Adventures in babywearing

There’s something that’s close to my heart that I want to discuss with you. It’s as close to my heart as the subject of breastfeeding is but I won’t bother you with the latter again…at least for some time. What’s on my mind right now is babywearing. And by babywearing I mean carrying one’s baby in a sling or a carrier, like one would wear a bag, basically.

I’ve had baby carriers for both Maia and Robin but never used them. I’m referring to carriers of the Ergo kind (though I never had an actual Ergo). With Maia, it just collected dust until I donated it to a friend. With Robin, it was always the husband who used them (an aside…how yummy is a man carrying a baby in a carrier?!) because my neck and shoulders just couldn’t take the weight. Then, when Robin was eight months old, a very generous friend gave us her old Liberty ring sling to try out (thanks again Emma!).

Epiphany! Eureka! I could carry a very heavy baby (little did I know how much heavier she’d be getting), have two free hands and feel no pain at all.

Not only that, but Robin loved it so much she napped and nursed in it for months after that. I still use it everyday, preferring not to lug around the pushchair unless I know we’ll be walking for more than half an hour. And, let’s face it, that rarely happens on an island this size.

What I’ve noticed, however, is that I am stared at a lot. It might be my months-old roots or my dark circles attracting all the attention but I am starting to think it’s because wherever I go, I tend to be wearing Robin. I started feeling very self-conscious last week while running to the school gate before it closed, holding Maia’s hand in one hand, her lunch bag in the other, and Robin squealing while she bobbed up and down in her sling. Every person in the street turned to look at us and one not so subtle lady stopped in her tracks to stare at us open-mouthed. At which point I stopped running and, trying to catch my breath, asked Maia whether my top was hitched up or whether I had food smeared across my face. She did a quick check and assured me I looked presentable, if a tad flustered. So I had to confirm what I had been suspecting for months.

They just can’t get over the babywearing thing.

I thought long and hard about it and realised that none of the parents I know (except for the expats living here) wear their babies. Which made me wonder why. Why why why? It’s one of the things I’ll miss most of Robin’s babyhood. I love holding her close, feeling her breath on my neck, smelling her hair, feeling her relax and lean her head on my shoulder. All this while going about my business, carrying bags, pushing supermarket trolleys, paying at the till or loading the car.

So I’m asking anyone who has an explanation for the lack of babywearing on these islands (or anywhere else you know of) to come forward. Is it a fear of spoiling the baby (I strongly suspect that might be one of the top reasons with fellow islanders)? Does it look too complicated? What is it?!

 

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8 Comments

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  1. I loved the sling until my long legged beastie started kicking my knees lol. I could still carry Sam when he was 4. I couldn’t have got Sam to school every day on the old busses with out having Tom in the sling and traveling solo internationally with littlies would have been impossible. As for why people don’t use them here I’m not really sure probably the same reasons that people don’t use cloth nappies here lack of information. In the uk they have sling libraries where you can borrow different styles so you know what suits you before you buy and local councils give vouchers to new parents to buy cloth nappies and run nappy schemes. Maybe it’s something Eco Gozo should look into?

  2. I love baby slings! But never managed to carry my son after he reached about 10kgs!! I also never managed to do much housework while I wore him, but it was definitely a life saver for walks and the supermarket! I also got loads of stares, loads!! I think it s just not so common, to see women wearing babies! I remember thinking that people in my village never saw a baby sling! Maltese people seem to be fans of pushchairs, which I myself am not a fan of at all!!

  3. I love wearing Jack. When he was small I used a Sakura Bloom sling, which I still use when I am dressed up and wearing him, because the sling is so beautiful. For everyday wearing, I use the Ergo. Jack weighs 25 lbs and I can hike for miles in comfort with the Ergo. I have started to get questioned by strangers as to “how long are you going to carry him? He looks like he should be carrying you.” I love carrying him and plan to for as long as I can. Not only is it so much more convenient than breaking out the stroller, it is so sweet to hold my boy so close.
    When he is going through a transition (like moving him in to his own bed, from ours) I make sure that we have extra time with him in the carrier, because I feel like it is such a bonding experience.

  4. I wonder whether it has anything to do with the heat. I loved wearing Emily (even if just around the house, it was often the only way dinner got made!) and intend on wearing this next baby lots, but I do worry it may get quite hot (for both me & him!)

  5. i loved this.. i totally agree. slings are the best. and my goodness— they might be staring because you are one gorgeous mama!! 🙂

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