Babywearing

Babywearing!

We are an exclusive babywearing family. That means that we do not own a pram. My husband and I always wear Tulip in a sling or carrier when we go out. During pregnancy I went back and forth about if we should get a pram or not. I had done a lot of research about the benefits of baby wearing for both baby and parent and loved the idea of babywearing.  The following is a really good chart about the benefits of babywearing courtesy of SnugiWraps (we own one of their wraps but I’ll get to that later!).

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Friends tried to convince me that I would need a pram for some things, even if I did want to mostly babywear. I didn’t see the point in spending all that money on something that I wasn’t planning on using much. I didn’t know anyone who didn’t have a pram but I’d seen people on online forums who didn’t. Some who decided from the beginning they didn’t want one and some who had bought one and said that they had barely used it so it was a waste of money. Reading about these people showed me a pram-less life could work so we decided to go pram-free!

I do feel like I’m being watched and whispered about everywhere I go, I was worried people were thinking what I was doing was not a good idea or was unsafe. Maybe some people don’t agree with babywearing due to lack of knowledge. But then I started hearing some of the comments. I heard one lady say “that’s really good for the baby because they can hear the mum’s heartbeat”. I now love when I pass a child with their parent and either the child points to Tulip and says “look a baby!” or the parent points the baby out to their child. There’s no judgements there, they’re just pointing out a cute little baby!

I do get some negative comments about babywearing though. A couple people have said directly to me “what if you trip and fall?”. I have also seen numerous people online saying this and saying that babywearing is dangerous. Here’s what I would like to say to those people:

1. How often do you actually trip and fall?
2. If I did trip and fall, I’ve got both hands free to catch myself and protect my baby.
3. I often see people carrying their baby and pushing the pram because their baby doesn’t want to be in the pram, how is that better than my hands free carrying? They would probably struggle more if they tripped and fell.
4. I’ve heard of 2 people lately who fell when they were pushing a pram and the babies fell out of the pram. I’m not saying prams are dangerous, I’m just saying they don’t make you immune from tripping and falling.

Babywearing is not dangerous!

It is however very important you follow the TICKS rules for babywearing and follow the instructions that come with your carrier.

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Another very common misconception is that the baby will end up very clingy and will always want to be held by you. So many people are told they shouldn’t carry their babies too much as they are spoiling their baby with cuddles. First of all, it’s impossible to spoil a baby, especially with cuddles. I don’t want to go too off topic but if you’re interested, look up the “fourth trimester” (so named as it’s the period of time after the 3 trimesters of pregnancy), I find it all very interesting. Here is a good infographic about babywearing benefits:

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I’ve found so much of this to be true!
The hands free aspect of it is great! As anyone with a baby will know, sometimes they just want to be cuddled. Rather than being stuck to the sofa (which I have to admit can sometimes be nice), I’ve managed to do dishes and laundry while babywearing as well as clean the bathroom and do the hoovering! And write this blog!

As for the crying, I obviously don’t have anything to compare it to but I do feel Tulip cries a minimal amount. I’m not going to claim she never cries (although the first 2 or so weeks of her life she honestly didn’t cry!) she still occasionally even has a meltdown where nothing seems to calm her. But babywearing mostly calms her. So many people (strangers and friends alike) have commented what a chilled out baby Tulip is so they are obviously comparing her to other babies they’ve known who cry more, leading me to believe the crying statistics above are correct. It is extremely rare for Tulip to cry in the night. She goes down to bed easily and quickly, wakes up just once a night most nights for a feed, then goes straight back to sleep, no crying.

As for breastfeeding, it has been very successful for me so the breastfeeding statistic could be correct. I think it’s down to babywearing and my determination to breastfeed (as well educating myself about breastfeeding, making sure I had support around me and knowing where to get professional support if needed).

The point about improving mine and Tulip’s core muscles and posture definitely seems to be correct! Babywearing forces me to stand up straight, it’s practically impossible to slouch when babywearing! As for Tulip, she is very strong! At three months old she can hold her head up very well and lift it up quite high during tummy time (an essential activity for your baby from birth to support core muscle development). Her legs are also very strong, she is able to push herself up to standing when I put her on my lap and hold on to her arms.

Research has shown that far from being clingy, babywearing supports secure attachment. It shows the baby you will always be there for them and therefore makes them independent as they feel confident they can walk away from you a bit and you’ll still be there when they want to come back. And for those who think babywearing means the baby won’t learn how to walk because they’re always being carried, babywearers still put their babies down. They aren’t in carriers much more than other babies are in prams.

Moving on to another common comment I get: “well eventually you’ll need a pram, she’ll get too big to carry”. Nope. I plan on never having a pram. There are carriers that make this possible. People make this comment because when they imagine carrying around a one or two year old (or even a baby Tulip sized) all day, they think of how heavy the baby/child would get. Yes, if you carried any sized baby around all day in arms, it would get tiring and heavy and no I wouldn’t be able to do that. But carrying a baby in a carrier versus in arms is very different. The carrier spreads out the weight of the baby and can actually be quite comfortable if worn correctly! So no, I don’t NEED a pram.

“But where do you put all your things?!” This is a question I sometimes get and something you may even be thinking now. Well, simply, I put my things in a backpack which I carry on my back. And a follow on question I often get “what about when you go shopping, where do you put your bags?”. First of all, I don’t go shopping that often and rarely by myself. Second of all, babywearing leaves me with the same number of hands I had before I had a baby, so I can carry my shopping just as you do when you’re child free and don’t have your pram.

My husband was and is fully on board with exclusive babywearing. However, he gets some strange reactions. At least two people have said to him “I hope there’s a baby in there” when he’s wearing our daughter. We can see this is meant to be a joke but we don’t quite understand it or why it’s meant to be funny. If anyone is able to explain it, that would be great! I don’t get comments like that when I’m wearing Tulip. Apparently it’s more acceptable for a mum to babywear than a dad. Babywearing is a great bonding experience for dads too! It’s a shame I hear so many people say their husbands say it’s not for them. I love seeing a babywearing dad.

As confused as people can sometimes get when I say I don’t have a pram, they usually accept it and have a few questions about it which is fine, I love sharing my knowledge! I did have a funny reaction the other day though. Another mum at a baby group we were at was talking about how she’d bought a pram on a facebook group for £35. When she found out I didn’t have a pram she said “oh you should look on facebook, there’s loads of cheap ones on there!” To which I simply replied “oh, no I don’t want a pram”. Did she think I only didn’t have one because I couldn’t afford one? Or I just hadn’t got around to getting one yet? Sometimes I do feel like people just get prams because that’s the done thing and I do wish they’d consider there are other options.

Another baby show story, this one not as good an experience as the cloth nappies and wipes. We were looking at carseats and went to ask a lady on one of the stands about them. She was telling us about the different types. We were originally thinking of getting one of the ones that go from birth up to about 4 years old. These are not ones you can take out of the car and carry the baby around in. So this woman said “the problem with those is you can’t carry the baby around”. I said “I don’t want to carry the baby around in it”. This was when she first looked at us like we were a bit crazy. She then went on to say “have you decided what pram you’re getting?” (I’d love to see a day when it’s not assumed you’re getting a pram). When I said “we’re not getting a pram, we’re going to carry the baby in a sling” she looked down on us and said in a very patronising tone “Oh. Well won’t you be fit then”. She made us feel like she thought we were completely crazy and not doing the best for our baby and family. We walked away and immediately decided not to buy from them. I will not name and shame the company as it is a very popular company and this was only one lady, I’m sure she doesn’t reflect the views of the whole company. However, this experience led us to not choose a carseat from them. We went with a Joie carseat in the end. The main reason for this was the man we spoke to on their stand at the baby show was very nice. He gave us all the facts with no judgements. It just goes to show that customer service means everything! We did end up going for the smaller carseat that you can carry. The reason for this being I realised there would be some places I’d go where I’d need to carry Tulip in in the carseat such as a doctor or dentist appointment that was for me and I couldn’t wear her during. I really don’t like carrying the carseat out of the car though. It’s so heavy and doesn’t distribute the weight at all. I really don’t understand why so many people do it just to go into a baby group or something. I find it so much easier to just pick the baby up out of the car and carry them in!

On the subject of car seats, we did have a friend say to us “you do have a carseat though right? So you can go other places?”. This was when we were walking from our flat to a pub. I guess they thought maybe we were so obsessed with babywearing we were actually going to limit ourselves to only go places that were in walking distance to our flat? But as stated above, yes we do have a carseat!

I often think about the attachment parenting family in the film “Away We Go”. If you haven’t seen or heard of the film, it’s about a couple who are pregnant with their first baby and travel around visiting friends and family who already have children. The couple bring their friends a pushchair as a gift. The friends look on in horror at it.

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The mum says “I LOVE my babies, why would I want to PUSH them away from me”. I have to admit I do feel a bit like this now that I’m a babywearing mum! I love cuddling my daughter and love that I don’t have to stop just because we’re going for a walk or out somewhere, I love to have her close and she loves it too. (I’m not saying you don’t love your baby if you have a pram, of course you do!) I don’t really like how this family is depicted in the film though. They are clearly being poked fun at for babywearing, baby/child led breastfeeding and co-sleeping (which is safe if done correctly). If these things weren’t shown like this in the media (like these families are completely crazy) there would be more acceptance. It’s unfortunate how much the media has an effect on people’s opinions but it is a reality. I’d love to see a film where families do these things and aren’t shown as crazy but normal.

I forsee lots of people telling me I’ll need a pram when I have a second baby. However, I do plan on tandem babywearing. Watch this space for a (far in the) future blog post about tandem babywearing…

I’ve seen different opinions on babywearing with your baby facing out from you. I see so many people do it and I guess I can see why they think it’s a good idea. However the below infographic by Boba Carriers made sense to me and it’s why I’ll never carry my children outward facing.

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As you have probably gathered, I am very passionate about babywearing! Again, I am not judging anyone for having a pram or saying I’m doing things right and they’re doing things wrong. I just aim to educate people more about the facts of babywearing because there do seem to be a lot of misconceptions. I’d love there to be a day where there isn’t a look of shock when someone says they don’t own a pram but instead it’s seen as a legitimate parenting option. It doesn’t have to be all or nothing though, if you want to babywear sometimes and use a pram sometimes that’s fine. I just urge you to educate yourself about babywearing and not just buy a random high street carrier. Sling libraries are a great place to learn about the different types of carriers and try before you buy. You could even go when you’re still pregnant just to talk to an expert about the different types. There are also some online shops which will post you slings to rent if you can’t make it to a sling library or there isn’t one near you.  I haven’t tried one of the online places yet so I am reluctant to recommend one but if you google it you will find one!

I did intend to talk about the different types of carriers we use in this post but I think it has got far too long now so I will save that for another time! Plus I am in the process of thinking about buying a couple more so that post will be better once I have those too.

Happy babywearing!

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