Monthly Archives: August 2014

I recently sat down with three babywearing dads to ask them why they wear their children. I just love their take on how babywearing helped them bond with and care for their babies!

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How did you get into babywearing? What made you decide it was something you wanted to do?

D: When my wife was pregnant with our first she was looking at things to help us with the baby. She found babywearing and once we dipped our toes into it we had to jump in.

I: It was born out of necessity. In reality it frees up your hands to be able to do things you wouldn’t normally be able to do with kids running around. Whether that’s housework or climbing on rocks or just generally being able to be places you can’t watch your kids and be able to do the things you need to do at the same time.  Your kids need you and it makes it so you can be there for them and still keep moving.

J: My wife did a lot of research when we become parents with our first on attachment parenting and pieces of that style resonated with her. A big part of it is picking up your kids when they cry and being there for them, and having them in a sling helped that. Our first child was high needs and he didn’t scream when he was in the carrier.

How has babywearing helped you bond with your kids?

D: One of the things I love is having a kid fall asleep on my back. I love the trust factor they have. As soon as I put them up they relax and fall right to sleep.

I: When you get into a situation where they need comfort, want to be close to you, or are tired and overwhelmed, or emotionally frazzled, it allows you to keep them close.  It’s caused me to be a little more snuggly than I otherwise would have been. I’ve been able to take them places I may not have been able to. I took my oldest hiking when she was two, I’ve been on adventures I would have otherwise have had to wait until they were much older. It provides a level of security, I can take them on an adventure and not worry they’ll have a tantrum and not make it back. I can carry them easily.

J: It’s been great. I found when our kids were first born my wife had an immediate attachment to them. As a dad that has grown over time. Wearing them helped facilitate the bond with them. It’s something we continue to do even now that our kids are older, when my 9 year old wants a piggy back ride I’ll use a carrier sometimes. It still helps center them. I could work from home and wear them and type or do dishes.

What is your favorite carrier style?

D: I love soft structured carriers. The Kinderpack is my favorite.

I: I like my full buckle. I also wear mei tais.

J: My wife made a mei tai and that is what I’m most comfortable with for sure.

What is one piece of advice you would pass on to other dads about babywearing?

D: Beyond all the bonding and hippy stuff it’s incredibly practical. When you have to take care of a kid and still live your life you can put them on your back and do chores, even mow the grass. It makes the kid happy, you happy and everything is easier.

I: Don’t hesitate. Start as early as you can. Don’t feel limited by the masculine options, just put your kid up on your back and go! Feel free to wear purple.

J: Just try it, keep at it and try a couple different ones until you find something that is comfortable. We bought some from a box store in the beginning that were just awful, don’t feel like you have stick with one that doesn’t work for you.

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I really enjoyed my conversations with these three dads and love all of their advice! How do the men in your life feel about babywearing? Share in the comments!

I love seeing babies worn! I always get a little smile when I’m walking around town and see a baby in a carrier all cuddled up on mom or dad. I’m proud to be a part of a group of people out spreading the love and teaching parents how to wear. As babywearing becomes more widespread, however, I feel that less people are getting direct instruction and more are learning from each other and some things may get lost along the way. As with anything involving tiny humans we have to be aware of how to do it safely! Don’t worry if it takes a little while to learn, there are always new things to figure out when you have a baby. Remember the first time you tried to buckle them in a high chair or car seat?!

 

Basic Safety in Any Carrier:

1. Make sure that baby’s face isn’t obstructed in any way. You’ll want to be able to see your baby’s face at all times. This means that no fabric should be covering her face and her head should be visible above the “rim” of the fabric. Any cradle position that has her head tucked in to the pocket is not safe. unsafe

2. Wear your baby as you would carry your baby. Would you carry your baby folded in half below your waist? How about under your arm like a purse? Probably not ;). We carry our babies high and near to our faces, usually with their head resting on our shoulder, chest or wrist. These natural carrying positions tend to tilt baby’s head back slightly to keep their airways open.

Remember the babywearing rule of thumb: Visible and Kissable. Wear your baby so you can see them and they are close enough to kiss and you’ll be just fine.

3. Protect your newborn’s airway. You’ll want to always have 2 adult fingers space between their chin and chest. Follow along with me for a minute. Tilt your head down and rest your chin on your chest. Now take 5 deep breaths through your nose. Were you able to? Remember that unless they are crying babies have to breathe through their noses. You actually got a deeper breath than your baby would because your teeth open your jaw, where a new baby doesn’t yet have teeth. I know when I do this I start to feel lightheaded. I’m not able to get enough oxygen and that’s just from a few breaths! This isn’t meant to panic anyone but is definitely something to keep in mind. Always make sure that there is enough space between chin and chest to keep their airway wide open.

4. Wear your baby in the supported squat position. Newborns do not yet have the solid bones and joints of older children and adults. They need a little extra support. We want to have them in carriers in the ways that allow their natural development. Think about sitting on a bench vs sitting in a rock climbing harness. A supported squat allows baby to be more comfortable and provides ergonomic support for their developing hips and spine.

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Fun Tip: If you already have a narrow base carrier and want to make it more comfortable for both you and your baby try the scarf trick! Wrap a piece of fabric around your lower back and behind baby’s bottom and under their knees. This can be used to get baby into a more supported position while adding support for your lower back! Also a wonderful way to make your front pack last longer!

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It can seem like a lot at first. If you remember the basics: visible and kissable, 2 fingers between chin and chest, knees above bottom you’re doing great. And remember that always your instincts come first, you know what’s right and safe for your baby better than anyone else!

I thought it might be fun to do a series interviewing babywearers on why and how they got into babywearing and what it does for their lives. I’m going to start with myself, just for fun.

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My first son was born in 2007 and I had seen babywearing recommended in a parenting book that I had read. I thought is sounded like a great tool. My son needed to be held constantly. He was the kid that was either in a swing or I was walking up and down halls with him. There was no babywearing group or community in my area at the time so I was on my own. I bought and returned every carrier they sold at the big box store near us. We used a few here and there that were less than ideal or safe but we got through. I remember one time going into the baby superstore and asking an employee if there was something that would allow me to wear my son while I bent over and picked up toys. He said no, no such thing.

My second child came around in 2009, and I was connected with a local babywearing group during my pregnancy. I remember my first meeting very well, at the time just a gathering of a few moms near the play area of the mall. I watched these women put on mei tais and wraps and almost cried. It was everything I had so desperately tried to find and wasn’t able to. Several of the women that were at that first meeting are still my friends years later.

I now have four children and lead the descendant of that same babywearing group. I wear because it allows me to keep my baby close and still feel like a human being. I am able to put my baby on my back, sit on an exercise ball and eat with a knife and fork while he sleeps. My third child did not sleep unless he was on one of our bodies for two and a half years. I can’t imagine what I would have done without this skill. I wear because I can calm a distressed toddler in a minute flat. I can get my crazy kids to the car, sometimes two of them strapped to my body when we need to get going in a hurry. I’m the first one out of the car for school drop off since I’m not struggling with a stroller or car seat carrier. I can take my kids to the botanical gardens and go up and down the stairs without a hassle! During growth spurts when my baby wanted to nurse all day long, I was able to nurse in a carrier at the zoo and keep my two-year-old happy wandering around looking at things. My marriage ended when I was pregnant with my fourth. Wearing allowed me to bond and cuddle my newborn while learning to manage my household as a single mama! What a lifesaver.

Early parenting is a difficult time. I’ve met so many mothers who are beyond exhausted, they are into that state that I think only a young mother knows. They can’t remember the last time they took a shower without rushing, ate a full meal, or slept a whole night. Babywearing allows moms to be able to do the tasks that make them feel like a complete person again. Go for a long walk, put on some make up, cook a meal, it feels good. Babywearing helps moms avoid postpartum depression by helping them feel like they can handle it.

It may seem that it’s all about the pretty fabric and the fun of having something cute like a new diaper bag. But as someone who has been teaching this skill for 6 years the look of relief, the eyes filling with tears, and seeing the shoulders of a new parent relax for what might be the first time since their child was born is worth so much more.

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I’d love to hear some of your stories and what babywearing has done for your family! Respond in the comments and I may contact you to be featured in a future article!

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Babywearing  San Diego was founded in 2009 as a parent to parent support group to teach people to choose and use baby carriers safely. They started in local parks with 2 leaders and almost no members. They taught with carriers owned and used by the leaders. Soon 2 more leaders joined and started a south chapter. For months they held very small meetings often teaching just a few families. Over the last few years they have grown to have two full libraries a Facebook page with over 4000 members and busy active meetings with dozens of attendees.

San Diego is a large city by acreage and this week I’d like to focus on the North County chapter. North County currently has 10 active leaders with decades of combined teaching experience. They have leaders with experience in a variety of unique situations including prematurity and special needs. They are all very passionate about the babywearing community and making sure it stays safe and reliable for all families. They serve people who love the collectors side of babywearing but share a passion for making it accessible to everyone. This includes guiding people on making their own carriers safely, helping caregivers get comfortable in ones they already have, or steering people towards purchasing the best option for them.

Meetings are currently held at a park in Oceanside on weekday mornings, and one in Escondido on the weekends. I hear rumors they may be adding a new meeting in the Poway area as well in order to serve as much of San Diego as possible! They also run a very active Facebook group where people can ask questions, share tips, and buy and sell used carriers.

Babywearing San Diego is also very active in outreach programs. This year they have attended BabyFest, a local fair for new and expecting families, to answer questions and even offered an introductory session. They also offer a monthly Babywearing 101 class through Babies in Bloom boutique. They also work with local community organizations such as the San Diego Birth Network to educate doulas, midwives, and other caregivers on how to support babywearing.

Meetings are always free, the leaders are 100% volunteer. They do offer a membership based library of carriers at the meetings. For a small annual membership fee members can check out a carrier for a month to try at home that they can then exchange for another one at the next meeting. Such a wonderful way to try new things without having to purchase them all!

You can find Babywearing San Diego online at http://babywearingsandiego.org/ or on Facebook. If they are local to you, I hope you’ll head to a meeting!

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Adding a new member to your family is a joy and a challenge, especially with older siblings involved. How do we continue to meet the needs of our older child and care for a newborn that needs constant care? Here are some of my favorite tips on how to manage the transition period.

Put together a nursing/feeding time box. Before baby is expected, get together a few toys that you can easily enjoy with your child with one hand. Blocks, cars/racetrack, new books, anything you think your child will enjoy. Put these in a special box or tote and put it up high and away out of sight. Once you new baby has arrived take down that box only when you’re feeding baby. Tell your child that these are special toys to play with with mommy during nursing/feeding time. In my experience, this only needs to be done for a few days but you’ll have the resource as long as you need it. This can make nursing time something your older child will look forward to, rather than feeling left out. When baby eats, I get special time with mom and some cool new toys!

Put your older child’s needs first. This may seem counter-intuitive, but it really works. If the older sibling is young still, when they run up to you and need you immediately hand the baby to another caregiver. If your partner or other family member is there to help you for the first week or so take advantage! Make sure your toddler or preschooler sees that you are still readily available. This can really help them with the transition.

Ask for and accept help. The advice of sleep when the baby sleeps doesn’t work so well with other siblings in the home. This is a time to cut yourself some slack. The house doesn’t need to be immaculate, or let’s be honest tidy. Paper plates are totally ok. Ask for a meal train where friends and family sign up to bring meals for your family for a few weeks. If possible hire help or allow your friends to help with the house. If that can’t happen, relax and understand that you will learn a new routine and be back to managing your home in time. It is totally ok for you to take some time to adjust too.

Babywear! I know, shocker right? Get an exercise ball, wrap baby up and bounce/wiggle. You may not be able to get baby down for a nap on their own with another child needing your attention. Take your big kid for a walk with baby in a carrier to settle them in for a nap, eat while wearing etc. Having your baby snuggled in close to you, while you have your hands free to push your child on a swing, prepare their lunch, or just eat with two hands is a complete lifesaver with multiple children.

Learn to feed your baby in a carrier. Nursing in a carrier is a learned skill but a very valuable one. I remember walking around a zoo all day with my 4 month old in a carrier who was going through a growth spurt and my 2 year old in the stroller. The little one nursed for several hours straight and I didn’t have to stop at all! What a difference from having to stay home all day during those times when they need to nurse all the time. I suggest keeping baby upright in the heart to heart position, lowering the carrier a bit so baby can access your breast and popping them on. As baby gets more head control this gets easier and in the beginning you may need to help by supporting your breast. Be gentle with yourself while learning this, try at home first and take your time. It is well worth the effort through. You can bottle feed in a carrier as well either by holding the bottle or tucking it under the wrap on your shoulders.

Find a support system. La Leche League is a breastfeeding support group that helps mothers of young children with many topics and there may be many wise women who have been through similar things with great tips and ideas for you to try out. Find a local playgroup and connect with other parents. Sometimes just having a sympathetic ear from someone that knows the struggle can make all the difference.

Relax. You’re not going to be perfect, you will make mistakes and that is totally normal and ok. Take the time to breathe and be with your kids, the rest of the world will wait.

I hope some of these can help your family as you add a new member. I’d love to hear any additional ideas that you have found work well in your family. Add them to the comments or on Facebook!

 

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