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Traditions: Babywearing

You will probably find that most of my hobbies and interests lately revolve around being a mom and having a baby. For a little while I was nearly obsessed with cloth diapers (can you say, “stalking online diaper stores with limited-edition diaper releases at 3am?!”). I’ve read lots of books and articles on breastfeeding and where and how and why, and I’ve researched the heck out of when to start babies on solid foods. Ask me any question about parenting and I’ve probably read something or formed some opinion on the matter! However, for our first installment of our Traditions series, I would like to focus on my newest baby-related passion: Babywearing.

The term “babywearing” was first coined by notable baby-guru Dr. William Sears after he discovered the Ring Sling, first invented by Rayner Garner in Hawaii in 1980. Both Dr. Sears and Garner saw the benefit of keeping babies close while still allowing for adequate development of the child as well as range of motion for the mother. However, way prior to these modern, marketed forms of babywearing, mothers across the globe, mostly in traditional cultures, saw and put into practice the many benefits of babywearing.

This is certainly one instance where reverting to traditional ways of life has been a boon to my life in this 21st century. Eila, for one, is a much happier girl when she is being held. Holding her as often as she would wish, however, is not an option! Not only would I not get anything done, but I would probably turn into a couch potato as well because that girl is a chunk! Enter babywearing into our lives. While there are considerably more guidelines and regulations to babywearing today than there may have been way back when in traditional cultures, the concept remains the same: Keep them close. Considering babies spend the first nine months of their life in such a warm, close, nurturing place as a womb, it makes perfect sense why we should strive to maintain that earthside as well!

The benefits of babywearing are innumerable, but I’ll try to name a few! Unlike sitting her in a playpen or exersaucer, I know that Eila is safe and comfortable 24/7. No need to stop what I’m doing to run check on her or peer around the corner of her room when she suddenly goes silent. Eila is with me constantly and I always know she is safe and cared for! Her body is always positioned properly according to her physical development, and she completely avoided getting a flat head because she wasn’t laying down all the time!

The opportunities for her to learn while on my back are great, too. She is a very observant little girl and loves watching me do almost anything, from writing a blog post to crocheting or carving leather or folding laundry. Having her close by, and close enough to see what I am doing, gives her a leg up on life and understanding more new things. My goal is for her to mimic me and know how to do laundry as soon as she can walk. 😉

And probably my favorite reason to babywear is found in times like today, as Eila isn’t feeling too well and has been having trouble sleeping due to a stuffy nose. I am able to wrap her onto my chest, monitor her breathing, snuggle with her, and rock her gently to sleep, all largely hands-free! Feeling her warmth and smelling her sweet baby breath brings joy to my heart, something I would definitely miss out on if I was stressed out and struggling to get her to lay down and nap.

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Before Ben and I even thought seriously about having kids, we would fill our evenings and dinnertime conversation with how we would want to raise them. One of our biggest desires was not to have a child-centered home. This meant that even after having kids, we would put each other first and maintain that the most important relationships in our home were first our relationship with God, and then with each other. Putting that into practice has certainly been a challenge, but I am confident that babywearing has helped us accomplish this goal. Having Eila strapped to my back means I am free to do what needs to be done to be the best wife I can be without neglecting our daughter’s needs. It teaches her patience, but doesn’t let her feel neglected. By wearing Eila, she is learning that she can’t always be the center of attention, but she isn’t left alone while I am doing other things, either.

The reasons to wear your baby are endless, but these are just the few that are currently on my heart and mind. Babywearing is a great tool for any parent or caregiver, and it has been such a blessing in our home! This tradition is definitely making a comeback in our culture, and I look forward to implementing the tradition of babywearing with all of our children!