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From The Journal

Community

Dads in the babywearing community

By Liz Taylor; cover photo credit to Denise Köhler.

As babywearing continues its revival in the 21st century, more and more parents and caregivers are choosing it as a tool for their parenting toolkit. And, like all things with parenting, it’s not just the female caregivers becoming handy with this skill! So, I decided to put together a poll for dads who wear their children, to see if I could pick their brains a little. Not just about the where and why behind their decision to use this tool, but more importantly to shine a spotlight on this niche in the community. The responses were inspirational, humourous, and a good reminder that babywearing is not at all gender based!

So what did I learn? As it turns out - loads!

Babywearing is enjoyable

Dads not only use babywearing as a tool but they also enjoy it! Sometimes it’s easy to forget that our male counterparts need that bonding time just as much as mums do. An overwhelming majority of those I polled commented on the bonding and closeness they felt when wearing their child. One even remarked: ‘I enjoy the close contact with my son and the bond that keeping him close has helped create’.

Using a carrier isn’t just for women

Male parents and caregivers use carriers a lot more frequently than is perhaps widely recognised. Most who responded to the poll stated that they wear when out and about, doing activities such as going to the shops; one response even acknowledged just how important he finds babywearing in his relationship with his child. ’[I babywear] Anytime and anywhere I can. It gives me time with them and gives [Mum] a break’. This succinctly exemplifies how using a carrier is an excellent tool to help dads stay connected, and that it’s not just for mums!

It’s easy

Something that was repeated over and over again by these dads was how easy using a carrier was. And perhaps more surprisingly, dads are using a wide variety of carriers. Some use buckle carriers, some use ring slings, some use a combination; most answered that they use wraps! The type of tool isn’t important to these dads - what matters to them is that babywearing is being used to assist in their parenting.

It’s about being a team

Babywearing is also assisting these parents in not just meeting their children’s needs, but additionally their partner’s, in a multitude of ways. Whether it was wearing at the supermarket, or while on a family walk, or to help settle baby when Mum desperately needed some time out; babywearing is helping these Dads provide help around the home. I can personally recall a particularly poignant moment that signified the beginning of my husband’s parenting journey; after having a mini meltdown and retiring to a long bath one evening, I entered the kitchen much refreshed, to discover he had taught himself how to pop our daughter into the buckle carrier, and was cooking our dinner. One of the most overwhelmingly thankful moments in our relationship, where I was reminded that parenting is easier as a team.

Parental bonding is an understood and well referenced benefit of babwearing, regardless of age of child, gender of parent, or carrier being used. Yet for some reason, babywearing dads aren’t necessarily considered the ‘norm’. Although they may not be participating in the online babywearing environment, they’re still out there - doing their thing, being loving and supportive parents and partners, enjoying the lifelong benefits that using carriers provides.

As parents and caregivers, we need to recognise that babywearing dads are a wonderful and normal part of the community; not needing to be singled out for doing their jobs, but needing to be recognised as equals in a predominantly female population.

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