Sunday, January 12, 2014

Reasons I Don't Like Babywearing, but Do It Anyway

Here's why I don't like babywearing:

1. I can't physically do everything I'd be able to if I had a baby who slept in a swing or bassinet: like sew, or exercise, or bathe, or unload the dishwasher, or not be touching someone.

2. It can get a little achy.

3. They can tell if I sit down, and they don't like it.




Here's why I do it anyway:

1. I can do just about everything else: school, cooking, tidying, even some crafts and writing. I've got both hands.

2. There is a part of me that really, honestly loves just being close to my baby all the time. Even if it makes me achy and less productive.

3. It makes them sleep almost all the time. Between nursing and babywearing during the day and cosleeping at night, my current six week old baby is sleeping and/or nursing at least 22 hours a day. That means she's almost never crying or fussing or needing to be entertained. She's with me, her needs are met, I don't have to swaddle or shush or do any nap time routines. I just go about my day, with my other kids, wearing the baby.

4. It seems to be the only thing that works for my particular babies. They really won't sleep any other way. No matter how deeply asleep they are in my arms, if I lay them down, they wake up within minutes. They don't sleep reliably in the car, and if they do fall asleep, they wake up immediately if the car stops moving (this is true of even my older kids). They are generally not soothed by swings or buzzy seats.

As much as babywearing can be frustrating and limiting in some ways, mostly I am really grateful to have found something that works for my babies and is doable for me. There are benefits and drawback to any style of parenting infants, but what I found was that, for me, it wasn't a matter of researching various methods and choosing the one I liked best and doing that to my baby. Instead it turned out that I had to learn about and try various methods until I found the one that worked for my baby and do that -- because the other ways just didn't work. And even between my children, who are mostly very similar in how they sleep, there have been subtle differences. Lulu loves the Ergo, Anita much preferred the sling. Frankie hated carriers of all kinds and insisted on being just held. THAT was a real pain in the neck, literally, and a great blow to productivity. But we survived, because we had to. It was the only thing that worked.

So, if you are currently parenting an infant, or plan to do so in the near future, the only real advice I can offer is: Figure out what works for YOUR baby. Keep trying things until you find something that allows your baby to get some sleep and you to fulfill your daily obligations. Maybe it's babywearing, maybe it's a Moses basket, maybe it's a swing, maybe it's swaddling, maybe it's a sleep schedule. My little sister would only sleep in a cradle kept in constant motion by an electric can opener, so maybe it's that. I don't know what it is for you, but when you figure out what it is, just keep on doing it and don't bother about what anyone else says is the "right" method.



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20 comments:

  1. I am SO right with you on this Kendra! Two of my three were just like yours- would only sleep on me and wake within minutes if you put them down. The exhausting part for me was that I kept trying to put them down, rather than just doing what worked!

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  2. My babies were all like that too, they only slept well if they were being held or worn in a sling. Even now, with my 16-month old, to get her to take a nap, I have to put her in the sling and walk around with her/nurse her until she falls asleep (once she is sound asleep I can lay her down (just lay her on the bed and slide the sling off) and she stays asleep but to get her to fall asleep I have to use the sling (usually only takes 10 minutes of nursing/walking with her before she is out.)

    Once my babies are about 4 months old or so, I start putting them on my back (some people do it earlier, but I never felt comfortable with that) and then my productivity increases A TON. I find it hard to do things like cooking or housework with a baby in the front, but once they can go on the back, I can cook, clean, etc and it is so much easier.

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  3. My babies are so the opposite. They ONLY sleep in cribs/bassinets. Well, except my firstborn when he was little would only sleep on the floor (don't ask, he's a nut). I have a lovely Mei Tai and Ring Sling I used with my second two. My second HATED the sling, it just made his little cranky refluxy self mad. My baby girl loves the ring sling but not for sleeping except for a catnap when she had a newborn witching hour. I do love carriers for when we go out because strollers are really cumbersome. I always keep my ring sling handy to grab and go. I've had 3 kids 2 years apart and never needed a double stroller, which is really thanks mostly to having good carriers. And yes the snuggle time is really nice sometimes. But then I get touched out and want to like pee alone and stuff :)

    The trick to having them sleep in cribs though is never to put them in it already asleep. I've never done that, I always just put them down awake and then pat them or rock them a bit if they fuss. I learned as a nanny that babies never transfer from arms to crib for a good nap. My babies all slept 20-22 hours a day as newborns and kept up good sleep throughout, even my reflux baby. My 13 month old currently sleeps 16 hours a day (12 hour night plus two 2 hour naps), which allows us to get lots of schoolwork done during naptime.

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  4. Ach, accidentally posted under my husband's account again. He does not baby wear, for the record ;)

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  5. Your little sister would only sleep in that motorized bassinet by your dad or outside in one of the early infant swings. The swing had to be wound and I would have to race to it to rewind for If it stopped she woke right up. Neither of you were good sleepers on airplanes until descent for landing and I had to carry limp bodies off of the plane. These are things I remember so you must have been a good sleeper.
    Nanacamille

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  6. I love seeing my mom friends wearing their babies all over the place. :) I don't have kids, but from nannying I have experimented a little bit with this, and I know what you mean. All the same, though, the good outweighs the bad, I think.


    ~ Country Girl's Daybook
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  7. It is funny how what works for one person doesn't work for others. When I had #1 I was all set on co-sleeping...after a week the girl wouldn't sleep near people. She had to be in a bed by herself. All my kids were the same way so there is no co-sleeping around here. I got an Ergo and planned to wear the babies...nope, none of the kids would sleep in it. They all liked their bed. #5 is really the only one that will sometimes sleep in the Ergo. However, most of the time when he wants to sleep he has to be in a bed. None of my kids really let me rock them to sleep, they all had to be in a bed. Sometime I envy those who can rock their little darling to sleep, but then other times I don't because laying a kid down and having them fall asleep on their own in 5 mins is sometimes priceless.

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    1. Your last sentence - exactly!! That is worth everything in the long run!

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  8. Babywearing is often necessary for me--not just to get things done but because it is the only way to keep them happy! So I do it, but it is very hard on me. I find it very exhausting to have someone in my personal bubble for most of the day and to always have to keep moving to keep them from waking up. Thankfully it's only a phase...a 2 year phase...

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  9. I'm curious how long you wear your babies. I know some people who wear them well past walking age (in back backpacks, mostly). That really sounds hard on the back. Also, I appreciate your perspective that a lot of child-rearing is figuring out what method works for your particular kids and doing that, rather than shoehorning them into the method that comes most highly recommended by fill-in-the-blank expert/relative.

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    1. I wore my first until he was around 18 months old or so. I think the weight of the child matters less than the support of the carrier. I actually quit wearing him mostly because he was too long - he still had about 10 pounds before he reached the upper weight limit of the carriers I have.

      I was also pregnant, and he still preferred being carried in the front, so he was running out of room that way, too. ;)

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    2. I tend to carry mine 9 months in, 9 months out. So at about 9 months old, I get them napping in a crib and only wear them when we are out.

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  10. #4 - my kids HATE sleeping. No matter what I do (save for the carrier, just like yours!)

    Question though: when they get too big for the carrier, how do you get them to sleep if they fight it NO MATTER WHAT? Any advice? I feel like I've tried it all. Sigh.

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  11. Have you written a post about cosleeping? More specifically, a post about transitioning from sleeping with you to sleeping in their own bed?

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    1. Wait, nevermind. You did. You move them out of your room when they are still under a year, right?

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    2. Yes, the link to my other post about sleep is in my reply to Jenna's comment above. I tend to move my babies out of our bed/out of the carrier between 6 months and a year. But it's doable with toddlers as well.

      As long as you have reasonable, age-appropriate expectations, you can implement them by being clear about your expectations and calm but firm in how you implement them, and very, very consistent. It can't fail. It just takes time and commitment.

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  12. All of mine were sling babies. Some longer than others, but they all loved it. My oldest son was still using the sling when he needed a snuggle until he was two. I actually bought a second one for our second child because I was worried about the reaction from the first if he saw the new baby in "his" sling! We co-slept also with the last 3 - I wish someone had told me about it sooner, because my first would have been a perfect candidate for that!

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  13. I wore my first because it was the only way to get him to nap, but it made me seriously cranky. With number two, I did the whole "don't start anything you don't want to continue." I've been putting her down for naps awake since we left the hospital, and it is AMAZING to have a baby who puts herself to sleep. We get plenty of cuddle time in her awake hours and everybody is happy.

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  14. I wish my six week old liked to be worn! It takes me just as long to get her to nod off in the carrier as it does any other way! I'm finding myself spending hours trying to get her to nap during the day, and its driving me and my toddler crazy. Phew....just had to vent. Hopefully soon I will figure out what she likes

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