Standing in the Wrap

Sometimes as I wrap Belle she stretches her legs out to push against the bottom of the wrap.  Usually she’ll eventually bend her knees and sink down some and my wrap job may not be as snug around us as I’d like, anymore.  It’s easy to reach through and just bend her knees so that she is in position and I can snug the wrap job.  Here it is with a Front Cross Carry:

You can see that she is standing up in this Front Cross Carry.

You can see that she is standing up in this Front Cross Carry.

Reaching in under the crosses to bend her knees.

Reaching in under the crosses to bend her knees.

Side view of reaching under the crosses to position her legs.

Side view of reaching under the crosses to position her legs.

Nursing in One Cross of the Front Cross Carry

I’ve recently hit upon my new favorite nursing position.  I guess I’ve been wrapping Belle with legs out more often.  Now I’ve found that if I start in an upright Front Cross Carry, I can get a really comfortable and rock-solid nursing position (meaning truly hands-free) every time by lifting one of the crosses out from between her legs so that she leans sideways.

Let me explain, then I’ll post some pics to clarify.  I loosen the wrap a little, then lift Belle’s body so her weight’s not on the wrap, then I pull one of the crosses down from between her legs and around her body so that both legs are sticking out one side.  If I’m going to nurse her on my left side, then the cross coming over my right shoulder is the one that I’ll remove from between her legs.  Now that cross will be coming from my right shoulder, around her body, and around my left hip.  Her cute little legs will be sticking out on my right side, with the other cross still between them, and her head will be positioned at my left breast.

And I suspect that this is one of those cases where a picture is worth a thousand words so without further explanation…

Legs sticking out of one FCC cross.

Legs sticking out of one FCC cross.

At the nursing end of the Front Cross Carry.

At the nursing end of the Front Cross Carry.

Something about this particular position is very easy for me to get adjusted just so and does not require adjustments thereafter so I’m what you call a fan!

Cleaning House While Wearing Baby

Saturday my mom took Ada to spend the night with her, and David and Annabelle and I cleaned the living room.  It was so nice to just dedicate myself to cleaning for an hour or so, without distractions or interruptions and it was VERY nice to have a clean living room.  I’ve been taking pains all week to keep it nice because I think we’re all happier when our space looks lovely.

Wrapping Belle meant that I wasn’t interrupted by a baby needing to be picked up.  Wrapping her on my back meant that I was even able to lean over the washing machine, and there was no bundle in front of me to interfere with sweeping!  It also meant that Belle was a happy baby, cuddled up to her momma.  Having just  nursed, she happily went to sleep and my body movements kept her asleep for the duration.  Lucky kid woke up to find all of the work finished!

Sweeping while Belle snoozes in a Reinforved Rear Rebozo Rucksack.

Sweeping while Belle snoozes in a Reinforced Rear Rebozo Rucksack.

Doing laundry with Belle on my back.

Doing laundry with Belle on my back.

Shopping with Two Kids

I’ve got it pretty easy.  My big kid is five–a much more cooperative and responsible age than, say, three–and my little kid is only two months old, which means she’s easy to keep track of!

So shopping is not difficult.  I buckle in Annabelle.  Ada buckles in herself.  When we get there, Ada lets herself out, carefully staying near the car, while I unbuckle Annabelle and slip her into my wrap (pretied in a front cross carry).

When we get into the store, Ada rides in the shopping cart and this is the only tricky part!  With a baby wrapped on my front, it’s surprisingly difficult to lift Ada straight up and into the seat.

Out is easy.  If I take the cart to our car, Ada enjoys climbing out into the trunk of our minivan and from there into her seat.  I just hold the cart still.  That is her preferred way but she can as easily climb out of the cart into the open side door next to her booster seat.

If we don’t take the cart into the parking lot, I just turn my back to Ada, and she climbs out of the cart onto my back and slides down.  This is actually not awkward, difficult, or uncomfortable at all.  I should have my husband video tape it sometime to demonstrate!

But getting Ada in the cart is difficult.  I can manage it, by picking her up toward my side so as not to squash her sister, but always prefer to have her climb in without me if she can.  We look for steps, or short walls that give her a boost into the cart.

It would be much easier if I had Annabelle on my back but she is almost always nursing while we run erranhds so for now, we make do.

I’m lucky my big girl is so willing and helpful!

Florida State Fair

Babywearing, and nursing, at the Florida State Fair:

Nursing on the Ferris Wheel

Nursing on the Ferris Wheel

Goat, Annabelle, and I

Goat, Annabelle, and I

Sideways in the Front Cross Carry

Sideways in the Front Cross Carry

Above you can see where I put Annabelle in the front cross carry sideways.  I figured it would give her a view while still supporting her in a physiologically safe way, and giving her a way to cuddle against me before she became overstimulated.  I think it’ll work great, but the fact is that right now all she wants to do, especially in a noisy public place, is nurse.  So she soon ended up tummy to tummy again.  Also known as mouth to nipple.

Once or twice we ended up stuck behind a clunky stroller trying to maneuver through the muck of the fair.  I was glad not to be so burdened, and also not to be burdening my fellow fair-goer!

Babywearing Meeting

I love our local weekly moms group (and if you live anywhere near Pinellas County Florida you’re invited–Wednesday’s at 11am at the Dunedin Labor of Love).  It is so much fun to hang out with a group of strong women and happy babies and be able to ask questions of and discuss topics with the kind of people whose answers you respect and appreciate!

And I get to wrap with other moms.  Sometimes I’m showing them the ropes (showing them the wraps?), sometimes we’re just having fun.  Wrapping is fun, but wrapping in good company is better:

Getting wrapped up together!

Getting wrapped up together!

Our babies are in the same position as when they were in the womb!

Our babies are in the same position as when they were in the womb!

High Back Carry For the Non-flexible Parent

Sometimes when I’m showing someone how to adjust the wrap behind them, I run into this problem that they simply cannot reach as well as I can.  So I had to learn a new way to wrap up a little baby in a high back carry.  A way to do it without reaching high up my back.

Today I experimented with a rucksack.  I found that I could do the entire carry, bringing the straps over and under the legs, while my 7 week old baby was very low on my back.  Then a few bouncing tugs on the tails hiked her up to my neck.  Voila!

I’m so good, I even had it together to make a video!

Spoiling Babies

A (well meaning) friend asked with concern whether Annabelle sleeps outside the wrap since “it just seems like such a comfortable place to sleep!”

I hastily assured her that Annabelle sleeps just fine in her cradle by day and in our bed at night.  “But not on me,” I assured her.  I was quick to defend babywearing from the implication of spoiling babies.  But upon reflection, I wonder at this obsession with not letting babies get too attached, and I wish I could say that I had answered, “I don’t know how she would sleep without me and I’m not interested in finding out!”

We don’t have to teach infants independence.  They’re incapable of independence– they rely on us completely.  As they become capable their independence will spring from the knowledge of security in our love and support.  Do we want to teach our children that they can sooth themselves by demonstrating that they survive our neglect, or do we want them to learn self-soothing from our loving example?

The fact is that infants are designed to be on their mothers constantly.  Mother and baby thrive this way and the more devices and conveniences separate a baby from his mother, the more benefits are lost.

Perhaps if our culture could shift the emphasis in child rearing away from convenience and toward constant nurturing, we might discover the “convenience” of satisfied, thriving babies; of children who completely trust parents; of neighbors, co-workers, and politicians who have all benefited from an early introduction to a love-filled world . . .

I’m not recommending martyrdom.  In fact, I experience relief from pressures when I remind myself not to worry about my actions “spoiling” my child by allowing her to become accustomed to sleeping in-arms, nursing-on-demand, and having her every newborn whim catered to as best I can.  Once I let those considerations go, I find that I am free to delight in the constant sight, smell, sound, and feel of my baby.  I am free to neglect the dusting, let the machine answer the phone, and wear the same outfit I wore yesterday.  I am free to spend hours relaxing with my baby and I find that catering to her every whim provides an enjoyment and satisfaction beyond anything I could get done while she naps in the cradle.

I’m not going to waste my time worrying that she’ll never learn to sleep by herself.  People all across the globe and throughout history have managed it.

Just my opinion but the only “spoiled” baby is the one whose babyhood is wasted on sleep training and feeding schedules.  Even then, the baby isn’t spoiled–it’s really just the time together that’s been spoiled. And there’s no getting that time back.

Kiss

daddysleep

Ecological Breastfeeding

The term is brand new to me, but it turns out I already practice ecological breastfeeding!

I came across it in my search for an acceptable birth control method.  Ecological breastfeeding is free, comfortable, and natural–it fits all my criteria!

Wikipedia reports that it has a 1% failure rate in the first six months of a baby’s life, and only 6% failure rate after that until the woman’s period returns.  Pretty good rates for something I was doing anyway.

According to Wikipedia:

  • Breastfeeding must be the infant’s only source of nutrition – no formula, no pumping, and (if the infant is less than six months old) no solids or water at all.
  • The infant must be pacified at the breast, not with pacifiers or bottles or by placing a finger in the mouth.
  • The infant must be breastfed frequently. The standards for LAM (lactational amenorrhea method) are a bare minimum; greater frequency is better. Sucking should include non-nutritive sucking when the infant cues the mother, not just breastfeeding as a means of nutrition. Scheduling of feedings is incompatible with LAM.
  • Mothers must practice safe co-sleeping as it is the proximity of the child to the mother that increases prolactin.
  • Mothers must not be separated from their infants. This includes substitutes for mother such as babysitters and even strollers or anything else that comes between mother and physical contact with her child. Babywearing (using cloth carriers) means tactile stimulation between mother and child and increases access to the breast. Any separation from the mother will decrease the efficacy of ecological breast feeding.
  • Mothers must take daily naps with their infants.
  • A mother must not have had a period after 56 days post-partum (bleeding prior to 56 days post-partum can be ignored).

I don’t nap with Annabelle (I would if I didn’t have a five year old to keep up with) but she does nap on me, and I assume it is the proximity, not the sleep, which contributes to the effectiveness of ecological birth control.

And so I have discovered another benefit to the family of babywearing: it contributes to convenient spacing of babies and helps avoid the use of dangerous or inconvenient birth control methods!

Does it seem to anyone else that so many “modern conveniences” (strollers, pacifiers, cribs, and bottles) end up being more of an inconvenience than anything else?

Newborn Wrapping: Newborn Legs In or Legs Out

Newborn Legs In or Legs Out in a Wrap

Wondering whether to wrap your newborn legs in or legs out?

The real question of legs in/legs out is how best to support YOUR newborn in a comfortable and ergonomic way.

Optimum newborn positioning includes:

  • pelvis tilted forward
  • knees higher than bottom
  • knees spread about as wide as baby’s pelvis

So Should I Wrap My Newborn Legs In or Legs Out?

You should wrap around baby in a position that your newborn’s legs are naturally inclined to rest in. You will find that baby will tuck knees up, not spread too far apart.

Usually you can wrap around your newborn baby with legs out while maintaining this natural position.

Baby does not need to be able to spread legs wide or straddle your torso.  In fact, newborn legs are so tiny that the length of thigh from bottom to knee fits in front of a mama’s tummy with only a slight spread.

Wrapping a newborn with legs out is often more comfortable for baby.

And with newborn legs out, you can view baby’s feet to monitor circulation.

In the photos below you can see that Annabelle’s legs do not have to stretch around my waist or spread wide across my torso–she’s 6 weeks old in these pictures, and I’m wearing her low in the second picture because she’s been nursing in the front wrap cross carry.

Newborn legs don't have to stradle your waist!

Newborn legs don’t have to straddle your waist!

When is it Good to Wrap Newborn with Legs In?

Before 2010, it was most common (among US and European babywearers) to wrap a newborn baby with legs in – inside the wrap – in what was referred to as “froggy leg” position.

Because of this, there are a lot of older photos, videos, and resources that show this style of legs-in newborn babywearing.

There’s nothing wrong with wrapping a newborn with legs in the wrap – as long as you are doing safe positioning.

So make sure baby’s knees are not spread too wide.

Make sure baby’s weight is not on baby’s feet.

Make sure baby’s feet are comfortably flexed.

Sometimes newborns are very accustomed to being curled up.  And if that is what your baby’s body seems to want to do, go with it!

Here’s an example of a newborn who was not uncurled enough to wrap with legs out, but whose little feet did stick out:

Newborn Leg Positioning

Learn more about how to wrap your newborn baby here!

In conclusion, do what works best for you and your baby in terms of leg position.  Newborn legs in or legs out, either way is fine.

Newborn in a Mei Tai

I love our mei tai but I NEVER wear it because I REALLY love our wraps!

Someone at our mom’s group asked me to demonstrate the mei tai, so I put Annabelle on my front.  I’m glad I got a picture of her in there–don’t know when she’ll be in there again!

The mei tai is very comfy, though.  I put her in with her legs tucked in.

This is our very first mei tai.  A Freehand Mei Tai made by Kaire when she still owned her business.  Love it!

6 week old Annabelle in the Mei Tai

6 week old Annabelle in the Mei Tai

Happiest Baby on the Block

I recently watched the Happiest Baby on the Block DVD which offers five techniques to calm a crying baby:

swaddling

side or stomach lying

shushing, or white noise

swinging/bouncing and

sucking

If the author is correct that these five things trigger a baby’s calming instinct, it does explain why so many of us have had such fine results with wrapping which holds our babies close like a swaddle; which presses our baby’s tummy against our bodies just as with a stomach lying position; which exposes our baby to the constant sounds of our heartbeat, breathing and intestinal machinations; which bounces our baby with incessant human motion; and which contributes convenience to nursing-on-demand.

I say he’s on to something!

Going Out With a Newborn

I felt great after Annabelle was born (perhaps due to consuming the placenta?) and was eager to go out with her after the first few days. I wanted to show that baby off!

I turned to the front cross carry for a poppable, pretied carry. It is perfect! I tie it on at home and often use it to carry Annabelle to the car when I need my hands for the diaper bag, snacks, jackets, library books, etc. I take her out and put her in the carseat, leaving the front cross carry tied on me. When we park, I take Annabelle out of her seat and pop her into the wrap without retying. I do adjust depending on whether she wants to nurse or not—for nursing I usually wear her in it upright but a lot lower so that her mouth lines up with my breast.

When we get back to the car it’s the same routine—pop her out and into the carseat. When we get home, pop her back in so I can carry groceries, bags, etc.

The front cross carry is often touted as being the much more poppable carry over the front wrap cross carry, but I have found FWCC to also be easy to pop my newborn in and out of. There is one additional pass of the wrap with the FWCC, so that means three pockets to sort out putting the baby into, but this has not been difficult.

However, I eventually settled on the front cross carry as my preferred out and about carry and this is why. First, the knot is tied in the front, so that I am not leaning back on a big old knot while driving. Of course, one could use a longer wrap for the FWCC and bring it around to the front to tie and solve that problem. Second, the FCC is very easy to tie on without your baby, and approximate the fit so that there is little adjusting needed when you do slide your baby in. With the FWCC, I need to have baby in it when I tie it.

Another carry that I love for poppability is the hip cross carry. This one could also be tied on without baby and fit fairly well with little adjustment. However, with a newborn nursing almost constantly, I prefer the discretion offered by the cross carries. A one shouldered carry like the hip cross carry just doesn’t provide adequate cover. I use it for nursing at home, but despite being a fairly unashamed breastfeeding mother, I want more modesty at the grocery store. The hip cross carry is fairly discreet when nursing on the same side that the wrap goes over my shoulder, but when we inevitably switch, I’m feeling too much of a breeze! Nursing in the HCC in a cradle position is fairly discreet, but I prefer the convenience of nursing my baby upright so that she can switch sides and doesn’t need to be taken out to be burped.

Thus, I’m loving my front cross carry for traveling!

Nursing in th FCC While Bagging Groceries

Nursing in th FCC While Bagging Groceries (5 wks)

Awake in the Wrap

My baby is five weeks old and yesterday she stayed awake in the wrap while I did some grocery shopping.

Annabelle is almost always sleeping or nursing in the wrap.  I think this is a sign that she’s growing up.  She was awake and alert and I really enjoyed it!

Until now I’ve mostly had her wrapped low on my torso for easy access for breastfeeding.  There was almost no point tightening her back up after nursing because she’d likely start rooting around for the breast again and need to be lowered.  With such a little baby, wearing her low was not uncomfortable.

I think I’m going to start wrapping her high on my chest where she should be now, which is much nicer really: more cuddly and more comfortable overall.

Luckily I find that I don’t regret my babies’ growing up because they are so much fun as they grow up!

Wrapping to Sleep

At five weeks old, Annabelle’s sleep routine is not yet predictable.  We have better nights and less better ones.   The biggest problem I’ve encountered is that after waking up to nurse, she sometimes doesn’t fall asleep again!

At times like these, I discovered that the one sure way to lull her to sleep, is to wrap her on my front and bounce on the birth ball pretty actively.  If I keep it up for a good ten minutes she’ll be sound enough asleep to stay sleeping when I put her down in our bed.

While I’m VERY grateful to have this tool that works such a charm, getting up to wrap and bounce is a bit more of a disruption to my sleep routine than I care for!  It would be great as a technique to put her to sleep at the beginning of the night, but that has not been necessary (she usually nurses to sleep while we watch a movie before bed).

Well, someone introduced me to the concept of swaddling and I instantly saw that a good wrap job is similar to a swaddle in that it surrounds the baby’s body with fabric, holds the baby tightly, keeps the baby’s limbs from thrashing around, and emulates the womb-environment.  So it makes sense that they would have a similar calming and lulling effect.

Last night I swaddled Annabelle in a Miracle Blanket (loaned to me by my wonderful friend Evelyn) and she slept VERY well.  When she woke up I was able to pull her legs out of the pocket in the swaddling blanket so that she could pee in the potty.  Then I pulled the pocket back around her and nursed.  When I lay her down, she went right back to sleep–awesome!

Annabelle swaddled, 5 weeks old

Annabelle swaddled, 5 weeks old

And wrapping to sleep . . . is still great for daytime!  It’s wonderful to have other ways to parent Annabelle to sleep.  Wrapping is a great way for fathers to provide comfort too.

Neobulle Newborn Rucksack

I just used my 3.5 Neobulle Simon to put my five week old baby up in a high rucksack carry.  I love it!  The extra width of the Neobulle wrap made it real easy to get a good pocket under Annabelle, with plenty of width left to make a nice support behind her head.  I’m thinking this is a really easy wrap to do a newborn rucksack with, especially for less-experienced parents!

The fact that the wide wrap is excellent for big kids to is a bonus–talk about one wrap for an entire childhood!

My photographer (Ada, aged five years) took these photos showing Annabelle after we wrapped up, and after she fell asleep (8 minutes later).

Neobulle Rucksack 9:25am

Neobulle Rucksack 9:25am

Neobulle Rucksack 9:33am

Neobulle Rucksack 9:33am

Since her head fell sideways instead of forward against my neck, I reached up with both hands to pull the top edge of the wrap higher behind her head and I did not have to retie anything:

Pulling the top of the wrap up for head support

Pulling the top of the wrap up for head support

Sleeping and Supported, 5 weeks old

Sleeping and Supported, 5 weeks old

Nursing Upright in the Wrap

4 weeks old, nursing in the FWCC

4 weeks old, nursing in the FWCC

Soon I tried nursing upright in the wrap because I prefer wearing babies in the upright position, and because this position allows the baby to change breasts without the wrap having to be retied, and it is also the perfect position for burping.

I wrapped Annabelle upright, then lowered her down enough to put her mouth slightly higher than the level of my nipple.  Then I just needed to make sure the parts of the wrap coming around her head were the perfect tension to hold her head right there.  Then tie.  I like the front wrap cross carry best for this, and the front cross carry works great too.

Nursing in the FCC, 1 week old

Nursing in the FCC, 1 week old

When nursing upright, Annabelle usually ends up slanted in a cradle/upright hybrid position.  If she is nursing on the right side, then the wrap coming over my right shoulder is more bunched up, coming from behind her head to over my shoulder where it’s bunched away from my neck and right at the ball of my shoulder.  The wrap going over the left shoulder is spread wide, covering Annabelle’s whole body and crossing the entire width of my shoulder to my neck.

In fact, I’ve found that my upright nursing carries sometimes end up looking like a cradle carry, though that wasn’t how I put her in!  She won’t end up horizontal, but she does end up at various angles and rarely straight up and down.  This is how it has worked out for us and it highlights for me the versatility of wrapping and the fact that you don’t need to worry about duplicating a precise position, but finding something that works well, even if it looks unlike anyone else’s version of a wrap job.  So chill out, get your baby nursing and talk that wrap into holding baby in that position so you don’t have to!

The trickiest part of nursing in a wrap, with both cradle and upright positions, is getting the wrap to hold the baby’s head just right so you don’t have to.  You have to realize that the wrap needs to do exactly the same job your hand or arm is doing when you hold the baby there, and the fabric certainly can be made to do that.  Just persist in tightening or loosening or adjusting until you get it.  A lot of adjusting can be done without taking your baby off the breast, and with your baby nursing, you may find you have uninterrupted time to get finicky with your wrap job!

Annabelle Nursing, 1 week old

Annabelle Nursing, 1 week old