Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Babywearing on the Babymoon

Ah, the babymoon.  Those lovely days and weeks post partum, where you have loads of help to clean and cook.  Lots of support, time to nap, and get to just spend time bonding with this wee little treasure you brought into the world.

Yeah, um, will somebody cue the needle-scratching-on-record stop to the music for me?

Babymoons are great, and babies are even greater, but the rest of the world keeps going, and lots of times you have to keep up.  Enter babywearing.

Take that first trip to the doctor.  Most babies will have at least one office appointment by the time they are two weeks old.  Wearing your infant comforts the wee one with your warmth and familiar smell.  It also prevents the gazillion germy people in the doctor's office from grabbing onto wee little hands or coughing in a tiny face.  If you have to nurse the baby in the waiting room, the fabric from a sling can be used under an elbow to prop baby up or draped to cover whatever you personally don't want exposed.  Your sling can also be used on the changing table or exam table to make baby more comfortable and provide a barrier between tender skin and hard surfaces. 

If you are not new to this having kids thing, there are older siblings to take care of.  Even if they adore the new baby, they will probably end up pretty irritated about having to wait all the time for this or that need of the baby to be taken care of.  When you are able to wear your baby, doing things with and for your older children becomes simpler.  Fixing a snack together, taking a walk, playing a game, even reading a book is easier with both hands free.  And if you are able to give those older siblings more focused and complete attention, they are going to be much less likely to be resentful of the new addition to the family.  And the older those older ones are, the more likely it is that you will be taking baby along to the soccer game, the dance class, or the Girl Scout meeting.  When baby is in a sling you are able to more actively participate, and more easily get everyone where they need to be.

And don't forget you!  No matter how you brought baby into the world, and no matter the size of your family, nutritious food and some exercise are essential.  And while we all have eaten something cold and straight out of a can in those first crazy post partum, babywearing means that putting together a tasty plate of food and grabbing something to drink is possible more often in the course of your day. 

Now, a few cautions.  Babywearing is a safe, beneficial thing for your baby, but ONLY if you do it right. Like everything else you do with this new little one, being careful and conscientious are key.  Get yourself a good sling that is meant for carrying infants.  Learn to use your carrier, and practice the type of carrying you plan to do.  It is a really good idea to work with a doll or teddy first, and then have someone there to act as a spotter when you start working with the baby.  Because of their lack of head control, a young infant needs better head and overall support than an older child. You have to be extra careful about making sure the infant is NEVER positioned chin to chest in the carrier, as this compromises the airway.  You should start with easy carries.  Tummy to tummy carries in a stretchy wrap, ring sling. or soft structured carrier designed for an infant are probably the most popular because they are easiest to do correctly and place baby in a natural habitat, on an adult's chest.   Go slow, be careful, and not expect everything to be perfect on your first try.  You'll get the hang of it, and everyone will benefit.

So enjoy the babymoon, and the weeks and months that follow.  Wear your baby, close to your heart, you'll never again have the chance to be this connected to one another.

Posted by Amy

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