Babywearing is my jam.
Really, though, I love it, and I feel like as Gemma gets older and the weather gets nicer, I'll only wear her more (until she grows out of it, of course, but let's not think of that whole baby growing up thing).
Before we get into any tips, here's why I think babywearing is amazing: -an easy way to bond with baby (on mom is the best place for baby to be) -baby gets to learn, as she spends time in a quiet-alert state and observes what is around her. -mom gets stuff done -apparently, it helps the baby's nervous system to develop because she is attune with mom's breathing and heart rate. -it's soothing. When Gemma was in her crazy screaming period (leap weeks, period of purple crying, whatever you want to call it), baby wearing helped soothe her when nothing else could.
When Gemma was about three months old, I attended a motherhood group and the topic of babywearing came up. A lot of moms were frustrated and chimed in, talking about how their baby didn't like the soft structured carrier, or they couldn't figure out a wrap carrier, or they weren't sure if they were safely wearing their baby.
I know all babies are different, but Gemma and I have had success with this baby wearing thing since week one of her life. I don't think I'm some kind of expert at it, but I do think there were a couple of things I did that made it work, and continues to make it work for us. Here are my top tips for moms trying to figuring out this babywearing thing- or future moms hoping to wear their baby:
1. Start early. I started wearing Gemma in a baby wrap (I have this Bambini and Me one) the first week I had her home. I wasn't sure how to tie the wrap correctly, but I just did my best, and I felt she was safe enough to have her in there for an hour or so. The second, third, and so on times wearing her in the wrap, we both felt more comfortable with it. As for the soft structured wrap (I have the LILLEbaby and love it!), I started wearing her in this at just under 1 month old. She didn't like it at first- but more on that later.
(she was so tiny!)
I think the early start got Gemma used to being in the wrap/ carrier right away. Of course, as such a tiny newborn, she loved being on me, and she immediately fell asleep. For most babies, I think the newborn days are the easiest days for babywearing; they love that mommy closeness and will most likely just fall asleep.
2. Be confident. As a new mom, it is hard to be confident about anything. The first weeks of Gemma's life, this insecurity was magnified. It was hard to feel like I was doing the wrap/ babywearing thing right. Was I going to drop her somehow? Was she comfortable? Was she going to get hip dysplasia? All of these thoughts ran through my anxious mom brain, and honestly, they still do.
When it comes to babywearing, though, you need to get confident about it. First of all, baby is going to be more comfortable about anything if mom is, so just be confident about your capabilities to wear that baby correctly. Read the directions, watch all the youtube videos, and do your best. Chances are, if your baby seems comfortable, she is, and you are doing it right.
3. Have help (at first). For those first few times getting your baby in a new wrap or carrier, having some help to tie the wrap, adjust the carrier, and get baby in and out safely is probably best. I benefitted from my husband's help a lot in this area. Throwing the baby into a new wrap or carrier all by yourself might not help in the confidence area I just mentioned, and it might also be unsafe.
After the initial uses, learn to get your baby in and out of the carrier or wrap on your own.
4. Persist through the crying (but stay safe). Gemma loved the soft wrap we have from the beginning. She seemed naturally happy in it from the beginning, and didn't put up much of a fight. When it came to the soft structured carrier (the Lillebaby), she did put up a fight from the beginning. I found this to be a common complaint from the moms in the motherhood group I was talking about earlier.
However, by the time Gemma was three months and I was listening to mom's talk about this issue at the motherhood group, we'd already gotten through all that and were using the carrier with happiness and ease.
Here's the thing: I had to play around with the positioning a bit, but most of all, I had to force it a little bit. I'm not sure if that sounds wrong, but I don't think it is. Gemma wasn't as snug in the Lillebaby as she was in the wrap, so she put up a fight in the beginning. She wouldn't fall asleep as easy or stay in the carrier as long as the wrap. I knew she wasn't uncomfortable and I knew she was safe; she just didn't prefer it- it was something new and she wasn't used to it.
I knew I was going to want to use this carrier often. It was more comfortable for me because it gave me more back support and I felt Gemma was less slouchy and in a better position than the wrap. I still love both, but this more structured carrier is better for longer use and more active wear. So I practiced, and eventually, Gemma loved it and still does. I gave her her pacifier over and over, patted her butt, danced around, put on music, and it worked!
Now she doesn't need that whole routine to be happy in the Lillebaby. She loves it, and I use it while I'm cleaning the house, at church, taking a walk, doing a babywearing workout, and most of the time, she falls sound asleep.
Here are some safety tips to figure out if your baby is actually uncomfortable or just adjusting to something new:
*If you intuitively feel your baby is crying because they are not comfortable, obviously don't force them to stay in the carrier or wrap*
5. Get the Positioning Right. Different sized/ aged babies are going to be comfortable in different positions in the wrap/ carrier. It is so important to make sure you are using a newborn carry for newborns, and then beyond that, a carry that is correct for your baby's size. Gemma didn't really like the fetal carry in the Lillebaby, but she liked the infant facing in carry from the beginning. It was important for us to to try both, and not just give up when the first one didn't work. It may seem obvious to do this, but I know when you have a crying baby, sometimes, trying something in a different way doesn't cross your mind. Just getting the baby to stop crying tops the list, so trying a different kind of carry doesn't seem like the next step. However, sometimes you've just gotta get a different carry to make it work.
Read the manual, watch all the videos, follow the recommendations for age/weight, check out the safety tips in the graphic above, and you'll be fine.
6. Keep moving. If all else fails, this is my favorite tip and what works best for us. Gemma likes being worn best if I'm moving. I don't wear her if I want to sit on the couch. I wear her if I'm up and moving. And my movement makes her happy. Once she falls asleep, I can sometimes sit down with her and she will stay sleeping and happy.
So if your baby isn't liking your wrap or carrier, just move more. I mean really move. Walk, a lot. Dance around. Go hiking. Vacuum. Your babe might just fall happily asleep.
Again, these are not expert tips. Just tips from a mom who wears her baby quite often, and feels babywearing has been a saving grace some days when nothing else worked.
Babywearing has been one of the best ways to simultaneously get things done and bond with Gemma. I love having my baby nice and close, and I also love being able to do more than stay parked on the couch entertaining her all day. Thanks to babywearing, I've done my makeup, gotten emails out, worked out, cooked dinner, vacuumed, all when I thought these things would no longer be possible except for during naptime.
Here's to you, babywearing, for making the craziness of new mom life just a tiny bit easier.