Time to clean up!
In celebration of International Babywearing Week I’d like to share my babywearing journey with you.
In 2004 I spent 6 weeks in Ghana for a study abroad program and it was during this visit that I was introduced to babywearing. While I was exposed to images of Africans wearing their children through photos and documentaries, I had never witnessed it first hand nor did I have a name to call it. It was during this trip that I also had a baby tied to my back for no more than about 5 minutes. I never really thought much about it to be honest. It was just an amazing experience during a trip to a village in Africa.
Then in 2007 I joined the Peace Corps, an experience that changed my life. I was placed in Botswana AND I feel in love with my life. During my time there I worked with The King’s Foundation that used sports to develop children. Every Saturday we went to a field, played a few organized games, the fed the children, a great way to start just about every weekend. It was during these outings that I REALLY became Comfortable with babywearing.
There was a set of twins about 7/8yrs old who would come with an infant tied to their back. I would take the baby so they could play. For the first few weeks the twins would stay very close to me and keep an eye on “their baby”. Once I gained their trust and they saw me struggling to pick things up and put them away they tied the baby to my back. I was NOT comfortable at first; I would walk around bent over and holding on to the baby with at least one hand. They would laugh but do it every weekend until I was comfortable and they showed me how to do it myself. I was amazed at how little that baby crow and how little stress was put on my back. AND I was able to do just about everything but run. I got to a point where I could even serve the other children with “my baby” (as the twins began to call him) tied on my back.
A couple months later I was introduced to a hip carry by my friend (who’s now my auntie in law😉). Again at first I wasn’t comfortable AT ALL but I got used to it after a while. Still amazed at how little stress was put on the body and how much I was able to get done, I vowed to wear MY baby when the time came.
Fast forward a couple of years (2010), I’m back in the US, and I’m now pregnant and I stumble on Metro Minis, through twitter, which has babywearing classes. I wrote
home to Botswana and told my in-laws about the class. It was kind of funny for them that there was an actual class for something that was so natural for them. The class was great, my hubby and I got to try a few carriers, woven, stretchy, structured you name. I didn’t realize there were so much research and so many benefits for both the baby and the caregiver until I took this class. I walked a way with a new carrier, loads of information and motived to share with the rest of my family.
For the first nine months or so I carried my little one in a woven Girasol Wrap. He was very warm and cozy through many football games, train rides between Brooklyn and Newark and we made it through the holiday madness without too many people trying to grab at him. The wrap allowed me to keep both of warm through the winter months as well. One of my favorite parts of wearing him was being able to quickly nurse him no matter where we were. We never had to fight with a stroller, he cried very little if at all (I don’t remember getting more than a whimper), and he was able to see people eye to eye instead of looking from down below. It was very easy for me to get house work done too. I would vacuum, do laundry and wash dishes with him on my chest or my back. Wearing him helped me learn his cues for when he had to go to the bathroom also (he started pooping in the potty when he was about 1 month old). Oh and I can’t forget the exercises I was able to do. We walked and did squats and lunges. We even completed a breast cancer walk with him wrapped right on my chest.
When he started sitting up a little more and crawling I purchased a Maya Wrap (ring sling) and that has been very helpful since he likes to get up and down a lot more now. I’ve still been able to nurse on the go. He likes to help me grab and bag things at the grocery store too while he’s in the sling. The nice thing about the Maya is it pocket. I can toss a diaper, wipes and a little cash in there and leave my bags in the car if I need to.
Yesterday, I won a Britax soft structured carrier and we used that for our bus ride to daycare this morning. That was pretty comfy and cozy now that it’s a little cool outside. I think I’ll wear this one for a little while before investing in a soft structured carrier that will allow me to carry him on my back. I was able to try a Kinder Carry from one of the mom’s at the Babywearers of Northern NJ event yesterday and I think I liked that one, but we’ll see.
All of this babywearing in my neighborhood, where it is not as common, has allowed me to spark up some great conversations about the benefits of wearing your baby. It has been very motivating for me to bring these options to more moms in urban areas who are not always exposed to alternative options when it comes to caring for your child. I also love how supportive my family has been as I explore the world of parenting and learn from them and teach them a few things too. My sistercousin is now convinced that wearing her baby is a must when the time comes. YAY! So far, I’m loving this babywearing journey and so happy I get to share this experience with others. I hope this post inspires someone else to try something new or even just ask a question.
Thanks for visiting Learning Life.
Wear your baby…it’s a great experience!
With my brother at the 2011 ING NYC Marathon (That inspired me to run this year!!)