“the action or practice of carrying a baby close against one's body in a sling or similar carrier”
Sitting at my office desk, a few months out from becoming a first time mum, I began prolifically googling everything a new mother might need. I made list after list, poured through parenting forums and articles trying to work out what kind of parent I wanted to be. We bought the fancy Boori Sleigh Cot and the pricy Bugaboo pram but another little thing caught my eye, it was a baby sling. Now, knowing nothing about babies or slings, this was a pretty uneducated purchase, but that glossy picture of a handsome daddy wearing his adorable baby sucked me in. It was marketing at its finest.
Fast forward a few months and our precious baby girl had arrived. I eagerly tried her in the sling that first day we got home and it was a disaster. She was too small and I just couldn’t get that stretchy fabric tight enough to hold her close. She was crying, I was frustrated and this experience I had built up in my head just wasn’t there. I waited a couple of weeks and I tried it on hubby next. I did actually get a picture of this attempt and trust me, it was so far from that glossy picture that all I could think was 'nailed it'. Sigh. Defeated, I threw the sling in the linen cupboard and gave up.
During my pregnancy I had joined an online mother’s group, a lot of us were first time parents but thankfully others were more seasoned and we quickly formed an incredibly useful hive mind of mum knowledge (with lots of support, laughter and occasional exhortations to send wine thrown in). Through their support and encouragement I decided to purchase my first woven wrap, a ring sling when my baby girl was 10 months old. One of my new mumma friends shared a video of her wrapping her little boy in a ring sling and I used this like a gospel. I practiced and I perfected and I was finally comfortably wearing my baby girl and it felt amazing. I had caught the babywearing bug and I was off!
Four years later I have baby number three and I’m still on the babywearing train. Many, many wraps and soft structured carriers later, and I’m the poster mum for the meme, “If I die, please tell my husband how much my baby carriers are really worth”. For me, babywearing is so many things. Sure, it helps me do school drop off, run errands, clean the house, prepare dinner etc. etc. etc., but it also allows me to spend some special time bonding with baby number three while I busily parent kids one and two. I love the closeness, being able to pat his little bottom in the carrier, smell his hair and shower him with kisses. I actually babywear so much, that the expensive Bugaboo pram is gathering dust in the garage. It does come out from time to time for trips to the zoo or our recent overseas holiday, but mostly I wear my littlest love whenever I can.
It doesn’t matter what type of parenting style you adopt – attachment, free range, helicopter or hot mess mum, babywearing is for everyone! The hardest thing for me to see as an avid babywearer and trained babywearing consultant is babies or children worn incorrectly or unsafely. So, how do you know you are using your own carrier or wrap safely and in the most comfortable and ergonomic fashion? First, try and find your local babywearing group on Facebook. Have a search of your area, there are so many Australia wide. There is the large Australia wide group BWBSS Aussie Babywearing Support or there are your smaller, more local groups such as Adelaide Babywearers, Babywearers WA, South Eastern Babywearing, Central Coast Babywearers, Mornington Peninsula Babywearers (the list goes on). These groups are full of members with a wealth of knowledge, they also organise local meet ups and may even have carriers you can borrow.
If the babywearing bug bites hard, you may want to seek professional advice to refine your technique and get you and bub as comfy in your carrier as possible. It's also an indisputable fact of babywearing that the more you learn about your first carrier, the more you want to improve on it with your next (and the one after that, and the one after that...). My family run business, The Infant Boutique, specialises in matching our wide range of on trend carriers and wraps to each individual family. Located in Norwood, South Australia, we have demonstration models of our carriers available for you to try on and we fit your chosen carrier exactly so you and your baby leave feeling happy and confident in your wearing ability. As a trained babywearing consultant I am also qualified to advise on wearing newborns, reflux babies and children with special needs, plus handy techniques such as back carrying and breastfeeding in your carrier.
A baby being worn is a baby who is being loved, comforted, socialised and sometimes even fed! I have never, ever heard a parent say 'I hugged that baby too much', and babywearing is pretty much one big cuddle. What's not to like?
Find out more about The Infant Boutique here