On a growing list of things I wish I'd known when I had my first baby, the art of babywearing ranks in the top two. I spent the first several months of my baby's life melded to a green recliner, nursing and rocking my bundle of joy, who was only joyful in my arms. Sound familiar? When baby number two arrived, I needed a new plan of attack. I purchased my first sling when he was two weeks old and never looked back.
Leann Contessa, creator of TaylorMade Slings, loves setting a new mom up with her first sling. "I feel like I just handed her back her life." Don't fret if it doesn't feel so free at first. There is a learning curve with sling wearing, but practice and patience will soon yield two free hands.
Visit the Attachment Parenting International website at www.attachmentparenting.org to find a group near you where you'll get hands-on help from proficient babywearing moms. If you are blessed with a baby who adores your company and you can't seem to get anything done, purchasing a good sling is one of the best investments you'll ever make.
Dr. Bob Sears, who coined the term "babywearing," cites a study suggesting that babies who are regularly worn in a sling cry 43% less than babies worn intermittently or not at all. Keeping baby close allows you to clue in on her cues before she ever cries. Sears also claims that babywearing creates a womblike environment. Your heartbeat and movement as you walk help your infant reorganize her natural rhythms after the disruption of birth, making for a calmer, secure baby.
Carried babies are surrounded by ever-changing stimuli in the world around them instead of staring at walls or a mobile. At eye level with mom or dad, they take in more of the world and learn to filter what they want to see. Dr. Sears also claims that "sling babies" develop a better grasp of language due to hanging out in the middle of adult conversations.
Babywearing is one of the best ways dads can be involved in baby's first months. Our third child, a dyed-in-the-wool momma's boy who settled for nothing but the real thing, calmed like a charm once daddy donned his trusty "womb."
Mom Yvette Davis advises that it takes practice to get comfortable with nursing in a sling, but it's worth it to have a hand or two free, depending on your comfort level. She adds that slings aid in discrete public nursing and says, "I liked that when she fell asleep, I could either continue to wear her in the sling or put her down in the sling. I also liked having one hand free."
On the move
After traveling extensively with her baby, Heather Cook recalls, "A sling was way better than a stroller because I had to push a luggage cart and carry her. I couldn't have pushed both the cart and the stroller. Plus, once we took off I could slip the sling on and she'd fall asleep and I'd be able to read a book, eat lunch and have a bottle of water without having to put her down since I had two free hands."
Cook also found shopping to be much easier stroller-free, especially navigating small spaces between racks.
While living overseas, Thompson found that "taking a stroller was often impractical on the crowded little mini-buses or the steep steps of the subway or in the crowded markets."
Instead, Thompson wore her son on her back and sometimes carried an umbrella stroller.
Babies are unequivocally this season's hottest accessory for hip moms. Baby carriers come in at a close second. Some carriers even make a statement worn baby less: "I had a rebozo sling and often wore it like shawl or scarf so it was always available," remarks Thompson.
There are almost as many different ways to sling wrap or tie baby on as there are chic fabrics and styles of carriers, so you are certain to find one that suits your tastes. Shop around at www.TheBabyWearer.com to find the carrier that's right for you.