Babywearing Myths and Misconceptions - Part One.

Last week I sent out a tweet on the TweetyBox and a Facebook status on the Natural Urban Mamas page for all the myths and misconceptions that people have heard about babywearing. The response was amazing! And here I am to set the record straight on a few recurring themes and comments that came my way! Thank you to everyone who posted and tweeted with me about this.

From Twitter, @knikkicharles wrote,

Misconception: "my baby didn't like the snugli, so they don't like being carried..."

There is a very good explanation why most babies do not or have not liked being carried in snuglis, bjorns or any other kind of similar carrier that does not place them in an ergonomically and therefore comfortable position to be carried in. Being carried in these kinds of carriers does not support babies legs properly and can put a fair amount of pressure on their immature spines and necks. These carriers, which also often recommend outward or forward-facing positions put baby in a non-physiological position that places pressure on the inner thighs of baby and the lower spine (the least developed part of your infants spinal column) and can be very stressful for babies. Hence, "my baby did not like the snugli."

Wearing your infant in a soft fabric carrier such as a wrap, mei tai or sling and keeping them oriented to the wearer in a tummy-to-tummy position is the solution here. Ideally the fabric of any baby carrier should extend from the back of one of baby's knees all the way to the other one, making a deep 'seat' for the baby to sit in. This position fully supports the legs and in turn positions the pelvis properly and optimally supports the spine and creates a comfortable place for babies to be!

And @hugabub also tweeted:

Myth: That wraps are too complicated/difficult/time-consuming to tie.

"Babywearing is a skill that you learn and master and is not the result of a product that you buy."

I read this the other day and could not think of a better way to describe it.  That being said, there is skill involved in a lot of things about parenting. It takes some skill to put together a crib, install a car seat, figure out your stroller and assemble all the other gear and gadgets that come along with having a baby. A wrap carrier may look a little intimidating at first pass, but with a little bit of practice you will GET it and trust me, your babywearing efforts will be rewarded 10 fold!  When I first brought home my little 4 pound preemie from the hospital four and a half years ago, I had a stretchy wrap and he lived in that thing. And every day for that first two weeks we were home with him, I would go and look at the online instructions on how to tie the wrap on me and then get him in it. Yes, it took some practice and yes, it took a bit more time, but it was so worth it. So please Mamas, don't just dismiss something because it looks like it is too hard. Try it, PRACTICE, seek out some professional babywearing education if you can and see for yourself. And believe me when I tell you that you (and your sweet little baby) will not be disappointed that you did!

Another lovely babywearing and blogging mama, @joyfulabode, wrote this:

Myth: "Babywearing creates clingy, needy children."

This is actually one of the biggest misconceptions about babywearing and attachment or instinctive parenting as a whole. We are conditioned in our western culture to think that holding a child will spoil them and make them into clingy, demanding little human beings. While in fact the exact opposite is true. Research has shown us that the physical closeness and physiological benefits of babywearing actually encourages children to be more independent and to feel more secure and content. They develop a better sense of self-esteem and are more able to be AT the centre of activity versus being THE centre of attention and that in and of itself promotes and stimulates brain development and cognitive learning. So wear your babies Mamas, and do it often. Give them a safe, secure and rich learning environment and know that a baby has no sense of entitlement, does not know what being spoiled means and only wants to be held close so that their most important needs can be met. Food, touch, warmth and love!

And finally, Josline from Facebook wrote:

Misconception: "That {babywearing} is just for babies!"

Ah yes, because as we all know, babies are the only ones who want to be picked up and carried and held. NOT! Imagine this: you are walking through the mall with your toddler happy as a clam in the stroller, and then suddenly, NOT at ALL and all she wants is for you to pick her up and carry her. The problem is, you kind of need two hands to steer the stroller through the mall and juggle the shopping bags and fish in your purse for your wallet, and....well, you're getting the picture right? We have all been there and gotten the looks from everyone passing by as our toddler is having a scream-at-the-top-of-his-lungs tantrum because we just don't have enough arms to do it all! Babywearing can be a life and sanity saver in this moment and many others like it!

I think this misconception exists because a lot of the carriers like the snuglis and bjorns of the world have a pretty low weight limit on them and once a baby has outgrown these kinds of carriers, parents believe that they can no longer carry them in any kind of baby carrier. Having a good, proper baby carrier that can support both you and your growing baby in a variety of different carrying positions is key to keeping your babywearing relationship going with your child for as long as you both need! And again, having someone to teach or show you the different baby carriers and to explain which is best for all stages and ages is important too. Do a bit of research and find a baby carrier that is safe for carrying your older baby or toddler, will be comfortable for both of you and by all means, keep enjoying all of the amazing benefits that babywearing has to offer!

Stay tuned later this week for Part Two of the Myths & Misconceptions of Babywearing. I still have a whole page full of them to dispell!!

Happy Babywearing Everyone.

Natasha~

References:
1. Strollers, baby carriers and infant stress. by Elizabeth Antunovic (©2008 NAP, Inc.)
2. InstinctiveParenting.com. Benefits of babywearing.
3. AskDrSears.com. Attachment Parenting Research.