A Brief Babywearing History
Over the last 19+ years that I have been involved with the babywearing community, I have watched it morph and evolve in to what it is today. I have watched it from it’s humble beginnings, where caregivers would learn from a manual and go through months of trial and error before feeling comfortable with a carrier. Where those interested in wearing their babies would have to find like minded people on yahoo groups and then The BabyWearer to build any sort of community. I witnessed the transformation from predominantly soft packs to fabric carriers, from facing out as the norm to the formation of rules and regulations around babywearing and “optimal positioning.” I have witnessed and been a part of the community who blazed the trail for the community we have today. I am extremely proud of the roles I have held within the community since I began teaching in 2007, as well as the roles my peers occupy. I come to today’s babywearing community with empathy, a desire to understand, an openness to learn new things, and the knowledge of how and why we got where we are today.
The Babywearing Community Cares, Dammit!
The babywearing community cares, oh man do we ever care. And with so much caring, the community may have become slightly obsessed with rules. Novice and expert wearers freely share little nuggets of knowledge, information, and troubleshooting with new wearers daily online and in person. On one picture posted, you might get 10 different tidbits of information to work on to “perfect” your carry.
“Your baby needs to be in the M position, or they may get hip displaysia,” “Don’t face your baby out, or they will be overstimulated,” “Facing your baby out is incorrect,” “crotch dangler!!”,”Let me show you 100 different tie offs that will make your carry better,” “Excuse me? How did you pronounce that? Cultural appropriation!” The community is full of #randombabywearingrules that are grounded in misunderstandings and good intentions. Don’t forget what they say about good intentions. Truth be told, I am glad that I learned from a book… all the information on YouTube, Facebook, and even in person can be incredibly overwhelming.
With all that said, I don’t mean to say that helping someone is a negative (so if you’re a helper and reading this, my intention is not to offend), and often it is much appreciated and needed. The eagerness to help is fantastic… it’s just that sometimes we do need to check ourselves and make sure we’re not giving unsolicited advice or creating a babywearing culture based off of fear. So I am here today to share a little bit about what really matters when it comes to rules/safety.
Babywearing is Safe
First, let me just say that babywearing is inherently safe! Putting your baby on you in a carrier is literally the safest place your baby can be. Sometimes talking about babywearing safety can lead people to believe that babywearing is inherently unsafe, which is why my safety talks are a little different than you might expect. When I talk about safety, I am talking about the wearer falling, the baby falling out of the carrier, or the baby suffering asphyxia. Real safety is about life and death (or injury), not about optimal positioning.
The Only Rules That Matter
Okay, so here are the real things you need to make sure of while wearing your baby. Wait, I need to clarify. These are the only things you need to make sure of while wearing your baby in the typical North American carriers available (I am not referring to traditional carriers like the Amautik):
- Airway is open and protected by being supported
- Carrier holds baby high and tight
- Make sure baby is not in danger of freezing or overheating
- Child’s head is not completely covered
- Reposition baby after breastfeeding (this is a must, even if babe falls asleep)
If you make sure all of these things are looked after, you’re golden. We can work on comfort and all that other jazz in another blog post.
Wasn’t that easy?!
I think I got it
Okay, I think I’ve got it! Open and protected airway, high and tight, his head is not covered, definitely not going to freeze or overheat, and I need not even worry about repositioning after feeding this baby… he’s bowl fed. meow.