The end is a happy, thriving child; a relaxed, loving mama; and a strong bond between them. The means is the baby wrap.
Wrapping made mothering less stressful and more fun. Let’s face it, this society isn’t exactly tailor made for women with children. Sometimes it’s a pain to function with children in this society. Wrapping made it easier.
I love wrapping, and I love helping other moms and babies get wrapped up together. But lets be clear here, not wearing your baby is not a problem for me. If you think I looked at you askance when you said you didn’t want to wear your baby, it’s likely because I was trying (and failing) to imagine how that would work. I wasn’t passing judgment, just hoping it worked out!
When I promote babywearing, I am doing it because it can help moms. I believe we all want to keep our babies happy. This is the best and easiest way I know of doing it. So it helps babies, too, because babies are kept happier, easier.
In the US, we talk about babywearing enhancing the relationship between mother and baby. In Kenya, where strollers are not the norm, they worry that the introduction of the stroller “may damage the relationship between a mother and a child.”
The shift in viewpoint produces more dramatic language that specifically calls out the stroller as a potential danger. It’s interesting to note that even those of us who shun the device are colored enough by our culture to refer to babywearing–and not strollers–as the alternative, discussing babywearing benefits instead of stroller hazards.
“It’s just not Kenyan…For the child, the love will not be there if the child is cooped up in such an antisocial device.” Do we really want that description labeled “American” instead?
We nurse often, but we aren’t stuck at home because we happily nurse everywhere!
We cloth diaper, but we aren’t stuck at home because wet bags make it easy to cloth diaper on the go.
We EC (elimination communication) too, but with a potty in the trunk and lots of bushes and restrooms, that’s easy too.
We homeschool, but that takes us everywhere but home.
Yes, I have a five month old baby, but I’m not stuck at home. Thank goodness for my wrap!
I can go anywhere with my baby without the limitations of a stroller.
In the wrap we can nurse while shopping, wading, chasing, and reading books in the children’s section of the library.
While wrapped up, Belle doesn’t pee, so it’s easy to take her out when we are near a public restroom and let her pee before slipping her back in the wrap.
Wrapped up, Belle can eat and sleep on demand–so we don’t need to schedule our activities around nap time.
Because she’s wrapped up, I have my attention free to point out to my five year old the seahorses at the aquarium. And you know what, Belle doesn’t have to wait until she’s tall enough to see them too!
2.5 months old, Belle nurses in the wrap while I push Ada and her friend Mia on the swings
In wrapping news, Lindsay got a water wrap, Julie’s going to buy Lindsay’s Christiane EllaRoo, Ainsley and Evan are deciding which Bali Baby Breeze to get, Anna bought my Earthy Rainbow Girasol, I bought Tina’s mystery organic wrap, and Tina’s going to sell her short EllaRoo and buy a Bali Baby Breeze. Wow!
Amanda’s son’s little legs turn blue when she puts him in most any baby carrier so she and I played with the Front Wrap Cross Carry, experimenting with spreading each of the three passes of the wrap over his body AND legs so that his legs are not hanging out, and there is no part of the wrap that is crossing tightly over his calves. Momma and baby were comfy and happy in the carry, and it doesn’t seem that there should be any disturbance to his circulation, so we’ll call that one a success! This versatility for problem solving is my favorite thing about wraparound carriers, unlike other carriers that are shaped to be worn a certain way and that’s it.
Front Wrap Cross Carry with the legs covered
Anna wanted to wrap up Naomi who was sleeping on her chest in her arms. Anna knows the Front Cross Carry but I showed her the Front Wrap Cross Carry–easier to tie on while holding your baby–and she got her new Earthy Rainbow on. Stunning!
Sleeping newborn getting wrapped up in Earthy Rainbow Girasol
I wanted to show Nancy the Front Cross Carry. She had used the Front Wrap Cross Carry with Michelle when she was younger but now Michelle is not enjoying the wrap. I think if Nancy does a pretied carry like the FCC, and Michelle does not have to put up patiently with the wrapping process, she might settle down happily in the wrap. It’s an experiment that was postponed because in order to pretie our carries, we both had to put our babies down, and our babies were adamantly and affectionately attacking each other in an alarming fashion. Every time we got started with the wraps, we had to drop them to dive for the babies!
Susan brought two traveling Ellevill wraps, which was exciting for me as I had never touched one before. The pattern is exquisite, and I really dug the colors too: dusky rose and mossy green! They were thin and floppy and comfy for the short time I wore them. Annabelle fell asleep in one and I hated to take it off when it was time to leave!
rucksack in short Ellevill
Front Cross Carry in the green Ellevill
All of that was very much in the background, however, and the bulk of the meeting was the lively discussion, reassuring moms about post partum hair loss, advising on lying down nursing techniques, recommending cloth diapers and how to try them out without a big financial commitment, discussing everything from the state of mind of a laboring woman to tiny testicles to cradle cap.
We also opined on the purpose of our group, the people we’d like to reach out to, and the difference we want to make. Some of us are living natural mothering out on the fringe, and others are following a more mainstream course. I think the conclusion was that we wanted to include anyone who wants to parent peacefully and with respect, and we really want to draw in new mothers and first time pregnant moms and surround them with peaceful, practical mothering practices so that they do not feel that they are caring for their new babies in a void.
As a result of this talk, I edited my page about this Moms Circle to reflect that we are not here to promote specific practices so much as to validate each woman’s innate knowledge and offer advice to support what works best for her and her baby. I am very proud to be a part of this group and feel that we are helping a lot of moms–myself included!
We went swimming in our friend Darlene’s pool last week and she took some pictures of Annabelle and I in the water wrap. I tied it in a front cross carry, with the tie behind her back instead of under her legs. And Darlene put Audrey in their new Alice Bali Baby Breeze wrap!
It is true of all human babies that they must be able to breathe. This is true in arms, in bed, in wraps, and in cars. Always and everywhere.
Usually there is no difficulty. But in the case of a very young infant, especially premature or weak infants, extra care is wise as the baby may not be able to move their head to get a clear breath, or to move away any obstruction. They are entirely dependent and should ideally never be out of sight.
I love a baby wrap for keeping your baby always under your attentive eye. What you should be looking out for is that the baby’s face is always clear–not covered by cloth or blankets or anything else; and the baby’s neck is straight–not doubled over with chin close to chest.
When using a cloth baby carrier, make sure it holds the baby in such a safe position and that you can see your baby’s face.
When putting your baby down to sleep make sure it is on a firm surface with nothing nearby that can end up covering your baby’s face.
When baby is being held, maintain their position so that their necks are not overly bent.
When baby is in a car seat, try to keep baby’s head from folding down into an unsafe position. When possible, have an adult where they can see the baby, and do not use the car seat more often than necessary.
Any recommendation that slings and baby carriers be avoided is not necessary when parents understand how to safely care for their infants in AND OUT of carriers. The rules for breathing are the same. Please comment with any questions you may have about this. I teach safe babywearing locally, and will be happy to let you know of any babywearing classes I may know of in other areas.
a few weeks old . . . face clear, head tilted upward
Chances are, if you are pregnant with your first baby, you’ve daydreamed about what it’s going to be like to hold your baby, wondered what kind of personality your baby will have, even speculated about what your baby will grow up to be. But I bet you haven’t considered whether or not you will “let your baby cry it out.”
In the milky haze of pregnancy, all my thoughts were rose-tinged baby toes, cute-as-a-button noses, and the perfect fit of baby to mother. I wouldn’t have dreamed of sitting unhappily in the living room listening to my baby cry in the other room, and I don’t think any mother goes into it with this in mind.
You don’t have to and your baby shouldn’t have to, either.
While deciding not to co-sleep is not simultaneous with letting your baby cry, choosing to co-sleep precludes the concept most decidedly. When your baby is with you, your baby will never have to cry for you. It’s that simple. It’s a very small, tremendously compelling reason to choose co-sleeping.
It’s always tough to decide which carries to demonstrate as the wrap can be used in hundred of ways, and every mother-baby dyad has their own favorite that works best for them. So I try to pick the ones that are likeliest to work best and come easiest for the most people.
I picked the Front Cross Carry, because it’s easy to pretie and pop baby in and out of, and it’s easy to adjust for nursing. That made the FCC my favorite newborn carry (and this was a largely pregnant crowd), and it’s still my favorite now that she’s five months old. The Front Wrap Cross Carry can be easier for a newbie to get snug and tight, but the two advantages I mention to the FCC make it worth practicing a few times until it’s perfect.
Annabelle was desperately hungry, so we demonstrated nursing, and while she nursed we talked about leg positioning, and safe babywearing to ensure your baby can breath. One of the benefits of babywearing is that your baby is never left unsupervised!
For a back carry, I chose the Rucksack Carry because it’s easy to understand and remember. Then someone asked for my favorite carry and I demonstrated the Double Hammock Back Carry. I love the Double Hammock!
Annabelle took a bathroom break and when we came back, we were pressed for a quick explanation about elimination communication, and Belle got a round of applause from the admiring folks. As an EC’ing parent, it’s always difficult to decide whether to reveal that all babies are able to communicate their elimination needs, or to just accept it when people attribute advanced skills to my baby . . . “Yes, it’s true, she is a genius, a prodigy, and NASA is already working to secure her cooperation for some advanced research projects . . . ”
Then the mommas got to play with the wraps–it’s the best part!
Tonight Annabelle and I showed some moms how to wrap their babies. Altogether TOO much fun! But somewhere amidst the flurry of fabric, co-sleeping came up.
A mom (Hi, Lee Anne!) wanted my take on co-sleeping. I told her how convenient it is, how cuddly, even how it contributes to ecological breastfeeding. But I felt like I hadn’t really put my finger on the importance of co-sleeping, and now that I’m home, I realize what I was missing.
Human babies are designed to be with an adult human constantly. Mostly the mother, for obvious reasons, but they need us for a lot more than sustenance. Their bodies grow stronger when they are being held, and likewise their emotional constitution. Their bodily functions are regulated by ours, learning rhythm, even remembering to breathe, by proximity to our more experienced lungs. Their muscles gain tone and balance by the stimulation of being held against our working muscles going about our daily tasks.
This is not mere fancy, on my part. Studies show miraculous interrelations between mothers and babies, from the mother’s bodily temperature adjusting in response to her baby’s need for temperature regulation, to the sensitivity gained from sleeping beside her tiny offspring.
Babies aren’t designed to be alone.
And so, many of the benefits of babywearing are shared by co-sleeping. Keeping your baby close means a happier, healthier, stronger, safer baby. It means a more relaxed, confident, peaceful, and fulfilled mother.
A lot of our questions overlapped today, which is handy for fitting everything in. Tina and Ainsley wanted to know about discipline for their older girls, and how to handle behavior that seems inappropriate without behaving inappropriately themselves . . .
. . . and, how to answer family members who tell us we’re doing it all wrong! A lot of us had some strong opinions about that. In fact, I came right home and wrote the post below this about my spoiled baby as a rebuttal to the very notion of family members implying that love and attention could spoil anyone! Susan had a great point that trying to convince people just invites more debate, whereas flatly stating, “I’m the mom and these are the choices I am making for my children,” is the most effective way to put a stop to the criticism.
And the discipline question? Evelyn shared her experiences and the results with her now grown children. Several of us had similar experiences. In a nutshell, firmly forbidding our young children to do something has proved ineffective, while taking care of the needs children may not realize they are acting out about, and working to restore the connection and communication between parent and child, have always improved behavior and relationships.
At what age do children learn to mind their parents, Ainsley optimistically asks. Ha! Human beings naturally rebel against being controlled as we want to control ourselves. Turns out children are human beings! So, it’s continuing to create a safe, close, and loving relationship that lessens rebellion and promotes “minding.”
Amanda came to our group for the first time with her gorgeous daughter Naima and had plenty to share herself, while asking for help with her baby wrap, and ideas for continuing to co-sleep with her little miss bed-hog. She got both, the former from Lindsay who helped her and Naima get into a killer Front Cross Carry in their BB-Slen wrap, and she suggested her own co-sleeping suggestion–turning her baby’s as-yet-unused crib into a sidecar for more room.
Tawny and Susan reassured Anna on her newborn’s breastfeeding quirks and advised Amanda to hand express milk to relieve engorgement instead of pumping, which would just encourage her body to continue overproducing. Although a happy byproduct of that oversupply was some pumped milk for Susan to bring to a local mom in need of milk for her baby.
Anna worried about her baby crying on car rides and there was a lot of sympathy from those of us who have been there (or are still there). Lots of suggestions, and things to try, and assurances that this too shall pass.
“I’m looking for a wrap for my toddler and will keep it later for my 2nd child. She is now 18 months and at the moment I’m using ring sling to carry her. I often experienced pain on one side of my shoulder and that’s why I’m looking for a wrap. I’m quite new to this things and hope you can help me with the following inquiries:
i) What is the different between woven and stretch material? What is the purpose of both?
ii) I would like to carry my daughter in cross cradle, front wrap cross, pocket wrap cross, cross carry, back wrap cross, rusksack carry positions. Based on this position requirement what is the best length of the material should I purchase. I am 5 feet 3 inch (160cm tall). My daughter now is 24lbs.
iii) I’m staying in a hot climate country, what the best material to keep my baby cool.
iv) You have a huge collections, based on my requirement which one will you suggest to me??”
I’ve used many woven wraps, but only rarely used a stretchy wrap, so I am not an expert on stretchy wraps, but here is what I know about it: Many people consider them easier for people who are new to wrapping. Many people consider that they can only be used for the first few months of a baby’s life, and then the baby becomes to heavy to use a stretchy wrap comfortably. Many people also consider stretchy wraps unsafe for back wrapping.
A woven wrap is fantastic for a newborn or a toddler and is the most versatile carrier, and so I would not recommend that you get a stretchy wrap.
A medium wrap (around 4.6 meters long) is perfect for the average person to do all of those carries. If you are bigger or smaller you might prefer a bigger or smaller wrap. Here is more information about sizing.
I think you will be very happy with a woven wrap for carrying your toddler, your newborn, and for keeping the weight distributed across your torso and both shoulders. Let me know if you have any more questions!
A customer has a wrap that she likes but wants a Bali Baby Breeze and wants to know which size to get. Here are some things to consider:
The Bali Baby Breeze sizes are in half yard increments.
When you use your wrap, do you have much fabric left hanging? If you could do your favorite wrap-ups with less fabric, you can get away with a smaller size (measure the excess to make sure there’s plenty to tie with half a yard less fabric).
Alternately, maybe you wouldn’t mind an extra half a yard hanging down and you can get the larger size. Half a yard is 1.5 feet. If you had 1.5 extra feet, that would be 9 extra inches on each tail.
When Ada was a baby, I had fewer luxuries, but over the years we’ve acquired them slowly, and since we had all the baby things we needed leftover from Ada, this time we get to splurge on some of the baby things we wanted!
You know, like a nice wet bag instead of an old plastic grocery bag for wet diapers…
And a water wrap, for wearing Belle in the shower, pool, or at the beach! Awesome! Also, not so necessary with baby number one, but now that I have a five year old to keep up with, a water wrap for the five month old is so valuable! I love this thing:
Belle is watching and learning how to become a handful.
my beautiful family
safe and comfy at the beach
And it actually would have been VERY handy for baby number one, who was a never-put-me-down kind of baby, so I could have taken the occasional shower! I don’t really need to shower with Belle, because she waits patiently for me, but it’s a fun experience anyway:
I look forward to this group all week, then I drag my heels about leaving and have to apologize to Grammy who ends up watching my 5 year old for FOUR HOURS while she’s trying to work–yikes!
Yesterday Anna and 2 week old Naomi came to tell their birth story. There is so much to learn from every birth story I hear, much to celebrate and sometimes to mourn, and every aspect is immensely educational. Anna told the story of a serene birth which was not “under control”, because birth never is, but in which no one felt the need to try and control it and as a result things went smoothly and beautifully.
Anna and Naomi
Anna and Naomi’s story lead to a discussion of midwives and unassisted birth. Also a discussion of pacifiers and whether to use them.
Lindsay had questions about her baby’s irregular nursing patterns. Tawny works with La Leche League and helped her out with her questions.
Lindsay and Capri
I wanted to know whether it was appropriate to start feeding 5 month old Belle, and if not, how to keep her away from the food and drink she is so enthusiastically after! We discussed Baby Led Weaning. Thanks Susan, Tawny, and everybody for input on that!
Belle looking for something to eat.
We discussed placentophagy–consuming the placenta after birth–different methods and benefits, worldwide and historical traditions, sharing our own experiences as well as what we’d heard from others.
I’m sure there was more but I wasn’t taking minutes. I did, however, have a fun babywearing session with Lindsay, Anna, and Julie! We did a nursing FCC–tied our babies on, lowered the wrap, and, “One, two, three, nurse!” Gives new meaning to “nursing on demand.” Julie wanted to learn a fast, easy back carry, too:
This article cites these reasons why car seats are not safe:
babies have been injured when car seats fell off of high surfaces
babies have been injured when carseats turned over on soft surfaces (like a bed)
babies have been injured falling out of car seats when not properly buckled
more babies have “container syndrome” or weak muscles and flat heads due to being carried in a car seat
it can be difficult for babies to get enough oxygen in a car seat, according to some studies
And here are some reasons why a baby carrier is superior:
babies cannot be worn without being supervised so they can’t fall out when you leave the room
the babywearer has hands free to catch self in case of a fall, so that baby is not dropped
a worn baby is getting the perfect physiological workout just by being held against you
worn properly, a baby’s face will be clear of the baby carrier, with head supported to ensure easy breathing
The fact is, babies are designed to be held, and study after study has shown that the more they are held, the more they thrive. Whereas studies are also finding that babies in containers are subject to the above disadvantages.
One way to keep cool while you keep wrapping all Summer long, is to use less fabric. By learning one or two great carries that don’t use much fabric, you can get away with a short wrap that layers across yourself and your baby fewer times. Fewer layers, means less hot!
Dana and Jocelyn in a Reinforced Rear Rucksack (RRR)
If you’re thinking about using a short wrap for Summer, experiment with these carries with your long wrap. See which ones you like best, then measure how much extra wrap you have to see how small you can go! I like a wrap around 3.5 meters for most of these carries. A size 2 wrap (under 3 meters) is perfect for a Traditional Sling Carry (TSC), which can be worn front, hip, or back! Size 2 is also long enough for the Reinforced Rear Rucksack (RRR)–a real sturdy short carry!
Babywearing keeps babies closer to parents, and I’m always happy when the word is getting out. So I was pleased to see the Today Show cover babywearing. This was some great exposure that covered the recall of dangerous slings, but in general cast babywearing in a pretty good light!
This is mainstream America, and I’m not expecting them to get HOW COOL wraps are! I’m really pleased that the Moby wrap was featured as the most comfortable of the baby carriers they tried out! For a back carry, though, please do get a sturdy woven wrap! Why you don’t use the Moby for a back carry.
I do not recommend wearing babies facing outward, as was shown on the segment, though some babywearing pros consider it harmless when done mindfully and for short periods of time.
I do not recommend ever wearing babies with their legs dangling from the crotch, as an outward facing Bjorn positions them. There’s no need to subject babies to this uncomfortable hanging position that is stressful on their developing spines–not when a good wrap will provide an easy way to make a seat under your baby in any position!
And those hiking backpack carriers? Sure, they’re convenient for being able to go out with your toddler/preschooler, ditching the stroller (I’m always about ditching the stroller), etc. But they don’t contribute to the major babywearing perk of staying close against each other. So, I don’t object to them. But just imagine adding cuddling time to the equation, and that’s why I love wraps above carriers like this!
In fact, I smugly noted that a good woven wrap can do everything that those carriers were recommended for. One good woven wrap.
The biggest complaint I’d hear about wrapping was getting too hot in Summer. So I got a gauze wrap and started using it almost exclusively. I found that it really did make a difference! The lightweight gauze is so thin, the airflow is much improved and my baby and I both stay cooler.
Use gauze wraps with multi-layer carries–the thin fabric will leave you feeling much cooler even in layers, and the thin fabric can be uncomfortable in single-layer carries. I stayed comfortable hiking in 90 degree weather with my BBB wrap in a Double Hammock Carry last weekend.
Wrap carefully to avoid uncomfortable pressure points–the thin wrap can dig in if not spread and tightened well, but it makes a dream of a wrap job when you take the time to tighten all across the width of the wrap evenly. A thin wrap can provide a very close, comfy wrap job that doesn’t budge as you and your baby wiggle through your day.
Lighten your load by leaving your big diaper bag in the car and carry only a few essentials in the pocket sewn into the tail of your Bali Baby Breeze. No straps or bags will mean a cooler walk for you. That pocket could also carry your water bottle.
Enjoy how small your Bali Baby Breeze wrap folds (or wads) up when not in use. Stuff it into the built in pocket in the tail or the matching bag it came in and watch it fit easily into your diaperbag.
Pretend not to notice the looks of appreciation as you sport your stunning batik wrap out in public, striding confidently past onlookers like a cool, casual movie star!