Posts Tagged ‘babywearing’

Toddler and Tandem Babywearing

Since the birth of her brother, my 2.5 yo has been wanting to be babied (big surprise).

I tandem nurse her and wear her, as does my husband, as much as possible. The babywearing has offered a sweet closeness that I missed. My babywearing journey has been full of unexpected twists and turns.

Just as when my daughter was little, my BabyHawk and Kozy Carrier mei tais have been doing the trick for nursing baby and walking around. (She needed walking around to sleep, but my son is an easier sleeper it seems.) The mei tais are so quick and easy and adjustable for short carries. However, I stopped wearing her in them when she was bigger and could fit the ERGObaby. I did wear her up through my sixth month of pregnancy in my Boba.

On a whim, I tied my Didymos woven wrap on and threw her in it. Without a diaper even. I was surprised how comfortable and easy it was. I am not yet skilled at tying wraps, so I think I could do better. (I also need help with ring slings, although I’m not a fan of one shoulder weight.) Still, it worked.

That's her "smiling."

One random day a few months ago, I got out the frame backpack carrier from the closet. As soon as she saw it she wanted in. I, of course, had baby, but I was excited that my husband could wear her in that. My daughter expressed my excitement when she said “me and baby are in the sling together!”

The frame carrier was great when we took a train adventure just for family fun a few weeks ago.

Daddy has the shoulders for this thing, but I find it comfortable, too.

Recently, I thought I’d try her in one of my mei tais just to see because it’s so easy to put on (especially since I’m already wearing it a lot for baby). It was so awesome! I just swung the body around to the back and had her climb in.

Wow, comfortable. Just have to watch those long legs...

The back carry was super easy since she can understand getting in and can cooperate from her vantage point. I found the weight distribution with her on my back comfortable. I loved that it was easy to get her in and easy to get her out (which she wants sooner than she did as a baby). Plus, I don’t have to change carriers for my children. Same carriers, same diapers…a streamlined life!

So, yes. I was completely surprised and excited to find that I have a full range of babywearing options back in effect with her. Wouldn’t have expected that with a toddler when most folks stop babywearing. It’s almost the most versatile stage, though, it would seem. Just goes to show you.

To end, then, speaking of late stage babywearing, I’ll leave you with this post from a mama wearing her “baby” through to age 11 and beyond! Rock climbing adventure? No problem! An inspiring and uplifting must-read….

Wear your “babies” proud, mamas, papas, grandparents and all caregivers!

Sunday Stream-Of-Consciousness: Sling Envy

Totally drool-worthy new Boba 3G
Courtesy paxbaby.com
 

I love me some babywearing.  Nowadays, my 6 slings just aren’t enough.


Before I had Beanie I always knew I wanted to babywear.  I just didn’t know what I wanted needed.  First, I ordered a fancy European stretchy wrap (BB Tricot Wrap) in organic fabric.  Then he was born and it was obvious that I was a babywearing ninny.  I was scared to wrap us up in the yards of fabric lest my origami-esque endeavors resulted in him falling out.  About a month afterwards, I conned my abuelita into buying the “Dr. Sears Approved Sling“.  Total bad-for-the-baby, bad-for-you-bag-sling.  Mal hated it too.  Soon afterwards, I found an organic, one-size Hotsling at our local natural food store, watched the video, practiced with a stuffed teddy and then gingerly put him in.  He liked it, not right away, but he eventually learned to love it.

Morale bolstered, I then attempted the dreaded not-Moby again.  It finally worked!  He loved to snuggle and I could move my arms (though not directly upwards, gah!)  But at 3 months, he was 16 pounds.  Time to try the back carry with my lovely new Kozy mei tai.  Genius!  I started to actually do housework again.  Then at 6 months, it started to feel uncomfortable.  Introducing the new SSC (soft structured carrier), the Boba!  (Organic fabric too.)  This was the sling that finally got my husband into babywearing.  Finally, when I happened to visit Metro Minis in NYC and spied some lovely new “inexpensive” woven Didymos wraps that had just come in, I realized that what I really needed was something light and comfy for the beach and summertime.  I have worn it exactly one time, at the beach, that summer. (!)

My slings have rotated in and out of favor (except for that awful bag sling).  But at a recent babywearing meeting near my home in NJ, I got to try on a ring sling (a lightly padded Maya), the only type of sling I haven’t owned yet.  And I loved it!  Mal loved it too, he snuggled up right next to me in a hip carry and insisted that I cover him with the tail.  So easy to wear under winter coats.  So quick and easy to pop him up and down, thus saving my arms and my sciatic nerve.  This is the one folks!  At least, that’s what I’m telling my husband.

What sling is your current fave?  Are you hoping the Sling Fairy will visit you soon too?

Addendum:

  • So, apparently, I could totally make my own Maya wrap ring sling based on instructions from their website.  Anyone want to have a sling sewing party?
  • Although, if I wanted to really make a fancy sling, I’d make this one.  Um, internal harness to switch from front to back carry?  Yes, please.  (I know, I know, the Beco Butterfly 2 has it too.)
  • I secretly want one of these mei-tai hybrids too.  I tried one on at Metro Minis and it was oh-so-comfortable … but British and therefore, expensive.
  • I really want one of these Boba Packs in Tweet to attach to my boring old Boba.  Or make a similar one from here.  But will I probably settle for getting a Patapum waist pouch or bag, or get this one for the ring sling.  Just found this one too!  Has anyone tried these?
  • Find slings FSOT (For Sale or Trade) on the BabywearerCaution:  highly addictive!
  • I actually got to try on the awesome Boba 3G at the meeting.  The mama who brought it rented it from here – a sling exchange = genius!

What I Love Wearing More Than Clothes

My daughter! Just like Mama Eve explains in her post “Falling for Babywearing Again!” I have had a varied and shifting relationship with slings and babywearing. I’ve had so many sling experiences.

First I had a pouch sling, the ones that were all over the news for being a smothering hazard. I was never worried for her safety, but I also had to readjust her constantly because she was so small and weighed so little.

She soon got big enough, even with her tiny frame, to make the thing uncomfortable and awkward. I turned to the woven wrap, 9 ft, Didymos that my college volleyball coach gave me. This worked well till she got heavier. Then I had to keep tying and retying and readjusting again.

I moved on to a mei tai from Babyhawk (red) and one from Kozy Carrier (brown). Loved the mei tai style so much after all the tying and long dangling ends and giant knot of the woven. Quick and easy and easy to readjust. I could nurse in it rather discreetly and easily–a major plus. Kozy Carrier has so many resources on her site. Then she got heavier and taller. That thing hurt and shifted in the worst ways for me, and nursing was no longer discreet with her head popping out. I did try the back carry with this sling. I did like that and so did she on occasion. I gardened in it wonderfully. I wasn’t good at it, though, and found it difficult to get it right sometimes when others it felt perfect.

I realized from watching friends with a heavier baby that I should get an Ergo. With it’s padding and adjustable straps and heavy waist weight distribution, I felt so comfortable in this thing. My daughter felt light again, my neck pain gone. I could do so much so easily. Nursing was once again discreet and easy. I tried a back carry now and again, but she couldn’t get high enough to see and didn’t seem to enjoy it much. Then, she went through the biggest growth spurt yet, started running and demanding to be taken in and out of the sling on walks. With two dogs it’s not doable for me to watch her run by myself.

Eventually the pain of the weight on my neck and shoulders and my daughter’s desire to move around made me give up babywearing for a while. It felt easier to just pick her up in my arms and put her down, as many times as she was wanting to be picked up and put down just as quickly.

Then, after days of crying hysterically to get picked up right when we started to make dinner, I realized she wanted to watch us cook. It seemed easier to put her in the sling than hold her all the time. Around that time someone in my homebirth community posted about Boba slings on Facebook. I read how some other families from our homebirth class were feeling success and comfort with the sling. They pointed to improvements on problems I was having. I felt grateful to have an option.

I ordered my Boba, and it came FAST! They must know about the sufferings of parents. From the first carry it has been a dream. Here’s a weird thing, though. The Boba and the Ergo are and look so similar to me. I have no idea why the one is more comfortable now. The Boba does have  a longer body for bigger babies and is meant for a heavier child. This is what I have been particularly grateful for because I can do the back carry without worrying that her neck will hurt if she falls asleep.

In fact, this Boba has been my saving grace of late. Not only can I get her on my back ridiculously easily, but she loves it. I can wear her content self on my back while grocery shopping instead of having a wiggly toddler in the cart. I put her in there while I do things around the house or go for a walk, and she falls asleep. For someone who knows the alternative is nursing to sleep, I have loved having an option that both of us like. I can even get her out of the Boba onto the bed without waking her up. Yay and yay.

So, yes, my journey of babywearing has not been smooth, but I have learned so much and loved wearing my child. I am so happy to be able to wear her comfortably again. There is something so close and sweet. It reminds me of when she was little. At some point in the future, I hope to be able to use my slings and experiences to help other mothers, fathers and caretakers find comfortable ways to wear the ones they love with joy and comfort.

Babywearing is one ancient practice that seems like a no brainer, even in this modern age.

Local to Philly and the surrounding areas? Come to Philly Babywearers. Get support, try on slings, and share stories and questions.

Another Living Family Experience

I feel so happy and whole when we go as a family to my husband’s gigs. My daughter loves the music. I like that she gets experience being there while he is performing. This latest one was family friendly, and the art in the gallery was thought-provoking.

Let your children see you cry

Heavy with Milk?


A Living Family

Creating and maintaining a Living Family can be an exhausting, but thoroughly rewarding enterprise.

Thursday night I went to a concert with my daughter, a one-year old. I worked a long, pre-winterbreak day in a classroom of newly hormonal adolescents, came home (in carpool — luckily, or I would feel guilty for the gas) and got stuff together for Gopinath’s concert with Allyn Miner and Thomas because he was stuck in traffic. We all drove down together to the beautiful Twelve Gates Art Gallery on 3rd and Cherry. Uma nooked about a bit while he set up the sound and everyone tuned. We listened to the first song, Uma singing along and chatting *loudly* during the enchanting melodies. I decided to take her outside so she could walk around since she was in the car for so long twice. It was wonderful to get to see her walk around and experience her outside so independently for the first time, on the sidewalk walking as her own person beside me.

I will be honest here. It is difficult being a working and breastfeeding mother who believes herself an attachment parent. One word: GUILT. It must be the nature of motherhood to feel this emotion because I haven’t met a mother who hasn’t felt guilt. I am blessed in innumerous ways, but one of them is that Gopinath is home with our one-year old all day every day. As a result, though, he knows her better than me. I miss so much of this period of rapid growth and development of my own child while I’m helping other people’s older children grow and develop through a particularly challenging life transition. I come home emotionally and mentally drained to my amazing, loving, need-filled daughter. What do I have left to give? ………… Here comes guilt.

The reality is that since I’m still breastfeeding this was my chance to have her nurse and stave off the threat of diminishing supply any time I am not at work I’m still “on,” so my choices are thereby my daughter’s in a real sense. My daughter and I live together by nature and necessity because of breastfeeding. This was an easy decision because as a rule I support my husband’s life as a musician. Whenever we fit so naturally into my husband’s musician life, I count it a blessing to stay out late and try (and fail) to get Uma to sleep in the Ergo.

Anyway, due to the hectic nature of this period before winter break, I wondered if I should even go to the concert. My daughter had already had a busy day of car travel and hanging out with friends, and I still had to make it through Friday. Without much second guessing, I decided to go. My whole family derives pleasure from listening to music, and here my husband was playing music with such a talented master musician. It seemed important to make room the possibility of this family event in my life.

It wasn’t the perfect fit, but this was a vital step towards the three of us being a Living Family. Each parent needs to see the child before them. My daughter has proven herself to be easy going with most change and transitions. She loves music and rhythm period; to hear and see her daddy play music is just joy on top of joy. It felt sweet and supportive walking/dancing/swaying/bouncing to the music together. I had intended to have her sleep while we both listened; she wanted to walk around and exclaim about her newfound discoveries. After a while, I took her outside to nook about, and I got a chance to spend time with her and see what she is working on and excited about. Eventually, because it was freezing outside, I took Uma to grab dinner for ourselves, came back just in time for the last notes, broke down the sound equipment so Gopinath and Uma could connect with and build community. It was hustle and bustle and felt literally like a Living Family, working and living together quite easily, if not traditionally.

Living Together is not always what I expect, but it is good and I think I can get used to it.

The Nature of Family

Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about the nature of family and what family means in our modern world and in the United States in particular. This questioning arises most naturally when the way I have chosen to live, how I have given birth to and am raising my child and what I believe and hope for seems, at times, radically different or even diametrically opposed to the vast majority of the people around me and society at large. What does family mean to a first generation East Indian who grew up in rural Kansas but now lives outside a major city? What does family mean to a homebirth, breastfeeding, baby-wearing, co-sleeping, EC-practicing mama?

We are born into our families, rather than choosing them, as we might our friends, based on similar personalities, interests or belief systems. Every family is different, but each family must navigate the waters of relationship. More than ever, now that I have my daughter, I believe that family is created intentionally. This is clear even from the fact that some children are given up for adoption; in those cases, family is intentionally not created at birth for whatever reason but, hopefully, is created with great intent later in life.

What does it mean to create family? As a mother of a one-year old whose parenting choices alone often relegate her to minorities within minorities of society, I find myself thinking about this often. In India, both of my parents had time in their lives where they lived in a more universally traditional way, with grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, and distant relatives all packed in under one roof in a family compound, so to speak. Understandably, family was whoever lived in the “house.” Though extensive, it was indeed immediate family, and, by the nature of life, often included neighbors or other non-blood relatives. Stories of huge groups of children and adults literally gathered around light in the darkness listening to stories made up on the whim of my own grandfather or singing bhajans led by my mother’s cousin’s cousin’s wife, stories that seem out of some version of a book called Laura Ingalls Wilder Goes to India where everyone’s working by candlelight and going hungry.

Here in the United States at this time, immediate family often means the parent(s) and child(ren). What a fraction of the people that family once was! Those few people surely would spend all their time together, more than their counterparts of the past, would they not? No! It somehow means fewer people to share the load of living. Granted, the sea of societal structures and self-destructive sloganism brutally bombard these tiny rafts of familial relationship. In fact, many of us feel ourselves floating alone through the trials of life. What happened to family?

Creating family requires conscious intention. How do I do this when my small, immediate family of four is strewn across three states and thousands of miles? Then again, today’s technology allows me to blog, Skype, Facebook, email, scan, fax, and phone my child’s grandparents as well as mail them things next day or even same day! My mother raised me in Kansas while my Indian grandparents, eight times more distant had to have someone go down the block to the corner store to get on the phone call list so they could call us. Logic and reason suggest that creating loving and close family bonds with access so many methods of connection should be relatively easy, a matter of effort rather than intention.

Family for me has felt both immediate and elusive. Barriers of culture, communication, emotion, and perception pop up to block connections I intend to make. Hurt feelings and confusion abound, but perhaps this is part of my parents having raised me in a country and culture with such opposing values to the ones of their own upbringing. Respect, seeming simple and singular in definition, somehow contradictorily means hearing out ideas and agreeing to disagree versus doing whatever I say or letting me do whatever I want in the face of disagreement. Vertical and horizontal hierarchies create very different feelings of family.

For me, creating family for my daughter has meant that I have intentionally explored and chosen to implement a number of independent ideas that work together cooperatively to create a community around my little raft of a family despite differences and difficulties with my immediate family. Indeed, creating a family, even within the intimacy of our three-piece immediate family, requires all my intention and spirit when I find myself having to give the very energy I would devote to creating family with my loving husband, who is a wonderful father to my precious daughter, while I am, essentially, a mother to other people’s children. In the environment and structure of this country and culture, driven by time and money, it is actually more efficient for me to think about Living Family rather than creating family.

Living Family means many things to me, but all help me stay focused on the goal of creating a  sea of family and a community in which to live and ideally thrive. Living Family means:

  1. being in and living from the present moment
  2. creating structures and routines that support family bonds
  3. expanding the limits of family to other families that support the family life I intend to create ….. in essence, creating a community of others who want to consciously create family in a vein similar to ours
  4. make a living…as opposed to making “it,” whatever “it” is…in a way that allows my “selves” to not be so separate from each other and/or from family
  5. living our family life in such a way that allows us, others as well as the natural world to live and thrive while being mindful of resources and relationships

Having this goal feels lofty to me. It requires that I shift my whole focus and think broadly and creatively. It also feels vital, however, if I want to reach any semblance of traditional family connections and experiences of shared living. My daughter has just turned one. Now, with this intention, we begin the journey towards a Living Family….

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