Why I wear my baby. (Article originally written for Godalming & Cranleigh NCT Newsletter)
(First published on 6th December 2015)
Why I Wear My Baby
I could write an entire thesis on the benefits of babywearing. Well, I’d have enough material for a one, anyway. Both the baby and the wearer have so much to gain from the closeness that it’s a virtually inexhaustible list of benefits. From helping parents to read their baby’s cues to regulating the baby’s heart rate and temperature. From reducing Post Natal Depression to helping deal with colic. So in the interests of brevity, I thought I would concentrate on the benefits that I have appreciated since my third child Emilia was born in August.
The simplest is practicality. I have two older children, aged four and nine. They’re both pretty demanding in their own different ways and both require a degree of one-to-one attention, particularly since introducing a tiny baby into their otherwise ordered world. Having the baby asleep on my front (or awake and dribbling into my bra) enables me to play with my four year old and help my eldest with his homework without having to wait for Emilia to settle in a crib or carry-cot.
Feeding is another definite benefit. I can breastfeed on the go, like some sort of multi-tasking, maternal action-hero. We went to a theme park last week and I was able to discretely whip out a boob and lower Emilia’s carrier so that she could reach. Nobody could see what I was doing and by keeping one hand on her I could gently ensure that her head was correctly positioned without any danger of her breathing being restricted. Do always ensure that you’re completely aware of them and their access to fresh air whilst breastfeeding in a sling! Bottle feeding is equally simple. There’s no need to stop what you’re doing and your arms don’t go dead from trying to carry your baby one handed. Of course there’s nothing like having ten minutes quiet to feed your baby and gaze lovingly into their eyes as they slurp their milk. But when you have two older kids desperate for rollercoasters and all of the benches are soaked with rain, feeding on the move is suddenly a much more appealing option.
I’m going to London next weekend with my eldest and the baby. Have you ever tried to get around London with a pram? Admittedly some tube stations are well equipped for them. There’s lifts and ramps and all sorts of aids to accessibility. However, others have endless miles(ish) of beautifully tiled Victorian steps or escalators that seem to go on forever. Now, I can’t say I fancy getting a pram up and down those with only an over-tired nine year old for assistance. Don’t get me wrong, I own a buggy, I’m no evangelical sling-snob. It will get more use once Emilia is bigger and the occasion calls for it. I think they have their place, I really do. City centres are not that place, unless you happen to be an Olympic shot-putter or you are really keen on making your day a bit more challenging.
The most rewarding reason for babywearing is the closeness. It’s one of my favourite things in the world and does make me bewildered that more people don’t see the glaringly obvious benefits of that. I get cuddles wherever I go and whatever I do. I get cuddles when I’m folding the washing. When I’m picking my kids up from school. Even when I pop to the loo. (If this horrifies you then you clearly don’t have a toddler. Just you wait…). I get my tiny baby curled up on my chest all day if I choose, and it doesn’t mean a day of being trapped on the sofa. When she has growth spurts I can keep her wrapped in the proximity of my breast so that I can latch her on whenever she needs it. The closeness helps my milk supply as well. Isn’t that clever? All that chest to chest stimulation keeps my boobs ticking over beautifully with milk. After her vaccinations I can keep her on me for as long as she needs. I can (and did!) strip us both and wrap her against me to maintain skin-to-skin contact. This in turn helps to regulate
And finally… I must admit that I’m a bit of a sucker for the pretty designs and tactile fabrics. I also love that there’s stunning carriers for every budget. You can get gorgeous, inexpensive quality carriers for bargain prices (£20.00+) or you can splash out as much as you might on a second-hand car on something exquisite woven from unicorn tail and a fairy’s armpit hair. I have a collection of carriers and can’t part with any of them as each one is now permeated with cuddles that I’ve had with my babies. Pop along to your local sling library and try some out!