Salt Lake City Based Photographer Timbra Wiist owns/operates Landslide Photography & Photographs the Journey of Motherhood (see bottom of page or sidebar for more info. . .depending on what this blog is choosing to do for the day).

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Baby Wearing Journey

This post was written as part of The Breastfeeding Cafe's Blog Carnival. For more info on the Breastfeeding Cafe, go to For more info on the Carnival or if you want to participate, contact Timbra Wiist landslidephotography {at} hotmail {dot} com. Today's post is about baby wearing. Please read the other blogs in today's carnival listed in the comments section at for today's guest blogger on the Breastfeeding Cafe site The Carnival runs July 16th through the 31st! ________________________________________________________________________________ Babywearing is common in many parts of the world and has been for centuries. Do you wear your baby? Why? Have you found it has an effect on your breastfeeding relationship? Did someone else suggest you wear your baby? Did you observe babywearing before becoming a mother? Did your mother or grandmother ever practice baby wearing? I started wearing my baby around the age of 3 weeks. I'd actually tried a sling immediately after she was born, which she was NOT a fan of, and I kind of gave up on that right away. I didn't know at the time that a bjorn was not an appropriate carrying device for a baby under the age of 6 months. . .however, I am still ever so grateful that I valued this practice of baby wearing so early on. My baby wanted to be close to me and I wanted to be close to her. We could discretely nurse and I loved that it was simple. I could keep her from touchy hands. . .everyone in her native country has touchy hands. . .they love to sniff babies' heads, kiss their feet and hands, and aren't necessarily particularly good about keeping themselves away, even from babies, when they are ill. I remember once, a man whom we had developed a relationship with, but whom I still felt leery of, coming up and sniffing my baby's head when she was a few weeks old, the first time he met her. I thought to myself (and out loud to my husband) . . .where else would it be appropriate to come so close to a woman's chest and sniff? But apparently the baby was the tiny buffer :)
I liked wearing my daughter because it meant less stuff to put in and out of a car (like a stroller). Mike even tried it once or twice, but it killed his back. . .some things only a mother can bare:)
When we lived in Fiji, we would take a taxi on Sunday mornings, for church, that was the only driving we did. Due the nature of the situation, obviously, we'd have to carry her carseat in to church with us. . .sometimes she would fall asleep and I'd think I'd have a few minutes without holding her. . .but she would always wake, very upset, after maybe a minute TWO on a good day! Others thought it was so strange that I would leave her in there, even for a few minutes. . .honestly, it kept her from being passed around, at least for those very few moments. But in this culture, you held your baby. . .ALWAYS. You nursed your baby, slept with your baby, held your baby. . .you didn't put babies away in a bucket and set them at the side of the room. Children are cherished in the Fijian culture, and it is so apparent. Though I felt resistant at times to those "backwards" ways, I am so grateful now that there were social pressures to take my baby out of her carseat directly! That people questioned any separation I might think to have with my little one, and encouraged togetherness, holding, loving, nursing. I even had older women tell me later that I taught them things about babies and motherhood. In Fiji they believe a baby's spine too weak until about the age of 10 months, they couldn't believe I was putting my baby in a sitting position at the age of 3 or 4 months. But they taught ME so many things about motherhood as well, things that I ended up clinging to when I returned to the US and was a mother for the first time here. And I am a better mother for those moments.

Back to our story. . .sometimes we would push our daughter along in her stroller/carseat combo when we'd go for walks, but many times we'd wear her. Wearing hurt my back, but I found it to be worth the closeness. . .how sleepy and peaceful she was after lying next to my heart all day as we plodded along. I used that bjorn until she was well over a year. I'd ordered a Mei Tai through a woman on ebay when she was 9 months, and through a series of strange events, the item didn't arrive until she was TWENTY THREE months old. . .in the meantime I'd tried a few "five yards of fabric" moby style wraps. The Mei Tai went with us on a trip and was totally awesome. By this point my daughter no longer had use for things like a high chair or stroller. We visited a friend in Oklahoma and all of the mothers/nannies had strollers for the kids they were with. I knew my daughter would want one, but there was no way she would sit in it, and of course, we ended up trudging through the zoo fighting over my daughter's wayward but insistently independent steering of the stroller. The Mei Tai has saved my life in about a thousand and one airports and other crowded public situations.
Some of my favorite baby wearing moments, or at least moments when I was most thankful for baby wearing (TODDLER wearing, more like) were when I was pregnant with my second daughter. Two distinct moments I remember, a clingy, whiny toddler who wanted her busy and pregnant mama's attention. . .a couple of days of purposeful toddler time provided the closeness and comfort she needed to feel secure and safe again, the whining ceased (at least for the time being. .. is there a cure for whining ALTOGETHER?!). And the second time was when we came home from my in-laws house in IN. My daughter got sick on the way to the airport (a 2 hour drive). I wore her over my pregnant belly, in a moby style wrap, through the airport, then sat in the next airport for SIX hours with a feverish and sick little girl tied to me. I was so thankful for knowing about baby wearing and practicing it, at those times, because again, it provided the comfort she needed in the moment. . .and STILL the ability to discretely nurse a very sick, nearly 3 year old while we waited in the airport for endless hours.

When my second one came along, a friend made me a Mei Tai, which was perfect for a newborn. I loved wearing her close, especially in the winter time. Christmas shopping with my four month old was a BREEZE, she would nurse when she wanted and sleep when she wanted. I remember blogging on our family blog about how my four month old had a napless day because I was busy preparing for a group of friends to come for the evening near Christmas, and I was so thankful when we finally went out to the store for some errands because I stuck her in the mei tai, nursed her the whole time I was shopping, and she even got some napping in too, while we also got snuggling and closeness. . . no buckets for us.
These days my little one is resistant to being carried. . . she's nearly 3.
It's hard on a mom when two kids are running in two directions in the store or want to be carried home from the park, but not be worn. . .
my six year old still requests wearing once in a while. Baby wearing has shaped our lives and I hope that my children carry on the practice with the own babies.

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