I was asked to write about one subject: babywearing. Easy, right? Since I love it so much and am so passionately involved in the education, safety, implementation and access to this thing called babywearing, this piece should be a cake walk….
Oh, but no. I was so very wrong. Babywearing is so much more than a topic to write on. It is a tradition, pastime, public health intervention, hobby, inter-cultural bridge, and a necessity. Babywearing is the act of tethering a small human to a caregiver’s body. It provides warmth, safety, and sometimes food for the child. In turn, said caregiver can be calmed in knowing where baby is, hands free to complete necessary tasks, and feel invincible because “ain’t no baby holding me back!”
The health benefits have been proved through the study of KangarooCare in the NICU where babywearing is shown to help infants regulate body temperature and breathing, increase growth and weight gain, and cry less, thus not wasting precious energy. These benefits do not go away when baby hits a certain age or weight. A toddler with a stomach bug or head cold will still be as clingy as a newborn to help heal themselves. Thankfully, there is a “wrap” for that! Bonding with baby is easy and hands free when using a carrier, and bonding with other caregivers is also easier when you are using a carrier!
It is one of very few things that are well marked in the parenting world that can immediately tell you if the mama next to you is “into” the same things as you! Instant ice breaker, and a hobbiest of babywearing (even if said babies are now in college) can always join in the conversation and even enhance it with their many years of knowledge! Just like caregivers of different age groups can find common ground within babywearing, different cultures can too. Many of the carriers of today are derived and pay homage to carriers from other countries, cultures, and time periods outside of Little Rhody and the United States. It is our job to know and respect these cultures in order to properly thank them for such an important parenting tradition we use today! For as long as there have been babies there has been a need to keep them safe, warm, and content, meaning babywearing also happens out of necessity.
I started wearing when I had my second child. My husband had to work the shift opposite mine so we could share childcare and I knew I had to find a way to accomplish daily tasks with a 3 year old and a newborn. In 2014 I opened a little black bag with a long piece of stretchy black fabric in it, tied my baby to my chest and never looked back! Now I am a co-leader to Rhode Island’s Babywearing group KangaMamas RI, Babywearing educator for Our Journ3i Wellness Center and Chocolate Milk Cafe RI and I have started my own program Carrier Connections RI to provide free carriers to families interested in babywearing. When I needed help, I found a whole community of babywearers ready to assist me, now I aim to bring babywearing back to my community.