Some common questions I hear from parents reticent about babywearing include safety worries, concerns about their child’s development, and perception issues.
Babywearing is awesome. Being able to let your kid snuggle into your chest, or wear them like a rucksack, while you get on with other stuff, is really important for lazy parenting.
Although in some cultures it’s considered the norm, in mine – and maybe yours – people are still nervous about it. Here’s the truth about some common worries people have.
Is it safe?
Like almost everything you buy for your baby, you must must must use a sling according to guidelines. Babies have died in slings, and it always gets a lot of attention in the media, and that’s a terrible thing to happen. Always follow the TICKS guidelines for safe babywearing – you’ll be a lot comfier, too. Qualified sling consultants can even provide one-to-one consultations.
Whilst randomly falling over in the street is pretty rare (maybe avoid wearing a baby and high stilettos), your instincts kick in if you do. I’ve fallen flat on my face in the mud with my baby on my back, and she thought it was hilarious. I’ve heard similar stories from other babywearers.
Am I strong enough?
Babywearing from day one is like a graduated weight training programme. You get used to the added weight as they grow. And safe babywearing is a great way to carry that extra weight – one way or another you’ll be carrying your baby a lot. Using a sling is like putting your shopping in a rucksack instead of carrying it in little bags over your arms.
Am I/my baby is the right size/shape?
Yes. You just need the wrong sling; or learn to wear it right. Woven wraps need to be the right size – their length varies depending on the size of the babywearer. Mei teis and buckle wraps etc have adjustable straps.
If you have an impairment in your arms, you might have trouble securing the wrap – I struggled when I dislocated my finger – and I suspect buckle wraps would probably work better in this situation. Talk to a sling consultant if you’re not sure of the best approach. For any other kind of physical impairment, babywearing is likely to be easier than pushing a pram. I suffered from a lot of mobility problems after slipping a disc in my back when my baby was three weeks old, and carrying my baby in a sling was much better for me than pushing the weight of a buggy – and I could use a crutch at the same time.
(Do always seek advice for your personal situation though – I’m not a doctor)
Will my child still learn to walk?
Yes. Carrying your baby won’t impede their ability to walk any more than pushing them around in a buggy will. Lots of anecdotal evidence suggests that the opposite is true.
They’ll walk when they’re ready.
What if I look like a great big hippy?
Get over it.
Seriously. Some people will welcome looking like a hippy, but if you don’t; get over it. If this parenting lark is going to pan out, especially if you’re planning to be a lazy parent, you have to stop giving a rat’s bottom about what other people think.