Before Violet was born I was already used to using the Baby Bjorn carrier. You know the one. It can be worn only on the front and the baby can face in our out. I had used it with my niece when I was a nanny to her for 5 months. I was comfortable with how it worked and how to get in and out of it. I also felt like it would be easy for my husband to use. So I registered for one and I got it. My husband practiced with a stuffed animal and by the time she was big enough to ride in it we were ready. After using it for a while though, I noticed how unnatural she looked in it. Something about the way her legs dangled below her and the majority of her weight being placed on her crotch area just didn’t seem right. I constantly worried about her hips and spine. I wanted her to be comfortable and also to be in a healthy position. This bothered me so I did more research.(If you want to know more about why this kind of carrier is not recommended read this). I never used a stroller so she was in a carrier a lot. Violet loved being carried. We did let her face out sometimes and I think she enjoyed seeing what was around her. I realize now though that she was most comfortable when she was facing in. She liked looking around and could do so easily but also she liked resting against our chests. Often times facing out can be over stimulating for small babies. I was really interested in trying a sling carrier. I worried though about how my shoulders and back would feel if we used a one shoulder style carrier. So I researched every carrier I could find on line. I finally settled on the Baby K’tan. (I want to say up front that I am not affiliated with Baby K’tan nor am I being paid to review it. I am just sharing my experience with the carrier in hopes that it will be of use to other parents).
The day it arrived in the mail I was all giddy like a child on Christmas morning. I couldn’t wait to open it up and try it on. I decided to try first with a doll to practice.Our daughter was still very tiny and I didn’t want to drop her or put her in a position that made it hard to breath. I watched the instructional video a few times and then tried it out. I’ll be honest, it took me a while to really figure it out. When I put Violet in she would cry and fling her arms and legs out. I felt like I was doing it wrong. I couldn’t get it to be comfortable for her or myself. I can’t say exactly how it happened but one day it finally clicked. I got her in (in the cradle position) and she fussed a little at first but then settled quietly against my body. I carried her like this every day until she could hold her head up and be held in the upright position. She looked like a caterpillar in a cocoon. It was so cute and so cozy looking. I was able to get her in and out of it with ease in the car too. I even managed to get her from her car seat and into the sling without waking her up on numerous occasions. The sling felt comfortable on my shoulders and my back felt fine too. I was so pleased with the sling that I ordered another one in pink. I needed a small until I lost some of the weight I had gained during pregnancy and then found that it was too loose to be comfortable unless I washed and dried it every day. It shrinks up a bit when you dry it but stretches out with the weight of the baby. So I ordered an x-small. It worked great! I carried this sling with me everywhere and she rode in it all the time. We even used it at home and I found that putting her in the sling (in the cradle position) and swaying back and forth was a great way to put her to sleep. I found that I could nurse her easily in the sling as well. Occasionally it offered my arms a break during long nursing sessions.
It was also great for the airplane. I could get her to sleep and then could fall asleep without worrying about dropping her. Her legs stayed curled up inside the sling and we both fit inside the seat with the armrests down. It worked perfectly when she was 3 months old, 21 months and I even used it the last time we went home when she was 34 months old. She was able to sleep sitting upright in it and her legs straddled my lap and her head rested against my chest. It worked better than trying to rock her to sleep and then move her to the car seat. I also carried her in it at 34 months old while in transit at the airport. I have traveled by myself 2 times now from Japan to the US. It is a long trip by myself but even more challenging with a child. She was very well behaved and is actually an excellent travel partner. She brings laughter and fun to all our adventures. I was not looking forward to keeping up with her in the airport while rolling suitcases and transporting the car seat though. I have figured out a good use for the stroller we were given. I strap the convertible car seat to it with a bungee cord and then put my carry-on bag inside the car seat and hang any other bags from the handles. Then I can push it through the airport from gate to gate. It actually works pretty well. I do get some looks/comments as to why I am not pushing my child in it though. It just works better this way. She is still willing (although not as much as she used to be) to get in her pouch and be carried through the airport. I suspect that next time she will want to walk on her own though. She only weighs 20 pounds and so she still fits in the carrier nicely. I got lots of comments about carrying such a “big baby” through the airport. Fortunately, most were nice and supportive comments. I was surprised at the kindness of strangers in my travels too. Lots of help for moms traveling alone.
I absolutely love baby/child wearing. It was such a joy to do when she was so tiny and it is still pleasurable now that she is a 3 year old. When she is feeling irritable, overly sleepy, or needs a little extra physical closeness, the sling is still very useful. She can still nurse inside it and when she falls asleep in it I can carry her without breaking my arms.
Baby wearing is a common practice in cultures all over the world. Here in Japan it is more common to wear the baby on your back. I did try this but found it uncomfortable and also I felt disconnected from her. So we always wear her in the front. Studies have shown that babies who are worn in the front and carried this way have higher vocabulary versus those pushed in a stroller. Violet is definitely proof of this. I carried her around from the time she was a newborn and still do. I felt that it helped me communicate with her better. She was always in my face (so to say) and therefore I was drawn to communicate with her as an equal.
Because she was at eye level, she was involved in the conversation, she was learning how to make sounds that mimicked the ones I was making by watching my mouth move and she learned one of the most important tools of communication, listening. I was constantly telling her where we were and what we were doing. Whether it be doing the wash, cutting vegetables, sweeping the floor or looking at our neighbors flowers. We were in constant communication. I remember so vividly the look in her eyes as she saw green leaves for the first time. Being born in October, she didn’t see green leaves until she was about 6 months old. Violet said her first word when she was 7 months old. She said “mama”. I know that ma is a common sound for babies to make, but
I could tell that she was saying mama and meaning me. It was on mother’s day too. Her next word was Dada and that was on Father’s day. Her next word came at 10 months old and it was hat. We went on walks everyday one in the morning and one in the afternoon. Every time we left the house I put on her bonnet and said “we can’t forget our hat.” The first time she said it back I was so tickled. I had just put her in the sling and she looked up at me and said “hat”. She knew the routine and wanted to remind me about her hat. It was so cute. After that came leaf but in Japanese “happa”. Her vocabulary grew so quickly that I couldn’t keep up with recording it. Her first sentence came at around 13 months old. My point is not to brag on my child but to show the benefits of baby wearing. Not all babies are the same and not all babies that are worn will speak early. But it definitely does aid in communication. It also keeps you in a constant state of awareness of your child’s needs and emotions. Which in return keeps you intimately connected.
“Environmental experiences stimulate nerves to branch out and connect with other nerves, which helps the brain grow and develop. Babywearing helps the infant’s developing brain make the right connections. Because baby is intimately involved in the mother and father’s world, she is exposed to, and participates in, the environmental stimuli that mother selects and is protected from those stimuli that bombard or overload her developing nervous system. She so intimately participates in what mother is doing that her developing brain stores a myriad of experiences, called patterns of behavior.” Dr. Sears
Often times, parents and caregivers who wear their babies notice that their baby cries less. I found that to be true for Violet. When I got used to the sling carrier, I wore her all the time. Around the house, on walks, on the train, in a restaurant, she was almost always tucked inside her little pouch. I found that she seemed more content close to my body.
I am not judging those who choose to use a stroller just offering up my experience with how great baby wearing can be. If you have never tried wearing your baby, start slowly. Just for a little while at a time. You may find that you enjoy have your arms free to do things that you were missing, like eating, drinking, scratching the itch on your nose that has been irritating you but you won’t dare shift for fear of waking the baby. 🙂
Do you wear your baby? If so, what kind of carrier do you use? What are some of your favorite baby wearing memories?
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