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Posts Tagged ‘baby wrap’

As I walked into a restaurant the other day, the lady greeting me asked “Don’t you have a car seat to bring in?”

“No, I prefer to hold him,” I answered, and she smiled.

It’s so funny to me that these detachable car seats have become a part of the developed world’s parenting culture.

Even at our first trip out to the store when the baby was two weeks old, my husband just assumed we’d take in the car seat and put it in the cart– which I hate doing– while I made sure to have my wrap with us. If I’m going to be somewhere for an hour and a half, I want the baby with me, smelling me, feeling close to me– not enveloped in a plasticky, impersonal car seat, and– at least in my mind– more likely to need to be held when I’m at home and may want to put him down for a minute.

I don’t have a huge objection to detachable infant car seats, and our car seat does detach, though I could take it or leave it more than most people. My husband definitely wanted the detachable car seat, but we use it mostly for the advantage of bringing it in the house when it is cold outside and taking him to the car from our house to a warmed car than anything else. I don’t really cart the baby around stores or restaurants in it at all.

I think people tend to think this is convenient, especially if the baby is sleeping, but I’d rather babywear. It’s more convenient to me. The car seats are heavy and cumbersome to me. And then you have to take them out to feed them or change them anyway. I always put the baby in a wrap and keep him next to my chest while we are out. It keeps me in tune with him– I know when he needs to eat before he fully wakes up and gets upset, and I know if he needs to be changed.

Part of it is the paranoia that this baby will be how his older sister Ada was in the car seat. She had so much tummy trouble and “colicky” behavior because of her then undiscovered gluten-intolerance that car drives were hell. Literally. I’d put her in at the very, and I mean *very*, last instant and drive as quickly as was safe because she’d scream for far more car drives than she didn’t. We switched her from the detachable one to a Britax convertible car seat at 6 months old anyway. It may have help but that’s also the time we started figuring out her stomach problems, so who knows.

Either way, I think I’m becoming more entrenched in the baby wearing subculture with each baby. I wore my first in a ring sling, and would nurse her that way because it helped with my over-active milk ducts– nursing upright and while walking. I wore the second in the wrap because it would soothe her to sleep with her tummy pain and my first was only 2 at the time. It was much easier to keep track of them both at a store and to get work done at the house with one strapped to my chest.

This time I’ve been wearing the baby just about anytime I get up to do anything. Clean the kitchen, do some work for my business, vaccuum. He’s been in the wrap a better part of today so far, and is still there now, which is why I decided to go ahead and write a blog post. He’s snoozing away.

I still make a lot of milk– too much again, for the third time around, to have a baby that can effectively comfort nurse. Often, as a baby nurses off to sleep the milk flow tapers down and they drift off well. My breasts will continue to bring more and more milk until the baby is overfull and hurting and sometimes gagging. He’ll either spit it all up, or cry until he falls asleep and the food can digest, or come off to burp and I can put him in the wrap and walk around. This soothes him to sleep without getting such a full, painful tummy. Thank goodness. Usually when he does spit it all up it’s because it’s nighttime and I’m tired and therefore let him continue to nurse b/c I don’t want to get back up again!

Between working at home, trying to get housework done and having two other kids to keep track of, I think he’ll spend a good part of his first year in the wrap. I still put him in a swing or bouncer some, but I’ve just never succesfully had a baby that will sleep that way– not next to someone– though he will sit there for a bit. He’s the most easy-going baby I’ve had. I obviously missed the mommy class on how to have a child sleep without me being close, b/c it does seem that other people accomplish that. It is beyond me.

What baby doesn’t want to be snuggled up on their mother anyway? With my first I always wanted to put her down. She slept well in the car seat or co-sleeper, and mildly tolerated a bouncer or swing, and was mostly in the wrap at stores or if I really wanted to get something done. Now fast forward to the third, and I no longer care about anyone’s assertions or advice that I should put him down, and it doesn’t bother me as much either to have a baby that wants me just about 24-7. He gets to be held all the time just because it’s easier. And he’s still quite good about going to my husband at nighttime when I put our 4-year-old to bed and give her some one-on-one attention.

My oldest truly has the position of oldest. More responsible. She had to share me at age 2– and with a colicky sister, she cried to sleep with her father b/c she wanted me so much. The second one is 4 with an easy going little brother that I hold all day and is happy to go to his father at bedtime. Both the younger ones hugely benefit from the experience we learned from having the first one. It seriously makes me want to go snuggle with her and tell her she’s the most amazing 6-year-old there is.

It seems each child I have gets more of me because I get better at taking care of babies and know already which tools– like the baby wrap or sling– I plan to utilize.

Even the eldest’s attitude towards the baby benefits him, because my 4-year-old mimics her. If she didn’t have such a sweet example to follow, I’m not sure that she would be quite as positive to the new baby. But so far there have been no hard feelings at all. There is a little insecurity and both older girls have needed some time with me, alone, that I’ve tried to give them. Baby wearing does make that easier.

It honestly makes everything easier. On the one hand, sure, it’s easier to clean the kitchen without a baby tied on my chest, but if having him there makes him happier to be put down when my older girls need me, or when I need to do something for me— you know, like, *shower*, then baby wearing makes life better.

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A friend of mine asked me, about 6 months ago, for a list of the top ten things I can’t live without with a new baby.  Fortunately I think she’s still actually pregnant.  Good thing it takes 9 months!

My answers will not include bouncers, swings, bottles, strollers and all the junk you are told you *have* to have to have a baby.  True– I used a swing and bouncer some (mostly for showers and dinner prep), and Azita switched between bottle and breast as I was still in college and pretty much a working/pumping mom.  But Ada never used a bottle, maybe once.

Azita hated all bouncers and swings, and Ada tolerated them for 15 minutes at a time, just enough for a shower or quick meal prep.  But once her tummy aches and food intolerances kicked in, unforetunately the swing didn’t soothe her at all.  I’ve heard of people whose kids adore swings or bouncers and that its a lifesaver.  For us, they took up space and money.

So, my top ten list, trying to be devoid of too much commercialism and down to the real, true needs:

Hmm, should I count down?  I guess so.

1o.  Baby socks of only one color.  I swear those girls never wore the same pair twice.  I was completely unable to keep up with them.  With Ada I wised up and got only the exact same ones, but about ten pairs. 

9. Cloth diapers and an open mind to look into Elimination Communication— watching your newborn for little wiggly legs and taking her to the sink, instead of wrapping her up in plastic.  Either one will save your wallet and your curbside traffic pick up.

8. A co-sleeper or bedrail to aid in safe co-sleeping (defined as baby in the room, not necessarily in the bed) and the book, the No Cry Sleep Solution by Elizabeth Pantley or the Sleep Book by Dr. Sears.  Any books by Dr. Sears, actually.

7. Ideas for food that is healthy yet easy to prepare one handed.  An example:  Chicken thighs and a potato in the oven.  Bake for an hour.  Have a salad mix ready.  You can use tongs for the chicken and never need to wash your hands and there is little clean up or effort on your part.  Cut veggies in the fridge are good snacks, especially with hummus or another healthy dip.  Keep water handy.  Frozen homemade meals, prepared ahead of time, are wonderful if you can swing it.

6.  The right mindset.  You shouldn’t judge yourself and should remember that a messy house is okay for the time being.  It’s okay take care of the important things, like kitchens and bathrooms, and let the other things slide.  It’s okay, nay essential, that you put your needs and your baby’s needs ahead of material things. 

5. A support system.  In our culture, women are often far away from family, and even when family is close, ideas about nursing and baby care and sleeping through the night and all types of things can be, unfortunately, combative and sometimes not helpful.  Hopefully, there is another person there to do some laundry and cook some meals.  Support found through a La Leche League group, a partner who understands the woman’s job for the first three months is to heal herself and nurse her baby or a friend (who is free to help out around the house) can be wonderful.

4. A copy of The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding

3.  A baby wrap or sling.  Ada was very colicky, though there were underlying reasons for that, as many of you know, and for a while, she would only nap while being worn.  And an over-exhausted fussy baby is worse than a fussy one.  Also, tt always felt so much safer having her snuggled to my chest than in a carseat or grocery cart.  Not to mention wonderful for her developmet and body heat.

Wraps are expensive, and to decommercialize this even more— here’s the secret, they are ridiculously easy to make, and you can make a wrap even without a sewing machine.  Or there are several very nice ones available now on websites.  I’ve heard very negative things about the business practices of Ergo, a popular choice, but there are many others.  I was definitely a wrap and ring sling girl.  But for the new  mom, wraps have a longer learning curve.  Pouches are easiest, and then things like the Beco, Ergo or ring sling.  I prefer two shouldered and look up the spinal pressure thing of models like the Baby Bjorn.  The others are better options.

3.  A basket with a water bottle, book, the TV clicker and some easy to eat snacks.  It can be carried around with one arm as new momma shuffles from the couch to the bed, and if baby falls asleep on her and she is too exhausted to get up, she’s got what her body and mind needs with her.

2. A doula.  I guess that would be for before baby arrives, but its still on my list.  She was invaluable to me and my husband both.

1.  The number of an LLL Leader and information on local groups.  When Azita was born, I was in tears and pain and felt like I was doing something wrong.  A La Leche League Leader came to my hospital room before Azita was 24 hours old and gave me hope that there was a light at the end of the tunnel, now that I was armed with some information about what was normal for a new breastfeeding pair.  The nurses were of no help at all and made me feel worse.  And yes, the pressure to breastfeed was put there by myself, and no one else, but it was still fiercely important to me, for reasons I couldn’t explain.

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