uncensored is Jerry Ann Reason. Education is her focus. One person at a time, she educates the world.

I am certainly not what most people would consider a green-save-the-earth kind of person. But, I do what I can, where I can. I just don’t go around sharing really. But, when it comes to my children and parenting, I’ll be the first to pipe up and say, “here’s what worked for me, maybe you should give it a try”.

And, what would be my number one piece of advice? Baby wearing. I didn’t get to wear my second born as much as my first simply because I had to have back surgery. But, most people find that wearing the second one is much more beneficial because it frees time for playing with the first born, especially when they are only 22 months difference in their ages.

However, baby number one was a big hefty baby from the get-go and so wearing him was so much easier than putting him on my hip and trying to get around. I live in the midst of family and I could tuck him in, and start walking. I was able to visit many of my family members and one in particular who died with cancer about a year later. He would sit on his porch and wait on us to make our daily walk by his home.

And, my other piece of advice is “just play”. Having a degree in physical education and being a former daycare owner, I can’t tell you the importance of letting kids learn through their own manipulation of toys, games and even imaginary pieces of equipment. Make-believe friends and made-up playground games can make for some of the best learning ever.

There is so much more than can be done to help your children learn naturally and to help you as a parent bond with your child. Medical reasons prevented me from taking advantage of some of them and simply not desiring to use others were my deciding factors. But, as a daycare owner, I can’t tell you how many times a parent would come into the daycare to get their infant to find me with their baby tucked snuggly away in a carrier. I think that alone might have been one of the key factors in the success of my daycare. Parents knew I cared, they knew I wanted their kids in my center and wanted them to be happy.

One child in particular was quite fussy and preferred to be held. In a normal daycare setting, that simply isn’t possible. But, by putting the baby in the sling and then wearing him, he was able to get the comfort he desired from being close to someone and I know his parents felt better about leaving him. I know I would have if I had been the parent.

I leave you with no pressure to take part in any baby-rearing techniques that you aren’t comfortable with, but those are two that most definitely appeal to me for one reason or another. And, without a doubt, you probably have your own ideas about what works and what doesn’t as well as what is important and what isn’t. Trusting your own gut is the best parenting decision you will ever make.

Read about the Blog to Inspire contest and read posts by the finalists and by the rest of the entrants. Forty-four bloggers reached out to inspire on the topics of cloth diapers, babywearing, breastfeeding, and natural parenting.

Blog to Inspire: Babywearing. Can You Repeat the Question?

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This following post was an entry in our Blog to Inspire contest. The opinions expressed in this post are those of the author and not necessarily those of Eco Baby Steps or Parenting By Nature.

Blog to Inspire entrant Of Gypsies and Cowboys is Deanna. She and her family a year ago started living more consciously and frugally.

Babywearing Life Less Loaded 1


“Baby wearing? Umm. Can you repeat the question?”

Babywearing Life Less Loaded 2This stuttering response was the sum-total of my knowledge surrounding baby wearing. Expecting our first child, my husband Jeremy and I thought we had covered everything: A plush stash of cloth diapers, classes on labour and breastfeeding, a safe and toxin-free nursery, and the loopy naive grins of a couple who had yet to hit the delivery room. Given that we had a fresh-out-of-the-box stroller and able arms, we were assured that transporting our baby would be both simple and efficient (as parenting is supposed to be…right?).

Now, eighteen months later, I am on my way to living as an accomplished baby wearer.

Babywearing Life Less Loaded 3What stimulated this unexpected choice? Perhaps it was the deep and lasting life-shift we experienced soon after Jeremiah was born; conversations, choices, and events leading us into a new journey and life-style which shaped our family into something much more fluid and organic than we had ever expected. Changes from synthetic products to natural, consumer roles to producer, urban living to mountain ranch, and employed to…not, may have played a role in nudging us towards adopting baby-wearing so enthusiastically. Or perhaps it was simply embracing the fact that when you’re a parent on the move your babe needs to move with you. While I remain unsure as to the specific event or reason motivating us to step into this incredible mode of interaction, I am confident that it will remain within our family as long as there are babies to wear.

Babywearing Life Less Loaded 4Throughout the past several months, the following notes have been left scribbled for my husband Jeremy.

“Down at the lake, 5:00am, baby with me…”

“Took Jeremiah for a hike, back for breakfast…”

“Checking fences, 6:30am”

“Trail ride. Jeremiah’s with me.”

Babywearing Life Less Loaded 5Through forests and across lakes, on horseback and at the kitchen sink, while nursing, cleaning, and conversing, in the company of mop, dog, or guest, my baby boy has been tucked in closely with those who love him. Beginning with a beautiful sling (presented as a gift from Jeremy after delivery), and currently with the oh-so-hardy Ergo, Jeremiah has been bundled, strapped, snuggled, and packed. On my back or his Papa’s, he knows he is safely stowed. Sleeping, observing, feeding, or simply soaking up whatever activity at hand, he is able to participate within the community of his family and with his world first-hand.

Babywearing Life Less Loaded 6For many families, baby-wearing may be a pre-birth decision or a personal preference. For us, it has become a beautiful constant within our way of life. As a woman, and as a mama desiring to pursue natural parenting, I know this: Wearing my baby has introduced a freedom, strength, and unity to my life and family that was entirely unexpected and completely unplanned. There is a beautiful centeredness in the snuffling snore of my son dozing against my chest as I wander down our lane. There is a gentle respect and partnership as his Papa shares in carrying him through our journeys. There is secret warmth in the knowledge of Jeremiah nursing on the move; hidden and tucked away. There is an exhilarating strength in carrying my son’s growing frame upon my own; aware that my body continues to contribute to his.


“Baby wearing? Yes!”

Babywearing Life Less Loaded 7As we journey onward, as our families grow and change, we will carry our babies close. As they outgrow their slings and wraps and carriers, we will continue to hold them; wrapping their dreams and cries and steps next to our own, wearing their lives next to our hearts.

Why did/didn’t you choose to adopt baby-wearing in your own family? What is the greatest benefit that you have experienced? What has been the most significant challenge? I’d love to hear your experiences surrounding this topic, as well as other areas surrounding natural parenting and our shared life!

Read about the Blog to Inspire contest and read posts by the finalists and by the rest of the entrants. Forty-four bloggers reached out to inspire on the topics of cloth diapers, babywearing, breastfeeding, and natural parenting.

Tips for Getting Started Babywearing

You have a lot of choices with modern baby carriers. We have a few tips to get you started wearing your baby.

Baby Hawk mei tai baby carrier with head rest up
Choose the right carrier

Babywearing 101 on Parenting By Nature has a couple of articles that will help you:

  • “How to Choose a Baby Carrier” asks who will wear the baby carrier, how old the baby is, how and where the baby will be worn, what your budget is, and what style appeals to you.
  • Once you start to narrow down your choices, you may want more details. “Baby Carriers Compared” goes through the advantages and disadvantages of baby carriers – baby wraps, baby slings, mei tai baby carriers, and soft pack baby carriers.


Practice

You are learning a new skill. Practice to improve. It isn’t particularly difficult, but you will need to practice if you want putting your baby into a carrier to become second nature. Better yet, have a someone help you to ensure correct positioning and to spot you and baby. Best of all, have an experienced baby wearer teach you how to use your new carrier. The, keep practicing.

Work over a soft surface like a bed or couch.

The closer the baby is to you, the more comfortable she will be. At the beginning, while you are both learning, keep her center of gravity close to yours. Start facing one another rather than with baby on your chest or back facing outward with arms and legs wagging. Learn how to balance with your baby close, then practice a variety of carrying positions.


Keep Baby Happy

Unless you are starting with the tiniest newborn, your baby will wonder about this new experience of being worn. Keep your baby happy while you practice. Start practice after a nap and feeding when your baby is happiest.

Stay calm. A baby will feel the stress of a parent, so remain calm while you figure things out. If it isn’t working this time, come back later.

When you get the baby in the carrier, focus on the baby and celebrate. Use big bouncy movements to get their attention. Tell them, “This is different! This is good.” The big movements and bouncing can calm some babies when they are upset.


Stay Safe

Most important of all is keep your baby safe while you learn to babywearing.

Make sure a newborn’s airway is open, with 1-2 fingers’ width between chin and neck. Don’t let the baby roll up in a ball. Also, keep a newborn’s neck supported.

Put the weight on your low to mid-back rather than up high. Generally, keep the baby about where your bra strap is (or would be!). This lower position is easier on your back than a higher position.

Make sure the carrier supports the baby knee to knee with weight on the thighs, as opposed to hanging with their full weight on their crotch.

Read Babywearing 101 for more babywearing tips.