What’s Baby Wearing?
It is exactly that, carrying an infant, typically holding him on your chest or back. The ways to do that come in a very wide range of accessories (some more fashionable than others). There are the popular Baby Bjorn, Ergo Baby, Moby, Slings that can be wrapped around, ring slings (they come in every imaginable print to match your outfit), pouch slings and the list is almost endless. So do your research to make sure the one(s) you choose is safe for your little bundle of joy (you don’t want to pick one that has been recalled and hasn’t been fixed). Also, keep in mind not all carriers fit all sizes so if you will be carrying a premature newborn the carrier you pick should be different than the one you’ll wear when that same baby is a robust 7 months old.
Where does Baby Wearing come from?
This has been actually practiced by different cultures all around the world as the way they have transported their babies for centuries. Although, some cultures might seem to have just discovered it in the recent decades while following the Attachment Parenting Philosophy that Dr Sears, among others, have made so popular.
At this point I would like to tell you a little anecdote about my first encounter with Baby Wearing.
It happened when I was around 6 years old and on a trip to Peru and Bolivia with my mom (who was coincidentally a former nurse that worked many years in a NICU). I too was just a young child at the time I first saw women carrying their infants wrapped around their bodies. I noticed it was so different than the way babies seemed to be handled back home in Chile, where babies are usually close to their mothers for breastfeeding, soothing and cuddling but at the same time, they are raised very independently. They are put to sleep in their mosses, basinets, cradles or cribs from the moment they come home from the hospital and very often in their own nurseries from that moment on. Back home babies are also out in their strollers and I really have no memory whatsoever of seeing any family member carrying their baby around in their arms unless they were soothing them. So I was both amazed and entertained at the view of all these moms that seemed to do their own thing while carrying their infants wrapped around their bodies.
Now, maybe because the way and where I grew up, Baby Wearing has never felt natural to me. However, I can see how beneficial it is for both the mother or caregiver and the infant. I’ve tried it and do believe that it is our job to be flexible and willing to accommodate ourselves to do what it is better for our charges. The body produces higher levels of Oxytocin when it has such close proximity with the infant. That in turn helps immensely in fighting Post Partum Depression, facilitates breastfeeding, better regulates the body temperature and breathing, helps strengthen the bond and muscle tone, and much more. This magical healing happens all the time in hospitals that encourage Kangaroo Care and I wish more hospitals would allow new moms to spend longer hours in direct contact with their newborns (of course, there are unfortunately cases when that is medically restricted).
We, as Nannies and NCS’s, can benefit from wearing our charges as we are helping them to trust us, to bond with us and as a result, they stay calmer longer, with a better body temperature and breathing rythm. I feel that, particularly when caring for newborns, it is such a beautiful gift that I forget about my own preferences so I just go ahead and wear those tiny, precious babies to make them feel secure, loved and nurtured.
I, however, am not pro-Baby Wearing after much longer than the first 3 months of an infant’s life. I respect babies enough to treat them as individuals from the very beginning. I have worked with many infants over the years and some I have continued to see for years after they were in my care. I have to honestly say that I have yet to meet children that grow to be happy, well adjusted toddlers after being constantly attached to their caregivers. From what I have seen (here you are welcome to disagree and give your own opinion), babies that are raised in a non-Attachment Parenting Philosophy stay happier longer as they are much more independent and able to adjust to new and always changing environments and caregivers. This is something I consider a priority, children will suffer less stress and anxiety when starting school if they are actually able to entertain themselves without demanding constant exclusive attention. They should know how to trust their caregivers without the constant need to have them right by their side.
So here is the challenge we encounter: Baby Wearing? Yes! It is indeed the best thing you can do for your infant charges. Remember we, nannies, are the ones parents trust to teach their precious little ones the tools they will hopefully treasure for the rest of their lives. With that in mind, we should also be able to take advantage of both worlds… meaning we give children their freedom once they are ready even if we are not and we teach them it is ok to go ahead and explore the world independently, but know we are still there when they need us.
In conclusion, Baby Wearing during a child’s infant development is a tool that we can use to take advantage of its wonderful benefits and its convenience when we need to get some other things done, such as taking care of an older child while still being able to comfort our tiny one. It is a skill, and as many others, it can be developed and adjusted to better suit particular needs. I believe there is no right or wrong as we can work through it just like we do in other situations that might not be our first choice. We do it as an act of love and to show we are flexible and open to the particular preferences of the families and charges we work with.
[author image=”http://sittercycle.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/IMG_9820-225×300.jpg” ]Angelita Fechino was born and raised in Chile and attended College in Chile while working in Hospitality and got a degree in Foreign Language Education and Translation in 2001. She also took Business Administration Classes for a year while she was working as Translator and Management Assistant in the Mining Industry.
She discovered her deep respect and love for children and decided to move to the US to pursue a professional career as an Newborn and Infant Nanny. She had the chance to work with two newborns into toddlerhood before moving and that confirmed to her that it was indeed the most rewarding career choice.
She moved to the US in 2007 and worked as a Hotel Overnight Manager five nights a week for a year and a half, during the days she nannied to gain more childcare experience, and on the weekends Angelita nannied for a toddler and infant. She did this until she was able to leave the Hotel to focus on her true passion.
She has been working with mostly babies from 0 to 1 for 10 years now and continues studying to better her skills, taking several classes in Newborn Care and constantly attending Nanny Seminars, Workshops and Conferences. Currently Angelita works as a NCS, infant nanny, and New Mommy Consultant/Educator, while preparing to train as a Postpartum Doula.