Tuesday, October 20, 2009

things I've learned from wearing my baby

I love wearing my baby. It's almost an addiction (I can quit anytime, really!). When I get out my sling, my son starts kicking his feet and squealing in delight, which gives me the biggest mommy high. Sometime I think he might love it as much as I do!

When I was still working, a lady came in to my store with her one week old baby snugly wrapped in this crazy, bright orange, stretchy, bedsheet, wrapped around her body*. I was absolutely fascinated. While pregnant, I knew I wanted to have baby carrier, for the occasional convenience factor, but I didn't know anything about the world of "babywearing". My first sling was a disaster. Purchased at a big box store, I thought all slings were alike. My tiny son soon let me know this was not the case.

A few weeks later, I borrowed a Baby Bjorn from a friend for an all day 4th of July event. It was awesome! I delayed giving it back for as long as I could. Unfortunately, I had to give it back right before our move, which only served to confirm how essential a carrier is.

A few weeks later, while unpacking, I unearthed a sling one of my best friends gave me at my baby shower. I noticed it was a brand I heard of through my midwifery practice's online discussion group. With a few YouTube lessons on how to use it under my belt, and a day hasn't gone by that I don't use it.

So here's what I've learned:

1) Babies are learning about their larger world while being worn.
My son is incredibly curious. He wants to be in the center of everything, looking, touching, tasting whatever he can get his hands on. This is not unusual for babies or particular to my son. But what strikes me as odd is how is often other people comment on it. Almost every time we go out, someone will say to me "What a smart baby- you can see he's really taking in his world" or something similar. Because he is completely integrated in my world, he is learning more about HIS world.

2)Babies are learning about emotions while being worn
Kids are amazingly intuitive. Body language is virtually their only way to communicate with the world. When my son is in his sling, he is constantly "checking in" to see how I am reacting to life. Because he's physically close to me for a large part of his day, he can tell if I am happy, sad, sick, or stressed by my body language. Since I am aware of this, I try very hard to make sure I demonstrate healthy way of dealing with all that life gives me.

3) Babies are learning about love while being worn
When I am wearing my son, I've noticed that I am far more loving and attentive to him. I talk to him constantly, we make eye contact, I'll scratch his back, or snuggle him in hug. He coos at me, scratches my "back" (really my arm since that's as far as he can reach!) and nuzzles his head down on my chest. The sling facilitates this so much better than when I have him in a bouncy seat or playing on the floor. He's also able to witness loving behavior between his daddy and I when in the sling and close to us. I pray that translates to a healthy marriage for him, in the future.

***One disclaimer though--I do not believe this means babies who are not worn are going to be deficient in giving or receiving love! There is much more to it than that! But in my very limited experience, it is easier for me to demonstrate healthy love while wearing a sling which as I said, I hope will allow him to have a healthy framework to start his life with.

* I later found out this was a Moby Wrap style carrier. I want one in the worst way!

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