It’s European Babywearing Week. A time set aside to celebrate babywearing. Why are we celebrating? Because, babywearing is so much more than just a transport option, an alternative to a buggy…
Babywearing is communication. By cuddling our children to sleep, or wrapping them up and rocking them when the feel poorly; lifting a big kid up onto your back so they can have a rest on a long walk, it is all communication. It is saying to your children “I’m here for you, my arms are ready for you.” Babywearing communicates to the rest of the family that we are a team, we lift each other up when we need it and that hugs are good, useful and necessary. It communicates to the rest of the world that our children matter, that they need love and affection and they are absolutely the centre of what we do.
Babywearing is connection. Cradling your baby close to your heart, snuggling your toddler against your back, holding your baby on your hip so she can see the world keeps you connected. Life is frantic and busy, there is always something to do. There have been days when I finally get to look into the faces of my children and just want to say to them, “I’m so sorry I haven’t even looked at you properly today.” (possibly because they’ve gone to school in a grubby jumper). Babywearing offers a chance to be connected or reconnect.
Babywearing is useful and practical. My slings are the most useful parenting gadgets I own. I simply wouldn’t function without babywearing. I can continue with the care for my family with my baby securely attached to me. I can walk the dogs, do the food shopping, sweep the floor. And more than just the mundane jobs I need to do, we have a huge and wonderful movement of babywearers donating slings and carriers to refuges who NEED to carry their children to safety. Babywearing is literally saving lives and making the most difficult situations more practically manageable.
Babywearing is a parenting tool. There are so many situations in family life that a sling can be a really useful parenting tool. All those times you need your hands free. All those times when baby needs settling. Kangaroo care for premature babies has utterly amazing results. It helps bonding, establishing breastfeeding, it can help the transition from one child to two easier…the list goes on…
Babywearing is good for our children. Physically, it is good. By babywearing we can be respectfully engaging muscle groups. We can be encouraging neck and head strength. We are engaging the vestibular system. We are protecting the healthy hip development. We are keeping them upright, with no hard pressure on the still-developing skull. It is good especially for those babies who suffer from reflux. It calms a baby, which lowers blood pressure, reduces cortisol and babies cry significantly less when being worn, releasing oxytocin and endorphins.
Babywearing is good for us. That close physical contact with our children is great for us too. When a baby is crying the stress hormone is high in us too. When they are held close and content, oxytocin and endorphins are there for us as well. It is a way of knowing that your baby is settled, happy, safe.
Babywearing is a way of parenting when there is nothing left to give. There are days when you are frazzled, exhausted, touched out. Days when you have no more energy, your cup is completely empty. One of the hardest things about parenting for me is realising that on those I still must carry on. I must find a way of making it through. Babywearing helps me on those days, knowing that I can still offer my baby or big kid comfort, reassurance, and time with me by holding my child in a sling, is seriously helpful.
Babywearing is a community. I will be forever grateful for the amazing friends I have made through the babywearing world. Both online and in real life, there is a community of parents who just want to hold their babies close and want to support one another in doing so.
Babywearing could save the world…well maybe not directly. But in babywearing, and responsive parenting we are laying foundations of love, affection, less stress, communication… This is what you are setting up for your children. We all want a world full of those things. And that’s why I’m celebrating Babywearing this week.