Babywearing, or carrying baby around in a sling or other body carrier, is a childcare technique that goes back through the ages. Recently it has been gaining new popularity with some groups of parents. But does it work?
- Better for baby – babies cry much less when held and carried
- Saves Time – mama can hold baby and wash the dishes, or attend to the toddler, or make dinner
- Saves Space – baby carriers are generally much smaller and easier to use and store than strollers
- Better for you — you stay close to babe so you can anticipate needs, and get a workout at the same time!
- Better for the Earth – peaceful babies make for a better world (am I stretching it here?)
- Strangers tend to not touch baby when he is strapped to your body
- Can discreetly breastfeed on the go (full disclosure – I never quite figured out how to do this, but have many friends who have)
- Carriers can be expensive
- Potential for a sore back – Little babies grow into 30 lb toddlers who still want to be toted around
- Hard to wear baby and carry a diaper bag
My first babe was a really peaceful, happy little guy. As long as his tummy was full, he was content to lay in his basket, or sit in his baby bouncy seat and watch the world go by. I had a front pouch sling that I used to carry him when I went out, mostly for my convenience. I also liked keeping him close to my body, because it prevents those well-meaning strangers from swooping in for an unwelcome touch.
When he was around 6 months old I upgraded to the ERGObaby Carrier. While pricey (I paid $110 for mine on Ebay), I liked the versatility of the Ergo. Baby can be worn on front, side, or back, from infant to 45 lbs. I used this carrier to carry my baby boy on my back mostly for outdoor activities like hiking.
I didn’t really become a committed baby-wearer until my second babe arrived. This little girl was also happy – as long as she was being held. For the first 7 weeks of her life we didn’t put her down. She insisted on being carried all. the. time. I was so grateful for my pouch sling and my Ergo (with infant insert) during this time. I was able to keep her happily snuggled against my chest, but still do all the things that needed to be done: taking the toddler on walks, grocery shopping, cooking, cleaning, etc.
As she grew into an older baby, she preferred being carried on my hip, which got tiring and left me with only one free hand. The Ergo came to the rescue again, as it can be adjusted for a hip carry. It was great to have my hands free, but still have her up with me on eye level to see everything I was doing.
Today, as a 28 lb toddler, she still is a cuddly little girl who prefers being carried when she needs a break from her running-around toddler busyness. She’s too heavy to carry in any other way than on my back, but once again the Ergo steps up to do the job. Every day when I come home from work, she pulls the carrier out of the closet and brings it to me. She usually spends about an hour on my back while I make dinner and do other little after work chores. I consider this my work-out for each day, and have no guilt that I don’t have time for a “real” workout program.
Overall, baby wearing has worked really well for my family. It allows us to keep fussy babies feeling better, and also to easily transport babies to places where taking a stroller would be complicated. I’ve practiced baby-wearing while walking, hiking, dancing and cooking. I’ve worn babes at the beach, on mountains, at “grown-up” parties, at the Pentagon, and on vacations all over the country. Baby-wearing keeps my baby happier, keeps my toddler happier, and makes me happy too!
Links to some of the most popular styles of baby carriers:
Do you wear your babies? What’s your favorite style of carrier?