My introduction into baby wearing was fairly inauspicious. A kind friend gave me their elite front pack and I was an instant convert. I loved wearing my wee boy, he loved it too. It was one of the best gifts I had, it totally changed my parenting and for the better. Being up at my height and being able to interact with the world was right up his alley. He refused point blank to face inwards to me and instead demanded to be outwards facing to enjoy the goings on around us while still being close enough to cuddle. My absolute favourite thing was taking him on bushwalks, I would go every week to wander through the forest with him, the freedom of being able to go ‘off piste’ was great and not having to deal with a stroller in and out of the car was really handy. It was safe to say my baby wearing addiction was sealed. When he grew out of his front pack at 6ish months I invested in a pocket sling and once again lived the high life of baby wearing. Supermarket shops were a dream, having him close enabled him to interact with me but also kept him from pulling everything off of the shelf and losing his business at me. The only downside was that due to bad positioning and a pre-existing imbalance in my body it slowly pulled at my shoulder making me uncomfortable, this threw my hip out of alignment and ended up with a dodgy knee, wrist and about 6 months of physio. After this experience you think I’d give it up. But I loved being close to my boy, and wearing him meant I could out-manoeuvre any stroller on any terrain. So when he gave up wanting to be carried at 2 years it was with a sigh I packed away my sling.
2 years later I got knocked up and started to research carriers again.
That is when I found out I was Doing. It.Wrong.
At first I was a bit shocked and defensive, ‘It worked for us’ was my response when I heard people talk about the dangers of outwards facing and ‘crotch danglers’. I was absolutely certain that my boy was fine therefore front packs were fine. He wanted to forwards face, so it must have been right, right?
The truth is, front packs like the elite or the baby bjorn are not designed to be safe on baby’s hips or their wearer and cause not only a bad posture in the person wearing them but an unhealthy posture in baby. They are very trendy though, not a day goes by when a celebrity isn’t snapped with a baby dangling from their front. Narrow crotched baby carriers put pressure on the spine of baby and force the person wearing them to thrust their hips out. They also don’t support the hip joints as they should and can cause hipdysplasia. I was lucky that I had a big butty boy with big butty nappies. I was lucky that he grew out of the carrier before too long and I upgraded to a better carrier. (well better for him anyway).
I was lucky that I was surrounded by knowledgeable women who were also kind and understanding. I was never made to feel bad for my decisions or openly criticised, (thank you Conscious Parenting Dunedin) but I was provided with the right info to make an informed choice. At first I fought back against that informed choice. I demanded to know safe ways to carry my second boy forwards facing in case he was like his brother. I dove into a little pond of cognitive dissonance and wallowed in it for a while. After I got over myself I came to acknowledge I hadn't made the best decision carrier wise, I forgave myself and moved on. I learned that instead of outwards facing I could do a back carry which was more comfortable for both of us and enabled him to face out and me to free up my front. I learned how to position baby in a safe position for their hips and spine. I learned how to use a carrier without stuffing my body up.
And thus started the great baby wearing addiction of 2012, I am so at ease with baby wearing and so in love with the convenience, ease and closeness that I don't even miss our stroller – which I sold to pay some bills a few months ago. I now have a beautiful third hand manduca gifted to me by a wonderful friend, a second hand Storchenwiege woven wrap that I snapped up on a crunchy mums trading page and I still have my trusty pocket sling to use for short trips and as an emergency carrier in my purse for those delicious close snuggly carries. I cannot confirm or deny any perusal of sites offering the beautiful Northern Lights girasol wrap or the manduca limited edition carriers.
...and luckily for me there are LOADS of great resources out there to feed my addiction. Thank you Anna and Slingbabies!
And hooray for New Zealand Baby Wearing Week!