Monday, August 18, 2014

Babywearing in the Garden

Summer vegetable gardening season is starting to wind down, but hopefully your garden is still producing tasty tomatoes, peppers, herbs, and maybe a late crop of berries. For those without a garden, U-Pick farms are still producing fresh peaches and blackberries for you to harvest.

Gardening (or harvesting) while wearing your baby is a wonderful way to bond while enjoying the great outdoors together AND providing nutritious food for your dinner table. Any style of carrier can be used while gardening, though some carriers (and types of carries) have unique advantages to allow for range of motion for the wearer and comfort for the baby.

 Let’s explore some of the major carrier types and their advantages and disadvantages.
SSCs are wonderful no-fuss carriers. They allow for quick ups and downs, which may be helpful for a toddler who wants to participate in harvesting, but who may also need some snuggles or help walking to and from the garden. Two-shoulder front, hip and back (for infants that can sit upright) carries are possible. Back carries are advantageous for keeping baby comfortable during frequent bending. However, some may find that SSCs are not ideal for long periods of gardening, as baby may tend shift with frequent bending by the wearer (SSCs are the least-customizable carriers from a fit perspective).


A more customizable fit for wearing while gardening.  As with SSCs, front, hip and back carries are possible with a mei tai. For back carries, wearers have the option of tying backpack-style straps or crossing the straps in front. In the second photo below, the straps are crossed high on the wearer’s chest. This may not be comfortable for everyone, but he found that it afforded him greater range of motion for picking, weeding, etc. As a bonus, baby often falls asleep while being worn this way in the garden. Similar two-shouldered back carries may also be accomplished with a woven wrap (discussed below), podaegi, or onbuhimo. However, some may find that range of motion is still compromised when gardening with a two-shoulder carry, and there may still be fit/shifting issues with a mei tai.

Provides for full range of motion with one arm, which can be especially useful for harvesting. As with SSCs, ring slings and pre-tied rebozo carries can be used for quick ups and downs, which may be helpful at U-Pick farms. However, some may find asymmetrical carries uncomfortable, with the weight-bearing shoulder tiring quickly.


Front, multilayer carries with a woven wrap are very secure and (arguably) easiest to execute, because the wearer has good control of the wrap placement on the baby. The two-shoulder carry distributes the weight evenly and the woven wrap allows for the most customizable fit. However, a front carry may be uncomfortable for repeated bending by the wearer, as baby’s weight hangs downward on the wearer’s chest – this may also be uncomfortable for baby!


Woven wraps allow for high back carries, which can provide baby a better view of the garden or farm, and may even allow them to reach up and help with harvesting! Baby may also fall asleep easily despite repeated bending by the wearer, as the back provides a supportive surface for a snooze. Again, some wearers may find that a two-shoulder carry restricts range of motion, but using a carry that pulls the straps away from the shoulders (e.g. front wrap cross carry or ruck tied Tibetan) can help with this. Back carries with woven wraps may also be challenging to accomplish for less experienced, or physically limited wearers.


This type of carry provides the greatest range of motion, with both shoulders unrestricted to harvest, weed, etc. more efficiently. Note that a torso carry can be accomplished in front or back (though back may be more comfortable), and can also be done with a woven wrap or mei tai, podaegi, or onbuhimo. Some may find a torso carry uncomfortable, or not as supportive as a one or two-shoulder carry.
As always, we encourage you to join us in person at a Babywearing International of DC-MD-VA meeting, so that our leaders can provide you with more specific help.

 Hope you’re as excited as we are about the fall harvest season!


(Thanks to Shannon, Pamm and Rosemary for the gardening photos.)



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