Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Better than Bling

(Squiggle Bug babywears Raffie)

I wear my baby. And my toddler. I'm a babywearing mama. No matter my outfit, they match. The perfect accessory, they go with blue jeans, silk skirts, and t-shirts and vintage jackets. Better than bling, they boldly proclaim my status to the world: I AM A MOM!

(Smunchie- 4 weeks and Squiggle Bug- 2 years, on me, iPhone pic by The Storyteller)

Because people couldn't already tell I'm a mom. Ok, so I don't babywear to look cool or make sure my status as MOM is known. I'm pretty sure that could be made clear with the constant spit-up decoration on my shoulder, the massive diaper bag and the fact that I have 5 small people running around regularly calling me "Mommy!" apparently just so they can declare who I am to the entire world. Not because they actually have anything to say. Make it 4, Smunchie isn't talking yet. I can't even imagine what it will be like with one more, children have an amazing ability to increase volume exponentially.

(Lolie wears her new baby in a kid tai by Sweet Slings)

No, I wear my babies for other reasons than making a fashion statement. Though babywearing does kind of save me from having to worry about fashion, nobody can tell what I'm wearing when there is a super sweet jelly kid on my back or front. In fact, people almost don't notice me, just the tiny people that seemed to sprout extra long legs and a head. I put my babies in slings, wraps, Mei Tais, and soft structured carriers for far greater reasons than fashion. I didn't have a kid (or 5) so I could look cool, even though I do.

I wear them for convenience. I mean, gosh, I need my arms, I can't stand around holding a kid all day. Sheesh.

(Multi-tasking, building an art piece while wearing and nursing Smunchie)

Alright, that's actually true but that isn't the only reason any more. It started out that way, to be sure and I don't think there is anything wrong with that. I have times when I wrap a little one on me so I can actually get the dishes done, vacuum the carpet (mom, stop laughing, I do vacuum... sometimes), or have a phone conversation but I keep my babies tied to my body with strips of fabric so I can be close to them and they can be close to me. There was a time when I bought the idea that we needed to make our little people as independent as possible from the get-go but over time and over the course of my parenting experiences, I don't feel that way any more. I actually think it is a good thing if my baby is attached to me and I am attached to them.

(My view of Smunchie in the wrap, iPhone pic)

However, I don't call myself an Attachment Parent-er. Or whatever. I don't like labels. I have a a label phobia. I'm label-phobic. Oh crap, now I'm labeled again! Gah. Anyway, there are principles of Attachment Parenting I love, The Piano Man and I do a lot of them instinctively but still we don't consider ourselves AP. It probably really does just go back to the label thing. We choose to wear our babies because though we started doing it for convenience reasons we noticed a few things about babywearing. For starters, we just like having them close, it feels good to them and to us. The stroller started to seem like a pain in the rear compared to the sling. Our babies were way happier on us than anywhere else. The easiest way to sooth an upset baby that didn't need to nurse was to wrap her close to us. On cold days it was so cozy and we could know she was ok. We felt like we didn't miss anything, smiles, talking, observing, all of it was right there. When we started thinking about it, it just seemed more pleasant for our baby to be up close to us being able to see what was going on around them clearly. I noticed that I talk to my babies more, interact with them more when they are on me and yes, talk to, not at. And the big one was just the contact, it seemed like an easier transition to go from the womb, to being snuggled up in a wrap, to hanging out on mommy or daddy's back, and then exploring the world, knowing they can come back when they need to.

(The Piano Man wears Squiggle Bug on a bike ride in a Beco)

So we are big time babywearers now. There has been some concern about babywearing safety lately, this post isn't about that though but check out some of these hyperlinks. We don't use the types of carriers that were recently recalled, we prefer wraps, ring slings, soft structure carriers, and Mai Teis. If you are a babywearing mama or daddy, check out my friend Shanna's blog for ideas on how to respond to the inevitable "you know those things kills babies, right?" concern you'll get now. I'm not in a hurry for my babies to grow up and not need me any more, most parents aren't. Ok, sometimes I am but those come from a place of feeling overwhelmed and tired. But most of the time, I'm trying to savor the moments because I know they go by all too quickly. What better way to do that than to have my baby on me for as long as we can?

ETA: There is a babywearing safety workshop this Saturday for Houston families. Facebook event link and the vital info:
Sling Safety Workshop
Saturday, April 10, 2010
12:30pm - 1:30pm
3701 West Alabama Street

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  1. AMEN!!! I started wearing my little one because I had no clue how I would push him in a stroller and keep an eye on the 4 year old too. Now, I LOVE wearing him whenever we are out anywhere. I don't do it much in the house because he likes to roam around now, but I have started wearing him when he comes to work with me. I LOVE baby wearing but feel like I'm far from being AP!

  2. The photo of you multi-tasking while nursing is classic. Love it!
    Fortunately my babies ar almost as tall as me now and I no longer have to wear them, but I do miss it some.

  3. Um, you've totally given me a new appreciation for power tools and nursing!

    I think you've just earned your 'Hardcore Mother of the Year' award =)

    Thanks for stopping by my blog and sharing some comment love! Can't wait to read more about your multi tasking!

  4. I love the "jelly kid" mention ;0)

  5. Kristen, I have a whole blog post about jelly kids in mind. Some day I'll actually write it and I'll be mentioning you. Though I'm sure you don't have a jelly kid, lol!

  6. Shared your pics with my hubby. He says you are hard core and "You go girl". :) I have been trying to figure out how to carry both of my boys with my bad back. I used to carry three but now can barely do these two. Kuddos to you for doing it, nursing AND using power tools! :P You just became one of my heroes!!! :) BTW I have NOT figured out how to nurse in a sling or backpack yet :( Even with baby # 6 I still don't have it figured out :( I envy you who has it down so very well! :)

  7. I'm so not hardcore, lol! I'm really more of a coffee drinking, chocolate girl but once in a while a power tool is required. The sound of the drill and hammering (very large nails) never bothered her, she nursed and slept in the mai tei the entire time.

    As for nursing, I haven't figured out how to nurse on my back either. ;) Sorry, I know that's not what you meant, just thought it read funny, lol! Smunchie doesn't nurse so well in the wrap for some reason, I have a hard time positioning her but the mai tei works for us. Funny thing is, it never worked for Squiggle Bug but she nursed in the wrap and the ring sling all the time. I think sometimes it depends on the baby. Does it get easier for you as they get a little bigger? I'll have to think about it and see if I can describe or video what I do to share with you.

    Thanks for the comments!

  8. I love the picture of your adorable baby while you are wearing him. Mine is 4 now and I wish I did this more, so sweet.

  9. I am visiting from SITS and am a fellow babywearer! I am trying to get the hang over wearing a toddler though! I would love to invest in a Beco in the near future! Thanks for putting so much wonderful information out there!

  10. Thanks for stopping by Jamee! Toddler wearing is certainly a challenge but worth-while for sure. It doesn't really bother my back or anything it is the up-down, up-down thing that makes me a little crazy. She loves it though and it is still the best way to sooth her. For toddler wearing I highly recommend a Becco or Ergo. I don't wear her in anything else any more though if I had a woven wrap I think that would work too. Hope you it gets smoother for you!

    London, we love wearing our babies and wish I had done it more with my big girls too. Back then all I had was a Snuggli and it hurt and just wasn't enjoyable. If I had known then what I know now... :)

  11. I LOVE the pictures! Totally agree with everything! That first picture of you, are you wearing 2 wraps? Or is it one? It looks like a moby with a mai tai in front? I don't know, either way that picture is awesome! I'm too chubby to wear the wrap more than 1 way. ROFL

    I live for my ring sling. And thank you for the reminder. I need to get that out for the soccer game today. So much easier than lugging the stroller around and my 1 year old doesn't scream in it like he does the stroller. He wants to walk when he's in the stroller but he's up for baby wearing any time. :) Great post!!

    Stopping by from SITS!

  12. I wore mine too and I wouldnt have changed it for anything. I adore the photo of you with the carrier and the power tool. Vintage!

  13. You are my kinda lady, drill in hand with a baby strapped to your front.

  14. Ok, even though I actually have to approve comments (yeah, I know, moderation is annoying), I somehow missed your comments, Heather and Lizzie. Sorry about that.

    Heather, in answer to your question, I have Smunchie in a mai tei on my front and Squiggle Bug in a Becco on my back. Works great. I agree, so much easier to pack a carrier than to deal with a stroller.

    I think the photo of me wearing a baby using a drill is pretty cool too. Wonder what Smunchie will think when she's older.