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.
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.