I hear it all the time, from real-life friends and readers at Kitchen Stewardship:
“I tried that babywearing stuff, but my baby just didn’t like it. It wasn’t worth the fussing, so I just gave up.”
Breaks my heart.
Those same mamas will often admit their struggles with getting things done around the house, babies who don’t sleep “down” very well and need to be held or rocked, and how hard it is to get their baby to be independent.
I wish I had someone to come over and hold the baby for a while to give me a break! I can hardly even pee by myself…
Raise your hand if you’ve been there, mamas!
And dads too – now that my husband is working at home, he said the other day, “I took the bouncy chair into the bathroom and Gabe was happy for all of 30 seconds…can’t get much done in 30 seconds!”
It’s been interesting watching him adapt to parenting more 24/7, and it’s not been an easy transition for him.
So I get it.
I know the feeling of having to hold a baby all. day. long.
And that’s why I feel sad for you when you give up on babywearing too soon. It truly may not that the baby doesn’t like it – it’s that you haven’t tried hard enough.
You Can’t be as Bad as Me!
I’m pretty sure my first child nursed 18 hours a day for the first month or two.
I was SO proud of myself when he was three weeks old – we made banana bread! It “only” took 45 minutes to get it in the oven, and it took the rest of the day to prepare dinner, but it was an accomplishment.
And it was because I had a sling.
Looking back at the vivid memory I have of that baby’s tiny head sticking out the side of the sling, by my hip, and my constant effort throughout the “baking” process to guard and protect it from hitting the counters, I clearly was using it all wrong.
Like, really, really wrong!
But it still served a function and allowed the two of us, however uncomfortably and slightly dangerously, to bake together.
And that’s a lovely picture, dangling baby head and all.
The babywearing police are gasping in horror at this picture, I bet! I hadn’t gotten much safer in the first 8 months, apparently. (Just as much as the real food nazis are having conniptions about the trans-fat laden boxed crackers there…)
It Doesn’t Take 45 Minutes to Bake Banana Bread Anymore
I’ve come a long way from that awkward kitchen experience, and in the ten years of babywearing that I’ve enjoyed since then, I’ve gotten to talk to a lot of people about slings, wraps, and carrying my babies.
The older generation marvels at my little “floating head” when my 0-6-month-olds are hanging out with me in the Moby Wrap.
They think he’s so cute, and they almost invariably say something like, “I wish we had those when my babies were little...” in the tone of voice of the classic, “We walked ten miles to school, uphill both ways, in snow as deep as our nose…kids these days!”
The younger generation notices our babywearing too, and whenever a parent with a youngster in tow even catches my eye when I’ve got someone in a sling, I tend to go on about how wonderful babywearing is and how everyone should try it!
I end up meeting a lot of young parents who have carriers still in packages tucked in the corner of the nursery, others who brush off the whole idea with a curt, “Oh I could just never do that,” and many with the excuse, “Tried it, just didn’t like it.”
This one is for you, O parents whose arms are sore, patience thin, and dinner halfway finished:
If you can’t see the video above, click babywearing tips to see it on YouTube.
I was sure to make the video as short as I could. In fact, I made it three times, as short as I could (that’s how things go with babies, I’m sure you understand).
But even though it’s short, I’ll type out the tips below.
Because I understand you, too.
You probably have a sleeping baby on your lap, and if you start that video, the sound might wake them up, and then you have to start. all. over.
Here they are…
The 5 Tips for Parents Who Say “My Baby Just Doesn’t Like the Sling”
- Time it right. Practice babywearing when baby is happy – well-fed, well-rested, clean diaper, good mood.
- Stand up. Even babies who love being in a sling tend to hate it when the wearer is sitting.
- Start moving. Babies love being rocked and swayed, and even more so when in a carrier.
- Butt bump. There’s something about a little medium-strength pat-pat on the bum that can “reset” baby’s crankiness. Sometimes.
- Try, try again. If we are willing to try feeding baby peas, sweet potatoes, or sticky egg yolks ten times until they like it, why not give the same courtesy to babywearing? It doesn’t even make a mess you have to wash off the high chair tray for no good reason. Just keep trying, at least ten times on different days.
Bonus tip: If all else fails and the sling or carrier you’re trying really isn’t a good fit either for you or baby, try a different kind. There are ring slings on one shoulder, wraps of all kinds, front/back carriers (the ergonomic, hip-safe kind only, please) and other variations with ties, buckles, and more. More on various carriers and my thoughts on them next week, plus resources to find them all!
For example, my friend and her little guy didn’t love our ring sling but borrowed the Ergo and found the perfect match. Baby was happy, and the family could eat real food instead of a frozen dinner.
Try, try again.
These 5 tips work for ALL baby carriers, not just ring slings like I was using in the video.
You got this one, exhausted parents.
But what if you try all that and YOU don’t like carrying the baby?
PS – Please be sure to visit http://www.babywearinginternational.org/ for important tips on safe carries and proper sling positioning.