Friday, August 15, 2014

The Manly Art of Babywearing

Before Jack was born, I didn't know what "baby wearing" was.  Sure, I could have put the two words together and figured it involved your baby being worn but I had no idea of the level of commitment supporters of the practice put in.  My wife, someone who is much more involved in the babywearing community than I am, shows me pictures of people with dozens upon dozens of woven wraps and carriers that match the season and their complexion to an almost supernatural degree.  That's fantastic if that's your thing, but this post won't go into that level of fandom.  Instead, this is for the dads or soon to be dads who aren't familiar with the practice like I wasn't.  Or maybe you think this is something that only women would do with their fancy contraptions and wraps that look like a rainbow threw up on a unicorn.  If that's you, great...this post will introduce you to - "The Manly Art of Babywearing."

So, what is babywearing?  At it's core it's what you'd expect - you wear your baby.  But why would I want to wear a contraption when I can just hold my baby?  Oh, go right ahead He-Man and see how long that 20lbs. bundle of joy lasts in your arms during an all day trip to the aquarium.  You're eventually going to get tired.  But it goes much deeper than just convenience (although that is certainly a great reason to start.)  In my family, my wife is the stay at home parent.  She spends most of her day with my son and enjoys a ton of bonding time with him.  I have to work and as a result spend a lot less time at home.  By babywearing your child from a young age, you are creating a bond with your child that otherwise might not exist.  Your child is close to your heart and can hear your heartbeat when they press their head against your chest.  They hear your voice up close and it becomes a soothing mechanic during those restless fits.  If our son ever gets cranky or just overall restless, throwing him in the Tula (a brand of babywearing device) and gently swaying will have him sleeping in minutes.  If you need more of an incentive, think about the benefits of a walk with your baby in a harness.  You are getting the benefit of a walk with your baby on your body.  So, walking + bonding + weightlifting = win.  And don't think you always have to baby wear, you don't.  I do it from time to time when we're out, but I also enjoy holding him in my arms.  Think of it as a supplement to your time with your child, something that will only intensify your bonding but will never hurt.

So, you're intrigued.  You're thinking, how can I get in on this baby wearing goodness.  Well, good man, I'll tell you how.  You're going to want to decide on what kind of carrier you'll want to use.  I break up the babywearing contraptions into two categories - structured and unstructured.  Structured is going to be something with buckles and straps.  You basically set it once and you're good to go.  You slide your arms in, snap a few buckles, and you're baby wearing in seconds (after some practice, of course).  This is my favorite because I'm lazy.  We use the Tula brand carrier but I've heard Ergos are also really good.  You're going to want to avoid anything that holds your baby up by his crotch though.  In the babywearing community, those contraptions are one step up from Satan and are called "crotch danglers."  I don't know enough of the science to say whether they are truly dangerous, but there are a ton of articles out there telling you to avoid them.  Do with that as you will and make your own decision.  The other method of babywearing, unstructured, is anything in my mind that has to be created each time.  My wife really likes these types of carriers and they include wraps, mei tai's, and other such devices that involve creating the carrier each time you want to use it.  They have their pro's and con's to each but it really comes down to which would work better for you.

Now that you know the benefits of babywearing and decided on which to purchase, it's time to reap the benefits.  It might take a few times to get comfortable in the device.  It took me a couple instances of complaining to my wife for help putting it on before I finally could manage on my own (again, I'm lazy...)  Now, I'm able to put my son in the carrier whenever I want and enjoy the benefits of bonding with my son while having him close to me.  Just wait until the first time your child falls asleep on your chest with his arms outstretched in a hug on your midsection.  Or the first time you're out at an event and your child, while in his carrier, looks up at you with those big eyes in pure wonderment.  You are his dad and the bond you're forming can't be replaced.  Just be sure to give fellow dad babywearers you come across a smile and a nod in public, because you guys know what's up when it comes to raising a kid right!

2 comments:

  1. International Babywearing Week is in October. Join an event near you! :)

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    1. Definitely! My son wasn't born last October so this will be our first, but I'll be sure to look for something in our area! Thanks for the heads up!

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