Carolina, Likes, Parenting

Babywearing Culture

As first time parents, my husband and I were struggling to soothe our infant daughter while getting our tasks done around the hale. After several inquiries, but mostly at the recommendation of my sister-in-law, I was advised to look into acquiring a Ring Sling Wrap (RSW). Not knowing what this was, I googled it online. With the RSW, the tautness of the material is adjusted via two rings on your shoulder. You carry your baby in the wrap, which enables you to have your hands free. We chose two RSW, a Maya Wrap (Maya) and a Sakura Bloom (SB). My husband loves his cotton Maya, while I prefer the linen SB. Since our baby weighs less than 15lbs carrying her in the RSW is manageable. Several friends also suggested a Soft Structured Carrier (SSC), such as the Ergo Baby. We only started using our SSC as baby’s neck got stronger. The advantage of the SSC is that it’s great for hikes since it has padded shoulder straps.

During my pregnancy, my mother, the resourceful person that she is, would cut out articles to prepare me for motherhood. Sorting through them, I found one published by our local paper, Hilo Tribune Herald, on baby wearing. The article spoke of a local group (Big Island Babywearers) in Hilo that advocates for baby wearing and anyone interested could attend their monthly gatherings. Their contact information also included their Facebook page. I joined their online group, but also decided to join their play date/information session. Wow! I did not know that there were so many options to carry babies – from woven wraps, ring slings, soft structured carriers, to mei tais.

I am particularly interested in the woven wraps that are of varying lengths, and allow you to wrap your baby in several styles on your back, hip and front. Wrapping is ideal for all ages, from newborns to toddlers. I was pleasantly surprised to discover that many of these woven wraps are made in Europe. I recall traveling throughout South America and many of the indigenous women carried their babies in bright colorful mantas, too. I guess I never thought I would be one to carry my child in a wrap. But, now things have changed, and I am learning to adopt some of the practices from my forefathers.

I definitely am not an expert in baby wearing, nor knowledgeable of all the different woven wraps that are available, but can tell you that once you try one, you want one. As I started to research the usage of wraps, I found that wearing your baby is also beneficial for a baby’s development stimuli, but also creates a bond between child and parent(s). Baby wearing is a custom practiced by many other cultures around the world. In the US, we generally are prone to have our children be independent from the get go, and hence carrying them is looked upon as spoiling them. I am open to trying new methodologies of caregiving, so I will dive in.

Where do you buy these wraps? Many can be bought directly online from vendors’ abroad or within the US. But, several sweet mamas that I met through the BIB group prefer to buy “broken in” or used wraps from the Swap. There are several Swaps, but one of the largest one is on Facebook (Babywearing Swap), with over 13,000 members. It blew my mind that buying a wrap was an art, sort of like a bidding auction. There are so many different acronyms, brands, and sizes. After hemming and hawing, I chose a Didymos Lilies Zyklame/Purple, size 6 (4.6 meters long), made of 70% organic cotton and 30% silk. I am excited to start wrapping and I hope my little one is, too.