Born to be worn

As I mentioned in my blogpost “The first three months – what you really need”, there are several ways to take your baby for walks.
You will see women pushing the pram all the time, but every now and then there will be a woman (or man) carrying the baby in either a baby sling or a specially designed carrier.
I am one of those.

Ostsee June 2014 (Photo credit Mr. Loca)

So if you ever wondered why on earth someone would burden herself with carrying around the baby, keep reading and feel free to ask unanswered questions in the comments.

Whenever I talk about motherhood, I include a disclaimer:
This is just what I chose to do with my firstborn. It may not work for you, and it may not even work for me if I have another child.
It is by no means the “right” or “only” way to do it.
It is just the way I did it, and my experiences.

Baby slings or carriers have been around for a long time. In fact, they have been around much longer than the pram, which was invented in the beginning of the 19th century in the UK, where taking the baby for walks first got into fashion among the upper class.
Before that, children were carried or put into the pushcart with the vegetables.

There has been a lot of research on carrying, mostly regarding mentally disabled children. It is therefore important to notice that the findings can not be easily transferred to completely healthy children.

Carrying your baby is said to train the sense of balance (helping with motor abilities later in life), strengthen the bond between parent and child and support the correct development of hip and spine. Apart from that, claims are that carried children grow up to be more intelligent, have more self-esteem and confidence. These claims lack scientific evidence, as they are incredibly hard to measure.

As mentioned before, there is only evidence for improved development in disabled children, as this is the main topic of research.
So if your child is perfectly healthy, why should you bother?

Firstly, because carrying your newborn is a wonderful thing.
Holding your sleeping baby in your arms is a blessing. But your arms will tire eventually, and after the first days of admiring the babys features, you may want to use your hands for something else. Doing the dishes, painting your nails, reading a book, whatever.
When you wrap her in a sling, she will be there, nestled against your chest, while you go on doing what you want to do, still smelling her, feeling her warmth and the beat of her heart.

Second, because bonding is important.
Keep your baby close to your heart, let her feel you and smell you, so she feels safe after suddenly being expelled from the warmth of your womb to the outside world.
You will take her for walks anyway, why not use this time for extra cuddles? This is a great way for the father to bond, too.

Third, because it is a life-saver when your child is a cry-baby.
The Little Bean wouldn’t tolerate lying in her crib more than ten minutes. She was a very bad sleeper, only ever finding rest in my arms during daytime, waking at every sound. After a few days she was exhausted, I was exhausted, and Mr. Loca had to go back to work. So I tried the sling, and she almost instantly went to sleep.
Now I don’t believe you can spoil a baby during its first year, and I don’t believe in letting them “cry it out”, so carrying her the first three months straight was the road I chose, and she turned out to be a happy baby, sleeping through the night in her own room most of the nights.

Fourth, because I love to go on hikes.
And no matter which pram you buy, it will be cumbersome to manage whenever you leave asphalt roads.
Carrying your baby will also add weight to your walks, sneaking in an additional little workout.

Fourthermore, for the looks.
Your babys head will stay nice and rounded, without that flat part many babys get during the first time. And there are so many pretty designs to choose from when buying a sling, it is a great accessory.

Hiking at Rügen, June 2014 (Photo credit Mr. Loca)

There are downsides, to be sure:
It can be to heavy, especially during the first days and if you have issues with your pelvic floor muscles. Posture is very, very important during this time!

You will have to carry the groceries, too, instead of conveniently putting the into the pram.

It takes some time to learn how to handle the sling. But believe me, it isn’t as complicated as it looks and there are lots of YT-Videos around.

Lots of people will stop you on the street, telling you why you shouldn’t do it. This seems to be something you sign up for when having a baby: Random people telling you what to do.

Not every baby likes it. Friends of mine have a baby boy, and he is the most content lying in his crib. Listen to your baby!

It really doesn’t matter what you are wearing as top. Nobody will be able to see it. Which can be a good thing, when the baby spit on you the second you decided to leave the house.

I carried the Little Bean up until she was nine months old. After that, she didn’t like it as much as she used to, preferring the push chair. If we go somewhere crowded, like a Christmas Market, I still carry her in the sling.
After some hesitation Mr. Loca first tried the Carrier and then the sling, which he preferred, and carried her whenever the two of them went for a walk.

So if you were hesitant, just give it a go. But make sure you get professional help when tying the baby in the sling for the first times, as it is very important to get it right.
Despite common fear, is is beneficial for spine and hips when done right.

If you want to know more:
Click here for an Irish website.
Or click here for a German website.

If you already have children, what were your experiences?
Or are there any questions left?
Please tell me your thoughts in the comments.

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