Sunday, August 1, 2010

Oh My Goodness, There's A Baby In There!

When Violet was a baby I got introduced to the whole attachment parenting idea.  I didn't immediately fall in love with all of the principles, but I dabbled a bit.  One of the principles recommends babywearing as a way to connect more with your baby.  We wore Mitchell in a backpack out in the Boundary Waters when he was six months old, but it wasn't a day-to-day kind of a thing.  Over the last three kids we have owned a Baby Bjorn and a woven Ellaroo wrap, besides the big hiking backpack.  I used them occasionally, but it always just seemed easier to have whichever baby it was in their baby bucket seat or to hold them.

When I found out with Violet that it was supposed to be pretty beneficial to them to be worn, I tried to wear her more, but she was pretty content just sitting in a highchair or bouncy seat so it didn't become a very high priority.  Besides, the Ellaroo was a pain to get on and off and the Bjorn hurt my back, so it was more of a chore to wear her, than a benefit to me.  I even bought one of those death bags that were supposed to be so great to see if that would work better, but that one hurt my shoulder and it seemed like Violet couldn't breathe very well in there so I quit using it.  I figured babywearing just wasn't for us.

But as Violet grew we started hanging out at a local mecca for urban hippies called The Parenting Oasis.  It seemed like everyone was wearing their baby, and it was so EASY for them!  The babies looked happy and comfortable (and breathing just fine) and the mamas were able to pop them in and out of their carriers with ease and no apparent back pain.  I became determined to figure out their secret.

After some research and impromptu surveys I figured out that my problem was bad products.  This time around I tried a Moby wrap and lo and behold, it worked!  It was kind of a pain to get on and off, but the beauty was that since it was stretchy, I could easily get Ivy in and out without taking the whole darn thing off.  The super wide shoulders not only made it very comfortable to wear, but a hidden benefit was that when she was out of it, it looked kind of like a funky shirt instead of an empty carrier, so I could just leave it on.  Another hidden benefit - it was so cozy that it was like a magical sleeping wrap.  As soon as I popped Ivy in it she would fall asleep within about five minutes and would sleep until I took her out.  This made trips to the grocery store with four kids a little less scary than it sounds.  Ivy would sleep the entire time in the wrap so it was like I was only taking three kids (which is still a daunting task in and of itself).

The Moby served us well in May and June, but July it was just too darn hot to be wrapping all that fabric around me every day.  I went looking for other options and found the adjustable Hotslings sling.  Another great find.  We use this one pretty much every single day lately.

Something that we did to try and encourage ourselves to wear her more was to outlaw the baby bucket.  We have been using the convertible Britax Marathon right from birth and skipping the infant seat altogether.  So when we get to our destination, we have to either carry Ivy in our arms or wear her, there's no temptation to just carry her around in the bucket instead.  Part of this was a conscious decision to try to offer her more stimulation, interaction, and bonding on a daily basis, and part of this was just the fact that for the life of me I can't find the base to the infant seat.  It is lost somewhere in the depths of my storage room (I think... but maybe I got rid of it?  But why would I do that?  I don't know...).  Another one of "the hidden benefits of disorder" (read it!).

All this babywearing has yielded some pretty interesting effects.  It seems like every where I go, there are twice as many people cooing and smiling at Ivy than ever interacted with my other children as infants.  Every store or place of business we go into, customers and staff are always saying "Oh my goodness - there's a baby in there!  Awwww, doesn't she look snug and cozy right there next to her mama."  I thought maybe Ivy was just exceptionally cute (but what mama doesn't think that?) but then the receptionist at the pediatrician's office said something that made me think.  She said "Oh how sweet!  What a cutie!  We never really get to see the babies because they are usually in their seat on the floor."

Wow - I was stunned.  They are receptionists at a PEDIATRICIAN'S OFFICE and they never really get to see babies?  But it makes sense.  You aren't supposed to put those buckets up on the counter, for safety, so people set them down on the floor.  All the babies get is a good view of everyone's ankles.  Ivy, on the other hand, up in her sling, gets to see everyone's faces, watch what i'm doing (she loves to watch me wash dishes from the sling - lots of clanking and splashing and movement), and interact with both me and whoever else may be around.

These days, when I see a baby at a store in a bucket it makes me sad.  I mean, mom probably puts the baby in the bucket at home, puts the bucket into the stroller or shopping cart when they get to their destination, maybe does the same at another store, then goes home and maybe even leaves the baby in the seat even longer if they are asleep.  The baby spends the whole morning getting little to no human touch or interaction unless they cry for it.  As I was walking into Chipotle yesterday with Ivy in the sling, I found myself kissing her head and patting her butt.  If she had been in a bucket, she certainly wouldn't have been getting that kind of interaction as I walked in the door.  It's little things like that that add up and I think are really great for her.

Don't get me wrong, i'm not judging the moms carry babies around in those buckets.  That was totally me three years ago.  I've done that hundreds of times without batting an eye.  But I feel like my eyes are open now and I would never go back.

P.S.  The Hotslings instructions says their product is also good for pets so OF COURSE I had to try it out on my furbaby lol - she likes it.

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