Monday, April 20, 2009

Baby-Wearing: AP Aerobics

Baby-Wearing is one of my favorite AP philosophies. By using the pouch sling, wrap, or ring sling, I was able to stay connected with Gianna while getting things accomplished.

People who criticize attachment parenting philosophies often say that there is no time for anything else if you are constantly nursing or parenting to sleep or holding or interacting with a baby.

This is why slinging was used so many years ago. Let's hearken back to Cave Clara. There she is, pictured wearing her baby while she invents agriculture!

Ancient peoples from every part of the world wore their babies, when the oldsters of the tribe weren't babysitting. This was beneficial for many reasons- Cave Gianna (or Ancient Middle Eastern Gianna, or Mayan Gianna) wasn't on the ground, playing with snakes and scorpions. Also, wearing babies allowed for mothers to continue to contribute to their families and tribes while allowing babies to have access to their food (Mama milk, of course) and curbed the crying that could alert predators to a vulnerable situation.

Babies who are worn statistically cry less, have less reflux, and help tune parents in to who your child really is. The poor baby on the right, for example, is equally fascinated by the camera flash, and disgusted by her mommy's lack of proper mirror cleaning techniques. Wearing Gianna allowed her, from birth until recently, to be up where the action is. She was able to see things from a vantage point that allowed her to see beyond the ordinary low stroller view of legs and rear-ends. Not that I'm knocking strollers! But wearing ones baby even occasionally allows for a much broader educational experience, which relates to a higher comfort level with their surroundings.

Can you be an attached parent and NOT baby-wear? Gasp. Good heavens. Can you? Yes. Absolutely. Like everything else (and you'll see this pattern repeat when I discuss Co-Sleeping), as long as you are responding to your child in a caring manner, and adjusting the circumstances as necessary, you are still an attached parent if you don't baby-wear. When I had Gianna, the Cesarean incision made it difficult to wear her for several weeks. Currently, until I acquire a Mei Tei or other Asian-style carrier (better for carrying toddlers on ones back), Gianna doesn't fit too well in any of our current carriers. This didn't stop me last week when I plunked her in a ring sling and took her to "tea" in Lansing! (Wait a sec; this isn't a political blog...)

The basics: If you are in pain, you are either wearing that particular sling or wrap incorrectly, or it is the wrong baby carrier for you, or you have some health issues that mean that you will have to find another way to transport your baby. The first two issues are easily solved by finding a local chapter of NINO- Nine In, Nine Out, an organization dedicated to helping families find the best way to wear their baby. Another place to look would be local midwives or birth centers. Now, thanks to Etsy and Hyena Cart and lots of little self-organized sites by crafty moms, there is no limit to the types and styles of slings and wraps one can buy. Please, please, PLEASE do yourself a favor and test different styles out beforehand, if you can. My favorites for the tiny baby stage are the Hotsling pouch and Moby wrap. As Gianna got older, I liked the Hotsling as a hip pouch (the brown and blue striped sling in the photos) and the ring sling, where she cruised through life on my hip. I even got some use out of a Guatamalan rebozo (a loosely, but strongly, woven length of cotton) in a hip carry.


gs said...

The word "brassiere" is derived from an Old French word (braciere) meaning "arm." Exactly how "arm" came to mean a garment for holding a woman's breasts isn't entirely clear, but one theory is that the garment was, at first, a sling used by mothers to hold babies across their chests (hence a "third arm").

I know this doesn't have anything to do with anything. I just find tidbits like this to be fascinating.

Clarateaches said...

This is pretty interesting! I enjoy little linguistic tidbits like that, too!