There is nothing quite like the feeling of wearing a newborn. The emotions evoked when we follow the biological norm of keeping our child close can best be categorised as overwhelming, all encompassing love. Their sweet ‘newborn’ smell; their little body snuggled into you; being able to hear their snuffles and sighs; all contribute to the wonderful experience of babywearing a freshly born child.
The thought of babywearing a newborn can be confronting for some, and worrisome for others. What if your baby doesn’t like being worn? What if you create ‘bad’ habits by wearing your baby? What carrier should you choose? And how do you use them? These are all common thoughts that a new babywearer with a new baby may encounter when considering this tool for their toolkit.
Here are some tips and hints that may help alleviate concerns and assuage fears in newcomers to the world of babywearing.
If you’ve decided you’d like to babywear, but don’t know where to start, doing some research on the different types of carriers available to you will assist you in your purchase. Babywearing meets can help with this (see below for more details on meets), and Facebook ‘101’ beginner groups are also useful. If you’re not on Facebook, and don’t wish to attend a meet, there is a previous article from an earlier journal issue on carriers you can find here.
Sounds simple in theory, right? But those of us who have more experience in babywearing remember all too well the fears and concerns of being a new parent, or caregiver, of a small infant who is completely dependent on you!
In terms of babywearing, regardless of what type of carrier you are using, there will be a learning curve. You are learning a new skill; one that will provide lasting results for you, right up until toddlerhood and beyond! But as with learning any new skill, learning to babywear will take time. You will likely experience occasions where you lose patience, get frustrated, and want to give up. You may even find that your little wearee is feeling frustrated at being worn too! At times like this it is a good suggestion to take a break, take a few deep breaths, and try to relax. You can always try again at another time!
We say it frequently in our online journal; babywearing meets are a wonderful way to connect with the wider babywearing community in your area. Not only are you able to get ‘hands-on’ advice with your infant and carrier, and assistance with safety considerations, but you’ll also be able to connect with other parents and caregivers. This is a wonderful way to slowly engage in life outside of your house with a new baby, and meet new people. To find your nearest babywearing group, simply search online. Babywearing groups usually have a Facebook group attached, which is a good place to start looking.
We also recognise that sometimes babywearing meets aren’t available, or not for your personal circumstances. So, if you’re a parent or caregiver with internet access, at home with your newborn and trying to learn how to babywear, YouTube tutorials are a wonderful resource at your fingertips. And there are a myriad of options available to you, for all carrier types! Try searching for your type of carrier (e.g. stretchy wrap, ring sling etc.), along with the word ‘newborn’ in the YouTube search engine, and select a few different tutorials to watch. Inevitably, you will come across one (or even more if you’re lucky!) that will assist you from home.
Practise - but not perfect!
You’ve possibly seen someone else babywearing before, whether it’s a friend or family member, someone in public, or even in the media. Their wrap job is crisp; their ring sling is precise; their buckle carrier fits like a glove. But the ‘perfect’ carry isn’t something that should be strived for when wearing your newborn. A bit of slack, which doesn’t affect the overall safety of the carry, is completely acceptable. Try not to be on the search for perfection; instead, try to concentrate on the basic safety elements of keeping your wearee secure. The rest will fall into place over time (and practise!). For further information on basic safety elements, refer to this previous journal article.
Do what works
Should you find that your new baby enjoys being worn for lengthy periods of time, do not fear that you are creating ‘bad’ habits and despair! It is natural for babies to enjoy being snuggled in a carrier, as they gain comfort and security from being kept close. It is also normal for them to sleep when being worn - and some babies will only sleep when being worn! Countless more experienced babywearers will assure you that this is not only to be expected, but is a blessing. There is nothing more satisfying than the feeling of getting a restless baby into a sound sleep!
There are occasions, however, when babywearing may not work for you and your wearee. This is ok too! Remember, babywearing is a tool of many for your parenting toolkit; it doesn’t have to be the only tool you use. So with all this in mind, do what works for you and your family.
There are a multitude of other hints and tips we could include in this article, but we hope this gives you a reassuring starting point for your babywearing journey. If you’d like to continue this discussion, feel free to join one of Ankalia’s official chatter groups on Facebook:
Enjoy every moment of the magical experience of having a newborn; sadly, these moments are all too fleeting as our children grow so quickly!
Ankalia respects Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and cultures. We acknowledge past, present and future Traditional Owners of the land that we work on.
Ankalia’s online journal is written and edited by white Australian women. As such, our articles are written from our cultural standpoint.
To understand and improve our knowledge of the practice of babywearing across a varied dynamic, we may seek input from our friends and peers who identify as belonging to culturally and linguistically diverse groups, and groups who are marginalised within our society.
We aim to be insightful, meaningful and respectful of those who identify as belonging to these groups at all times. If we publish something that you feel is inappropriate or offensive, please bring it to our attention promptly. We are still learning and are mindful of our privilege.