Babywearing is a term used to describe carrying a baby close to you in a soft sling or structured carrier. It was something I had always planned to do, but how much I actually ended up doing it definitely surprised me. Before having kids, I really thought all babies liked going out in prams. Surprise, surprise! Some don't. Mine definitely doesn't. We have always gotten about carrying her in arms or in a carrier. A lot of people use ring slings with their babies but Miss A put on weight so quickly that for us, it was the Ergo carrier (a soft structured carrier) that was essential. You can get an infant insert for it for young babies. You can also get wraps (like the Hug-a-Bub) that are long pieces of cloth that you tie around baby a specific way, but I personally found them way too fiddly to use all the time.
Miss A at about 2.5 months in the Ergo
Also, something new mothers are not told enough is how much babies don't like to sleep on their own. They really don't! Imagine that you spend 9 months in the womb all warm and snug then suddenly you're ejected into a cold world and expected to sleep on your own in a still, big space…of course you will be crying to cuddle up to a familiar warm body! For the first few weeks, Miss A spent most of her sleeps on top of me. After a while, she started sleeping in her own bassinet/crib at night, but still needed to be held for naps. It might shock you to know that we held and wore her for naps for 11 out of 12 months of her life. For us, it was what worked. She was a little difficult when younger and babywearing her helped calmed her and ensured she had wonderful sleep without having to battle her to sleep in her own crib. It was tiring at times, but it did help us survive early parenthood.
Babywearing is extremely normal and natural. I know modern society makes you believe that babies should be independent at a young age, but if you take a look at primitive societies- people hold their babies, sling them, and co-sleep all the time. It goes against our natural instincts to not have baby close at all times because if we were in the wild, this would spell certain death for baby. Having baby close to mother at all times also helps foster a great on-demand breastfeeding relationship. And contrary to popular belief, you cannot spoil a baby. Holding a baby and letting them know you are there for them at all times does not create needy children. In fact, it makes them feel secure that you are always there if they need you and thus gives them more confidence to explore the world on their own.
Not to mention, wearing your baby around is quite convenient in that you can easily weave in and out of crowds and don't have to look for lifts to go up and down in shopping centers (as you have to do with a pram). It's also great to have a baby who is used to napping in a sling or carrier as it means they are pretty good at napping on the go and you don't need to rush home to put them down in their crib.
I would be lying though if I said carrying a baby all the time didn't get a bit physically and emotionally draining at times. You will also inevitably cop a lot of flak from friends and family for it. A lot of people told V and I that we were spoiling Miss A, that she "will get used to it" and need to be held even when older (to which I'd say "So? I will happily hold her even if she's 2 years old) and some even thought we were purposely making life difficult for ourselves. I am quite blessed that V and I have a wonderful relationship and really support each other in our parenting roles. We knew we were doing the right thing for our child and that's all that mattered. Miss A slept beautifully close to us and it really helped us survive her grizzly periods. I knew that even though this time felt like forever, I will look back one day and feel it has been a very short time. All babies do things in their own time and I did not want to force her to be independent before her time. I am in the camp that believes it is perfectly natural to parent a baby to sleep for an extended time. And so we held her until at 11 months, she decided on her own that she no longer wanted to be held for naps. Suddenly, she went from wanting to be held to being perfectly happy napping on her in her crib. It was a beautiful, non-traumatic event…and I do look back fondly on the times we held her, as hard as it was.
Miss A is a year old now and growing up too fast. Of course she still needs cuddles or to be carried and rocked to sleep every now and then, but she no longer likes sleeping on top of us or being confined in a carrier. If you are a new parent, I would encourage you to hold your baby as much as possible- no matter what anyone says. Some babies may be happy to sit in prams or put themselves to sleep in their own crib at a young age, but if yours doesn't and you feel you do not want to force them to "learn to be independent", then please don't. Lots of people will tell you not to, but no one knows your child like you do. Listen to your natural parent instincts. If you have a particularly grizzly baby, babywearing can definitely help pacify them. Held babies are secure babies. So hold them, cuddle them, and love them as much as you want. One day they will grow up and not need you anymore. Hug them while you can. Happy babywearing! 🙂