The Art of Babywearing

Throughout the ages, women have worn their babies on their front, back, or hips, using a large variety of slings and carriers, using resources at hand, from woolen shawls to beaded leather. I wish I’d known how to “wear” my babies back when my first son was born. He was a miserable, colicky wretch, and very quickly the constant screaming transformed me into a miserable, unstable wreck. I couldn’t put him down, but I couldn’t get anything done with him in my arms. He wouldn’t nap during the day, and apparently found lying down or reclining in a swing uncomfortable. He screamed, and screamed, and screamed.

It wasn’t until after he was over the colic and well on his way to adorable toddler hood that I started learning about babywearing, and all its benefits. I immediately sewed a simple pouch sling, and from then on, he rode on my hip whenever we went out. Although that sling is now 3 years old and is made of simple poly-cotton, it is still in great shape after carrying two big babies. While I was pregnant with my second baby, I researched the subject of babywearing even more, and was astounded at the wealth of information and resources available. There are free patterns, wearing instructions, and many, many small businesses selling customized baby carriers of all shapes, sizes and patterns. There are African-inspired carriers, Asian-inspired carriers, stretchy wrap slings, complicated strappy slings, brand-name carriers (think Bjorn and Ergo), and simple no-sew slings.

When my second baby was in his early months, he went everywhere in the pouch sling. As a newborn, he was tucked in there and slept a lot. Once he could sit up, he liked to be carried in the “Buddha carry”, facing outward with his little legs folded up in front of him. Before he outgrew the pouch, I was also able to carry him on my back occasionally. My absolute favorite carrier right now is the Frankenkozy, a cross between the Kozy carrier brand and the Chinese mei-tei. The Frankenkozy has been a lifesaver for me, during those times when my second son just needed to be close to me, but I needed my hands free. Wearing him on my front has been cozy for hiking and visiting the zoo, but mastering the art of wearing him on my back has been what really freed me up to do what needs to be done. With both arms free, I can sweep, mop, wash dishes, do laundry, make beds, and just about anything else, all while chatting with my little boy and giving him the physical connection to me that he needs. The wide, pleated straps of the Frankenkozy distribute weight evenly, so that even carrying a heavy baby (like me 30 lb. 14 month old) isn’t a strain on the back. There is a learning curve, especially with getting the baby on your back when you’re alone, but one soon gets used to the length of fabric and wrapping up goes quickly and easily.

Now that I’ve figured out the benefits of babywearing, I tell every mom I know about it, and make slings/carriers as baby shower gifts. If it weren’t for my baby carriers, I would be much more stressed out, my house would be a mess, my arms would be sore, and my babies would be missing out on a great opportunity for mommy time! If you’ve got a baby, this is not a subject you want to put off learning about any longer. Check out the links provided and start wearing that baby!

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