Changes to the family structure, no matter how much joy they bring to it, sometimes take a little time to adjust to. Jay is now 8 months old, and I believe that we are in our groove…for now! One of the most interesting things about having a second child is seeing how different the personality of babies can be despite coming from the same parents.
From day one it was clear to see that raising Jay would be different than raising Maya. One isn’t/wasn’t easier than the other, but just different. Maya was a sling baby. She loved being carried around in her sling. If she could have stayed in there from the time she woke up in the morning, to the time she went down in her crib in the evening, she would have been content.
I first looked into slings and wraps when I was pregnant with Maya. The concept of ‘babywearing’ fascinated me. Not only did it seem like a great way to travel from one home in Canada, to the next home in Turks and Caicos Islands, but there was something about the contentment that I saw when babies were snuggled with their moms or dads in their slings. So at the time, having a lot of time on my hands, I read, I researched, I tried, and I finally settled on a wrap for the unborn Robinson.
When Maya was about two weeks old, I tried her sling for the first time. I was extremely nervous about putting this new born in cloth. I was so happy that it came pre-threaded and thought to myself that I may have a serious problem when it needed to be washed and I needed to put it together again. Once I got over the initial nervousness of having my baby strapped to me, we both relaxed. Maya spent the entire morning in her wrap and I adjusted her every time she was ready to be fed. Not only did the wrap provide her with that closeness of feeling likes she was still in the womb, it provided me with the ability to use my arms again, and a discreet way of nursing as new and nervous mom.
Fast forward almost 5 years and after sharing the sling with a friend, the sling has returned and I decide to test it out with the newest little Robinson. Ohhhh, no…he was not having it! After a few days of wondering how could Jay not like the sling, it occurred to me, that perhaps he just didn’t like facing me. Sure enough, the minute I put him facing the ‘outside world’ and he could see everything, he was very happy. Now that he is a little older I wear him just above my hip with his legs hanging out so that he can kick around as much as he would like.
Despite my children both having different initial reactions to being carried in baby slings, it has been clear with both of them that the benefits of babywearing are many. When we are out, the sling provides a great avenue for discrete feeding. This is very helpful when travelling. Not only is your baby snuggled into you, hopefully avoiding airport and other travel germs, but if you are a feed on demand mom, it allows you to help them remain content…which makes them better little travellers.
When a baby is in a sling, they are in a state of ‘Quiet Alertness.’ This is likely my favorite part of babywearing. They are so calm, but yet so alert, that they do a tremendous amount of learning. They see their environment through the eyes of their caregiver. Whether indoors or outdoors they are learning how their caregiver interacts with the environment and are taking it all in. In addition to observing and interacting more with their environment, they are also interacting more with you as the caregiver. Being on the same visual plane as your baby allows them to have their favorite thing to look at right next to them…your face! The human face is the biggest stimulator of bonding and development of interpersonal skills. When your baby is in a sling, they have front row seats to your subtle facial expressions, your tone, your emotions, your scents and essentially your entire rhythm.
Baby wearing isn’t a new concept. Although it may have developed popularity in the last few decades in the industrialized world, it has been practiced for centuries around the world. A big reason for its popularity has been the increased awareness of attachment parenting. In addition to the quiet alertness that infants experience when carried, there are also gains to the mother. It isn’t uncommon to find moms feelings strain in their arms and backs from holding their babies and a sling helps you to reduce some of this strain.
So whether your motivation is bonding with your child, or having your hands free, there are many benefits to babywearing and I encourage you to try it!