Babywearing is fairly new to me. My oldest didn’t like being “worn.” We used the Baby K’tan when he was smaller, which was invaluable at times that he was fussy or clingy and I needed to get stuff done. But once he got bigger the K’tan got uncomfortable and my other carrier (Beco Gemini) I just couldn’t get the hand of and it wasn’t super comfy anyhow, and by then my son was crawling then soon after walking so he wasn’t much interested in being worn anyhow.
Once I found out I was pregnant with my second, and my oldest was just over 1, I thought babywearing might be more useful so I joined some babywearing groups on Facebook. I learned just HOW MANY different kinds of carriers there really are. After standing back and observing, reading and researching, I decided to try a couple new carriers – a woven wrap and ring sling. The ring sling even got used a couple of times while out with my toddler when he wanted to be held at the store and I couldn’t shop just holding him on my hip.
Once my new baby was born, I immediately dove into babywearing. I tried my wrap, which the go-to carry everyone says the front wrap cross carry (FWCC) just made me too hot and I really forgot to even try other carries and just set it down and used my K’tan. But once he got bigger I tried some other carries based on suggestions from the babywearing groups, and that was it, I was hooked. The wrap was SO comfy and SO versatile, that I really became a more hard core babywearer.
Then I got hooked … BUY ALL THE WRAPS! WEAR ALL THE BABIES! I was getting pulled deeper and deeper into the babywearing world. I got more wraps and ring slings, and even decided to try a Tula because I’d heard good things about them.
As I got deeper into this “world” and joined more Facebook groups, and talked to my friends more about it, I realized there was a particular sector of babywearers – probably the most hard core and extreme babywearers – that sort of turn people off to babywearing, with their judgments, obsessions and intrusions. In talking amongst my friends, we agreed that this small group of babywearers does quite a bit of damage to the reputation of babywearing.
While I’m sure they’re good intentioned, they’re just not helping their cause. I know when I initially looked into different carriers after my first son, I was actually turned off from it for a while when I saw some of the things they said and things that went on. So I compiled a list of the 6 things that these hard core babywearers do that actually turn moms off from babywearing –
- Sanctimonious judgments – I actually saw someone say the other day in one of these groups, “I feel sorry for a baby I see in a stroller or car seat.” Um, excuse me what? You’re sorry for my baby who is happily sitting by himself in his stroller with me right there? WTF is wrong with you. And I’ve seen similar sentiments before in these groups. Yeah it might seem harmless because they’re not saying it outloud in public, but on a private Facebook group, these groups have THOUSANDS of members and there are many new moms watching and observing like I was trying to see what it’s all about. And that statement, right there, if I was a new mom, would make me buy a stroller in a heartbeat. I’m a member of stroller groups on Facebook too. They never judge babywearing like that. It’s not all or nothing. You can babywear and you can use strollers. They have different purposes at different times.
- Guilt tripping – I recently asked a question in one of the groups worried I may be creating a habit of my baby falling asleep for naps being worn. Some of the comments I got annoyingly tried to make me feel guilty. “You won’t be wearing your baby in college, how could you not want to hold your baby?” How could I not want to hold my baby? Because I do it constantly and I’m an oven, he’s an oven, and we both like our own personal space every now and again. I don’t think it makes me a bad mom to want to put him down from time to time and have some time and space to myself. And I’ve seen similar comments before, equally as guilt trippy. They don’t help.
- Tula moms “cult” – There’s this whole separate group of babywearing moms – the Tula moms. They LOVE their freakin Tulas and that’s almost an understatement. There’s not another hard core brand advocate for the babywearing moms like the Tula moms. I have at Tula. It’s more comfy than my Ergo for sure, but a Tula isn’t a magical babywearing cape, possesses no super powers and it’s not for everyone. There are many different babywearing options – and MANY options for soft structured carriers (like Tulas). But some Tula owners seem to think everyone needs or should have a Tula. One comment I saw the other day was after a mom suggested a Tula to complete stranger (that she approached … whole nother topic, see below) – she said “You’ll thank me later.” A little presumptuous, but ok…. and speaking of Tulas …
- Tula black market – Also pretty unique to Tulas – they’re generally out of stock. Tula does “stockings” that the whole Tula loving group of course gets wind of, and they get snatched up in minutes when they do go on sale. Then shockingly, you see a lot of these same Tulas show up on the swap later on, usually at a markup. This whole stocking, out of stock, resell at a mark up makes it hard for new wearers to get a Tula if they wanted one. So Tula lovers seems to be hurting their cause a bit if they’re churning for a profit.
- Butting in – Like the Tula mom did above, babywearers are the only group that will approach strangers in public to try to give them the benefits of babywearing. “You’ll thank me later” said the Tula mom … ok, maybe I will maybe I won’t. Do stroller using moms approach strangers and try to get them to use a stroller? Imagine the horror if a breastfeeding mom walked up to a mom feeding her baby formula and tried to give that mom the benefits of breastmilk? So why do babywearing moms think it’s ok to intrude on random strangers and trying to convert them like Jehovah’s witnesses walking the neighborhood?
- Babywearing defies logic and science – Some sentiments I’ve seen suggest that some babywearing moms think babywearing defies science logic and fact at times. This is frequently in reference to flying with a baby – I’ve seen moms who thought babywearing was just as safe or safer than baby being in a car seat on a plane. Just like any parenting decision – you weigh the information and make the best decision for you and your family. I’ve worn on flights before. But I know for a fact it’s not safer. It’s a calculated risk I take. But I’ve seen babywearing moms ask about biking, kayaking, roller blading, ice skating, etc with their baby attached to them. NO. Just NO.
Now for all of these things that are said and done by a SMALL group of babywearers, there are many wonderful things that the majority of babywearers do and say daily. I just think that this small group, because they are generally more vocal, do a lot to hurt the cause and reputation of babywearing.
But the good – so much good! I’ve known and gotten help from many wonderful ladies, particularly the “Girasol Love All the Rainbows” group (because Girasol is a brand that generally produces rainbows, and if you see from my babywearing pics, it’s all I own and I love them). That group is fantastic, and helpful, and generally non-judgmental and also generally not looking to profit on the resale of their wraps in the swap. But there are many other groups that have wonderful helpful members too, that’s just the one I’ve had the best experience with personally.
Babywearing has also done so much for me. It’s allowed me to do many things that would’ve been difficult or impossible without – shopping with a fussy baby and toddler, putting a clingy baby down to sleep while keeping an eye on a toddler. And with my wraps, it’s comfy and cozy and also versatile – I can wear him on the front, on my hip and on my back in many different ways.
I’ve had people come up and ask me about my wraps and I’m happy to educate them. But I would NEVER approach a mom unsolicited to tell her about babywearing. I think calmly and easily going about my tasks while babywearing speaks greater volumes to the awesomeness of babywearing than going up to and harassing strangers like a used car salesman, particularly if the mom is already struggling and frustrated. If I’m struggling and having fussy babies, I’m already probably hot and irritable and might snap on you if you try to tell me how I could do it better. Just don’t do it, babywearers. Show them, don’t force them.
Then they can see how wonderful babywearing can truly be, without judgment and guilt trips and the like. I’m not sure there’s much cooler than knowing your baby is calmed and lulled to sleep just by being snuggled up close to you. But it’s also okay to put them down, and use strollers and car seats. Everything can be useful to some, and there is no cookie cutter one size fits all way of doing things – including babywearing.
Now if you don’t mind me, I’m going to go take my baby for a walk in his stroller … pity him. LOL.
What are the ways you’ve benefited from babywearing, or maybe not?