by Jennifer VanLaanen-Smit
Probably the most important need of a newborn after good breast milk is constant contact with mom. Babies need to be held,
for they are completely helpless and also express perfect contentment when they are cuddled close to mom.
I prefer sling carriers to front or back
carriers as your babyís spine is not strong enough to be in the upright position until he can sit up by herself, even after that I like to relieve the strain on his back by using the sling. The cradle position is soothing, mimicking the womb. Another advantage to a sling is slips easily over your head, with no snaps or buckles, allowing you to use it off and on throughout the day. When your baby falls asleep in the sling you can gently ease the sling onto the bed, maneuvering him from your body to the car seat is easy too, there is no need to take him out of the sling, just slip him, sling and all, into the seat, and buckle him in around the sling (this works best with unpadded slings). To take him out of the car seat, just put the sling back over your head to your shoulder and gently lift.
It is easy to breastfeed your baby in a sling, allowing you to nurse discreetly, hands-free.
I keep my baby next to me, nursing on demand, slinging my baby by my side while he sleeps during the day, sleeping next to him at night (or him on my chest), even carrying him with me and nesting him between my knees as I do tasks during the day. When my babies start to wriggle down to try crawling around, I let them. But when they are tired, hungry, or hurt, they make their way back to me to be held.
One of my favorite reasons to wear my baby is that other people wonít ask to hold him. I feel that part of our bonding is in him feeling secure and trusting me, when my child is old enough to decide he wants to go to the librarian, produce man, my friend, or whoever, it will be her decision when she is comfortable enough to do so or not.
And I never feel worried that my baby will be stolen. Unfortunately this is happening more and more nowadays.
It is also wonderful to be able to hold my two older childrenís hands as we walk in town, cross streets and just enjoy ourselves, while my baby is close to my body in my sling. It is much easier to walk with my baby in my sling than it is to maneuver a stroller or carry a plastic baby carrier through crowds of people, up stairs, over curbs, in doorways, through isles, etc.
Jean Liedloff in her book The Continuum Concept- goes into baby wearing in much greater detail, than I do here. Although I cannot quite agree with Liedloff --"Baby care is a nothing to do"-- because cutting carrots, scrubbing a floor, and carrying a hot pot are all very much complicated by having a baby in your arms. I still find the investment in my little one worth it, and I recommend the practice to all new mothers.
When you consider that our cuddly new baby will only live in your arms 6-9 months, carrying him does not seem so interminable. You can share the cuddling with siblings and your partner.
I use sling carriers and just my arms to hold my little one close. I believe in the tribal saying that the first 9 months outside of mom the baby is still connected to her and needs to be close to her during this time. This constant contact nourishes the baby . . . and the mother.
I ran into a friend whose second child is now 14 months old. I recalled that when her child was an infant, I told her that when he turned a year old things would get easier for her. I thought about that comment today. And I understand why I said that more vividly now that I have my third child. It is because I parent in-arms. Things are more difficult to do; I do things slower with a baby strapped on me or in my arms. When the baby starts walking and is not held as much, it is amazing how much I can accomplish, how quick I can be. It is a challenge to chop up fruit or vegetables with a baby grabbing for the knife, their arms have a huge span as they knock bowls of salad off the table, spill glasses of water, grab the books off the shelf as you walk by, grab the bag as you try to stuff tomatoes in it at the store, etc. I laugh when it happens; it is all you can do. They never mean any harm, they are so very curious is all. And once the baby can walk, I find things are a lot easier, and get ready for the new challenges and adventures, such as wandering off in the store. At least this time I will have two other pairs of eyes and arms to help me.
I do cherish my in-arms time even if it does make me go slower and it isn't as easy. But it is worth it! I love, absolutely love having my baby next to me. I feel naked without him there. We are still attached with the invisible umbilical cord. And wearing my baby reminds me of my priorities and what really is important day-to-day, minute-by-minute- I stop rushing, slow down and see more- feel more. It is very Zen. These gentle souls are important, my laundry can wait.
My babies can see the world with the safety and closeness of being in my arms, and they can see everything at adult level, not down low to the floor staring at knees and feet and being pushed into them as they sit in a stroller. What would you prefer? Plus the added bonus of not needing to find space for my stroller to park it or maneuver it around, the stairs are not daunting and my sling is light and easy to bring every where we go: to the beach, the mall, on boats, historical places, hiking, picnics, grocery shopping, farmer's markets, swap meets, historical landmarks, playgrounds, and the like. I always keep a sling in the car and one in the house.
With a sling, you can carry your child easily up to three years of age and longer if your child isnít too heavy for you. Slings are easy to fold and carry with you and to keep in the car and/or diaper bag. When you go on an outing where you will be walking for some time, keep the sling handy and give your childís legs a break every now and then. Your child can just sit in the side-hip position or be on your back. Think of baby wearing as part of your exercise regimen. They can even fall asleep on you and it is not so burdensome to carry them. With older toddlers we have used ours for times when we are waiting for our luggage at the airport, hiking, walking throughout the zoo, shopping at the mall or at craft fairs, going to carnivals, exploring museums, long walks on the beach, etc.
started, put the sling on and then cradle your baby in your arm, put your
babies bottom in the sling first, then her feet, then her upper body and
head. As soon as your baby is in the sling- start walking. The movement will
help her get used to being in it.