International Babywearing Week 2020
“Babywearing is for hippies!” was a comment I once heard, at a baby group of all places.
I had grabbed my carrier, struggled to get my baby in it, and staggered along to the group, struggling to manage everything. I never tried again after that as I found the experience exhausting. If I’m completely honest with myself, I was probably suffering from a mild form of post-natal depression, and this incident caused me to doubt my own abilities as a mother.
Prior to this, I had attempted to use a wrap. In an attempt to do way more work than any new mum should feel they had to, I thought that babywearing would enable me to be free to do things that made me feel more like the old me. That probably sounds daft, but I couldn’t envisage that, for so many people, I was now only known as my daughter’s mum, rather than the wife, teacher, daughter, Zumba enthusiast, gig-loving indie chick I was (and still am… well, apart from the wife bit anyway!). I couldn’t fathom the instructions for the wrap at all. Yes, I’m a visual learner, but the visuals need to actually make sense alongside the writing! I gave up with that after about six attempts, feeling like I’d taken part in a HIIT class.
If I’d had the support of someone like Victoria Trevor, founder of Kangaroo Together, I am certain that my experiences would have been different. I needed someone to empower me and tell me that one failure didn’t mean I couldn’t ever succeed. She offers sling hire, child-carrying workshops, bespoke consultations and, above all else, gentle, kind, thoughtful support.
International Babywearing Week 2020
28th September – 4th October 2020 marks International Babywearing Week. There are so many slings and carriers to choose from that it can be overwhelming. However, we hope that this article will at least give you food for thought, whether you are a first-time parent or expecting your second.
Contrary to the naïve hippy comment, babywearing is actually thought to have been around since the beginning of mankind. Certainly, pushchairs and prams were not invented then! The mass production of pushchairs meant that fewer people, across the world, carried their babies and its popularity diminished heavily. The first mass produced baby carrier is said to be the Snugli, invented by American Ann Moore. After desiring the same bonding experience with Mandela (her child) that she had seen countless mothers enjoy while she was serving as a Peace Corps nurse in Togo, she and her mother cooperatively sewed a pouch. While she was out and about, wearing her daughter as she went about her everyday life, people approached her to ask where they could get one. To read more about Moore’s revolutionary invention, check out UC Magazine’s article.
There are many advantages to babywearing. Here are just a few:
- Bonding with your baby is something that most people feel should come naturally. However, that isn’t always the case. PND can be damaging to relationships in some cases. Babywearing could be the answer as it will allow you a ‘fourth trimester’ with your baby. It can also help other people to bond with the baby too, such as the father. And it doesn’t have to stop when your baby gets older. Toddlers can be worn too.
- Breastfeeding can be tricky, especially if you have low levels of milk. Babywearing can help encourage an improvement in breast milk supply.
- Happiness is something that everyone strives for, but it isn’t always easy. Being so close to your child can stimulate happy hormone, Oxytocin, meaning both you and your baby will feel content.
- Household tasks can be a real challenge when your children are young. Have you ever finally got your baby to sleep and thought about how useful it would be to load or unload the dishwasher? It’s almost intuitive that your baby will wake midway through doing it. Wearing your baby could allow them to sleep close to you, giving you time to carry out jobs at the same time.
- Learning language as early as possible is essential. With your child facing you, they will see your mouth patterns and hear your language clearly (be careful what you say!). Education begins at birth, and babywearing can help so much.
- Exercise has many advantages. Simply carrying your baby means that you are lifting a weight around on a regular basis, but in a safe way that won’t damage your back or shoulders (if you are doing it properly, of course).
- Safety is something we all worry about, especially when we are out and about with our children. Carrying your child means you know that they are safe. It can be a relief, especially when you find yourself in a crowded place. It also means you can weave in and out of people much more easily.
Victoria Trevor says: “Having spent 3 months travelling around Kenya and Sri Lanka, I’d see it as a necessity not a fad.
“Babies need to be carried! Just like other babies in the wild, we are carried mammals. We are born helpless and clinging, the majority of the brain development being in the first two years of life, so, it’s vital to make the most of that period. Carrying can actually significantly change your baby’s brain connections or wiring and learning for the better.
“There is also a massive body of evidence now to say that it protects the infant’s future mental health and resilience due to Attachment and responding to your child’s needs immediately. Furthermore, it’s proven to reduce crying by up to 51% at night! Why wouldn’t you try it?
“Just try on and hire a few slings first before you jump in and buy something uncomfortable or expensive just because it’s the latest fad or has the biggest marketing budget or had been recommended. Finding a baby Carrier is like a pair of shoes…what fits one person, doesn’t necessarily mean they will fit or suit you or baby! So, let us help you find your perfect sling.”
Does it work?
The advantages sound great, don’t they? But is that really what happens when you babywear?
We asked local parents what they thought of babywearing and here are just a few of the things they shared with us.
“Babywearing was a god send for me and can’t rate it enough. My son is 7 now and I still can’t part with my carriers – my sister in law has them on loan!” Karen Bircham
“I think my baby almost lived in a stretchy wrap for the first 10weeks… school runs, dog walks, making dinner, laundry. We went on holiday to the Peak District twice and didn’t even take a pushchair.” Alice Adlam
“…brilliant for reinforcing that bonding and closeness. I also used to be able to breastfeed in mine. Great for ease of travel too. We used for a toddler and a preschooler when we travelled to London and were on and off tubes. More recently, we hired a sling for our holiday rather than taking a buggy for my toddler. It was a great way to give her independence, but that quick up when little legs got tired. It enabled us to walk over dunes and in nature reserves where a buggy would have meant we couldn’t access certain areas or certainly made it a lot harder.” Samantha Bartlett Rawlings
“Baby wearing was a godsend for me – working full time and coming home to a baby meant that I could still hold my daughter close and use a laptop at the same time in the evenings. Also getting the house work done – like hoovering or walking two dogs over the fields was possible because there was no pushchair!” Sarah Coppard
“Perfect for the airport. Especially night flights when they are sleepy. I even used my preschool buckle for my 4 1/2-year-old last month on a flight back from Croatia. Perfect for dog walks – front or back carry. Just perfect all round. Mummy carried, Daddy carried, Auntie carried – even cousin carried!” Laura Forster
“My second child lived in a sling. 1st a stretchy wrap then a woven wrap and then buckles. Really loved it and we used buckles up to about 18 months! Was a life saver with having a toddler at the time!” Jennifer Ross
“My daughter wouldn’t let me put her down at all baby wearing allowed me to have my hands free for my two year old son while still giving her the affection and closeness she wanted as often as she wanted it without feeling guilty about neglecting him!” Erin Henderson
“I run an outdoors baby group where babywearing is encouraged! We explore the Nature Reserve so babywearing gives us more flexibility while we walk (aside from all the other benefits!)” Lauren Mack
“The perfect comfort for both me and my super prem refluxy baby. Not just for mummies either… Daddy and big sis got in on the action.” Kay Stevens
“Third time Mum, first time baby wearer, babywearing enabled us to enjoy Latitude as a family.” Sophie Scott
“Babywearing has meant I have been able to take both my girls to work with me. My oldest, I carried until she was well over 3 years and I was keen to do the same with my second too. It’s great to have baby close and hands free when looking after an older child. It’s also a lot easier to carry a child round shops and on woodland walks than using a pushchair.” Karen Sidell