For a person like me who loves snuggly babies, gorgeous fabric, and the ease of hands-free mothering, babywearing has always been a perfect fit.
I had my first baby nine and a half years ago and had him in a sling from his first day of life. Here he is in a New Native Baby Carrier, loaned to me by my dear friend Laura. It felt so special to use a sling she'd used for her own little girl. I just love how all my babies have gazed up at my face while being worn in a sling.
I actually wrote about the experience of wearing my baby for Mothering Magazine in this article. I remember writing it all out in one inspired afternoon when I was feeling particularly sad and frustrated about constantly being asked why I didn't have him in a stroller yet. Strollers have their place....they're great for toddlers, helpful for carrying packages, and so forth. But I knew my baby was growing up fast, and I wanted to keep him as close as possible while he was still little. I don't regret a moment of it. Those years of babywearing are now imprinted on my heart.
Over the years I got to try many other carriers....wraps, fleece slings, Korean podaegis, soft structured carriers, Japanese carriers (onbuhimo), and mei tais. Different carriers worked well at different times or for different purposes - I just wore Anna in a Beco Butterfly while flying to Japan last week with my children, and being able to avoid using a stroller in an airport is a huge bonus. I've made some wonderful friends through the common bond of babywearing and other aspects of attached parenting. I also discovered that babywearing is a wonderful tool for Elimination Communication because when you wear your baby, you are able to be more responsive to the subtlest cues for everything - hunger, boredom, sleepiness, and elimination.
My favorite slings are made by WAHMs, moms who are savvy about babywearing, have worn their own babes, and have developed beautiful carriers whose designs are based on the collective and timeless wisdom of babywearing moms all over the world. As slings grew more trendy and popular, larger baby gear manufacturers started making their own slings to sell in larger stores. It's great that babywearing is on the rise, but there have long been concerns about the lack of quality standards out there which allows less safe baby slings out on the market. Of special concern are "bag slings" - they hold baby down low in a pouch with excessive fabric and elastic on the edges. In the wake of a few tragic infant deaths in bag slings, the CPSC issued a warning last week. Just yesterday, the manufacturer of the Infantino SlingRider, in which these deaths have occurred, recalled their slings. Here's information on the recall. And here's a statement by the makers of some of the best slings out there.
If you are interested in learning more about babywearing safety here are a couple of great links for you. Babywearing is one of my favorite parts about having a baby! Please take the time to learn how to wear your baby safely. Keep your baby close enough to kiss.