I began babywearing in 2003 when my daughter, Bella was born. My purple Maya wrap was undoubtedly the best baby gift I received. I found babywearing a natural step in parenting. It helped me bond, meet her needs, and was an aid in nursing when we were out. Two years later my son, Declan was born, and wearing him had the same advantages. However, my husband deployed to Iraq for 13 months and I had a toddler to keep up with as well as care for an infant. Babywearing took on a role of necessity in my parenting. Declan lived on my left hip in his sling. When my third child, Henry, arrived in 2007 it was again only natural that I wore him. He expressed a need to be carried longer than my other two children. At the time I found a carrier that was made for bigger children which offered toddler and preschool sizes.
My youngest will be five in two short weeks. Babywearing’s role in my family life is slowly coming to a close; however there are still times when it meets my children’s needs. I still keep a few carriers in the back of my car to lend out or to use in emergencies. I am thankful for this when my youngest is asleep when we get to the store. I can toss him on my back until he wakes up enough to get down and walk or ride in the cart. Recently we arrived at the store to find he did not have any shoes on: babywearing to the rescue. Another time a friend gave my son a cute pair of shoes that did not fit him, but he wanted to wear them on a day I needed to get all three children new clothes. After an hour he finally asked if he could be worn because his feet hurt. I was able to finish shopping because he was comfortable.
This summer we went blueberry picking with friends. Declan, who recently turned seven, became too hot and tired and wanted to leave. Our friends and his siblings were not ready to go. He asked me if he could get Henry’s carrier out of the car so I could wear him. I agreed and he snuggled on my back and we all finished picking blueberries and enjoying the day.
While I no longer have a baby to wear every day I can still occasionally use babywearing to meet my children’s needs. Even though it is not the same as wearing a small baby, there are still carriers and techniques one can use for older children. In those circumstances, babywearing, even with older children, is a powerful parenting tool.