So I was asked, several months ago now, to write a short piece for a local publication.
Someone had said to me, “Why don’t you write something about babywearing?’
“Sure ok”, I replied, I love writing stuff really, I could write much more than people would be interested in reading I imagine, on pretty much any topic, but obviously, babywearing, sure I could write about that…
“What do you want me to write about?” I inquired.
“Oh, I dunno, just like what is it and how you do it I guess.. Oh and normally coloum limits are around 150 words so work within that kind of frame or just over if you can…” there was a period of drawn out silence… “we can be flexible, like 250 would probably be ok I guess..”
Obviously my facial expressions had given some kind of clue to my reaction to that, given the response I got… You want me to say ‘what babywearing is and how to do it’ in 150 words? Seriously…?
Now don’t get me wrong, its a great opportunity, I should totally write something to be published.. I have had this at the back of my mind since the proposition was put to me..
I have tried writing stuff a few times..
I get ranty and all about ‘how western society has disconnected from our roots, babywearing is not something new etc etc’ and I’m like at 150 words before I even explain, it is ‘the act of wearing you baby or child’…
Honestly thought, before the introduction and rise in popularity of the pram/stroller in the 1900s, which was a sign of status and class, parents all over the world wore their babies, anyway they knew how, because babies have always wanted to be held and parents have always had stuff they have to do.. (if you want to read more about the history of babywearing see here for a good start http://www.slingbabies.co.nz/Site/History_2.ashx)
So this was my first attempt;
There has been an increasing number of parents today that have started to again utilise a parenting tool that our Western society has in recent generations forgotten, which is babywearing. For thousands of years, parents all over the world have strapped their babies to them in a variety of ways and continued about their daily lives & work with babies who cry less, settle more quickly, etc etc.
For my family, when my eldest son was first born, we discovered babywearing as a way for us to continue doing bushwalks, a favourite activity for my husband and I. Since having my second baby I have come to appreciate & embrace babywearing even more as it allows to meet the needs of both my baby and toddler.
And then, after all that, I realised that actually doesn’t answer the question at all… And, I’m pretty damn close to 150 words already…
“go to a local sling meet!” would probably be more appropriate but again it tells you nothing!
(on that note, if you are in NZ you can find a list of these around the country here – http://nzbwingmarketplace.weebly.com/nz-babywearing-groups-and-consultants.html)
I guess it is probably best to share some photos? I mean they asked me to accompany a photo with what I write “to show” what babywearing is… But even that’s hard!
Babywearing means different things to different people and there is soo much range and so many options!
And even just after quickly making that collage now I just realise I didn’t even add a Mei Tai photo!
All of those images and more are what babywearing is. Literally, it is the act of wearing/holding your baby with the help of some kind of wrap or carrier…
How you do it…?
Well the best question I can think to compare that to is, how do you buy and wear clothes?
Well it depends on a huge amount of factors, obviously personal preference is big one, what size & shape of both wearer and wearee (as well as age and stage of the child being worn), what you are looking for, what you are hoping to get out of it…
I have a library to share with others and help them explore various options and preferences they have in a carrier but I know, despite the many we have, both my husband and I have firm favs and they are different from each others and sometimes they change…
But that should be no indication of the “best” for anyone else by any means… It’s just our preference..
If you were to ask him, the type he likes is a Soft Structured Carrier (SSC) and his firm favourite at the moment, for a while now, has been the Bitybean (he also takes pride in the fact his favourite is the cheapest in the library… Haha).
He likes the light weighted nature of it and has sussed doing it by himself; shoulder strap clipped first, loosen arm straps, put over your head and clip up waist strap, put in baby and tighten arm straps… I have tried to explain he could use this same trick with any other SSC cause sometimes he wears our 10kg 10 month for quite sometime, hours or for naps, and in those times he finds that more padding might be beneficial. But that’s what he likes so he’s sticking to it for now…
My two favourite styles for my 10 month old are generally an Open Tail Ring Sling or Mei Tai.. Though I wear him in a much broader range than that.. I mean we have a library, you have to try them all sometimes right?!
For my 3.5 year old, who has always refused to be wrapped, I prefer a toddler sized Soft Structured Carrier (SSC) and his favourite is our Toddler Tula Rockets.
But even these preferences have changed, when my bubba was teeny we did lots of wrapping, now I tend to mainly do that only when I’m at home..
Before we got our toddler tula, I preferred a Mei Tai with my eldest, a Kozy Carrier, for a really long time.. I have just added a toddler sized Mei Tai to the library so maybe that preference will change again…
When we go bush walking, I always go for a SSC, the buckles and straps are the most secure to me in those situations. And my of favourite brands of those continue to change and sometimes change back again!
The more and more I play, experiment and learn about babywearing, the more I am passionate about providing the opportunity for parents to try several options out before they buy to work out what is best for them.. There are also great Facebook groups, like NZ Babywearing Marketplace, which have over 12,000 members eager to share tips and thier experience. But again, remember, this is just their preference for their context and no two of those are going to be exactly alike…
But to me, nothing beats actually properly trying a carrier for a week or something, not just for a few minutes in the shop with limited range which is kind of the best case scenario in NZ at the moment, unless you go to a sling meet.
But as to how to answer ‘what is babywearing and how do you do it?’ in 150 words with one picture still totally alludes me and will continue to just sit there in the back of my mind for now…
If anyone has any tips on what I should highlight or what you would say in 150 words I’d love to hear them!