Since becoming a mom five years ago, I have spent endless hours reading, researching and connecting with other moms. I have worked to “master” many new skills and refine my craft. One of the talents I really wanted to develop was becoming a proficient “babywearer”. I quickly found out that this new skill, like any, would require practice, practice, trial and error and more practice.
I watched youtube tutorials, joined a few online communities and even attended some baby wearing meet ups for our local group. Even after all this, I know for certain that there were times in my early days that I just did not do it right. However, not once was I ever approached or given feedback when I was out and about. I like to think that I am open-minded and that I would have welcomed the feedback from another mama.
We probably have all seen it; a caregiver with their baby in some type of baby wearing contraption and it just does not look right! Probably most of us just smile and keep going about our business. But what if that awkward position is actually causing harm to baby? Aren’t we doing our fellow mamas a disservice if we don’t offer up some the knowledge that we have obtained through our own struggles?
Today I’m going to try to provide a few practical tips that could help you approach the caregiver and start a dialogue, hopefully leading to an improved position, safety and comfort for all. Keep in mind that you want to be “hands off” unless you are invited to physically help. No mama likes it when a stranger grabs, touches or leers at their baby!
1. Everyone loves a compliment. Open the conversation with something like:
“Hi! That is such a beautiful wrap you have your baby in.”
“Hi there, I have really loved getting into babywearing with my children too.”
“Babywearing is so awesome isn’t it? I love the colour you chose for your carrier.”
2. Softly share your concern, and try to relate if possible. This is where most of us start to feel uncomfortable, it’s probably the whole “mama bear” idea that worries us. This next step could look like:
“How are you feeling about that sling, are you comfortable?”
“How is your baby enjoying being in the carrier?”
“ I found wraps so challenging, I notice your little guys legs there…”
3. Share what you know (and you suspect they don’t)
“It took me a long time to get comfortable wrapping, would you mind if I gave you a couple tips that I found really helpful/will make it easier for you/more comfortable?”
“ When I was new to babywearing I got a lot of help from some awesome mamas, would you mind if I shared a tip with you?”
4. Can you help them more? Many communities have babywearing meet up groups, or online groups, or maybe you’ve fallen in love with a certain mama’s youtube channel that’s chalked full of tutorials. Let the caregiver in on what you have found helpful!
When it comes to babywearing there are some simple basics that really need to be entrenched in our knowledge. “Visible and Kissable” is one of them. You always want to be able to see your baby’s face AND you should easily be able to kiss them. That means you don’t have to lift them up, or crook your neck way down. They should be high enough on your chest that frequent kisses are easily delivered!
Another simple way to keep things in check is the babywearing ABC’s:
Airway, body position, comfort
Airway: You should be able to put two fingers under baby’s chin, ensuring it is not tucked against baby’s chest.
Body position: Your carrier should be the appropriate fit for your child’s size, ability and control over neck and trunk. Baby should be upright and not slumped down. Generally knees should be higher than bum and weight distributed across their bum and thighs.
Comfort: Both you and your baby should be comfortably. Some babies just don’t like certain carriers, but trying more than once is important as they may just be having a bad day, or not too sure of this new exciting world just yet!
To wrap things up I will leave you, by following my own advice: a fantastic resource for sharing. The Babywearing International website is a site I have returned to again and again. Here a variety of carriers and positions are covered for newborns through toddlers.