My road to babywearing wasn’t all that smooth. Way back when (when the dinosaurs roamed the earth, and my first child was born - in 2004), Dr. Sears told me that babies loved being worn because they felt like it was the comfort of the womb.
So, I went out and bought my Moby – my first babywearing sling. I was happy anticipating how easy this was going to be, and what joy it would bring. It was going to work like magic – or so I thought.
Round 1. The baby arrived safely at home. Things got off to a swimming start!
Just a few days after birth, I attempted the Moby. What? He’s crying? Why? This is supposed to be like the womb. “He” said it’s supposed to be like the womb. So I looked online and tried a bunch of holds – still crying. Plus, I was always paranoid he would fall out.
I took pictures and posted them on Mothering.com. I got some great advice – but still uncomfortable (physically and mentally) and he keeps crying.
I bought a Maya wrap – but all the fabric, and the rails. I couldn’t figure it out. Into the drawer with both of them. Carrying him in the car seat bucket was easier.
Round 2. Fast forward 4 years. Another home birth – off to another swimming start! YAY! Put her in the Moby – crying again.
Back into the drawer with the Moby – the bucket is easier – round two over.
Round 3. Determined to be smarter this time, I did some more internet research and found a popular and recommended online shop for custom ring slings. The fact that they were affordable was an added bonus. If you haven’t noticed, slings can be very expensive (depending upon fabric, embellishments, and length).
Baby Wearers International
I was telling the seamstress I bought the sling from about my story, and my concerns being plus size. She suggested that I attend a BWI meeting.
What’s BWI, I asked? <Sheepish grin>
BWI – is Babywearers International. Babywearing International is a non-profit organization with the sole purpose to encourage babywearing and make it a universally accepted practice.
So I searched for a chapter near me. It’s broken up into regions. I live in the Mid-Atlantic Region, so I scrolled down and found my area. Then, you click on your group and it shows you meeting times and locations.
These meetings are free. You just drop in. My first visit, I had baby in the bucket and my sling in hand. They helped me get the sling tightened and adjusted so everyone was comfortable. I left that meeting with my bucket in my hand and the baby in the sling! Guess what, even when they helped me, the baby still cried (maybe I wasn’t as babywearing incompetent as I thought). When he cried, we took him out. We didn’t force it. Later, I put him in again and he cried, so I took him out. After a week of short small practice babywearing sessions, he stopped crying and began to enjoy our time together.
Imagine that! After 3 baby’s – finally!
If you pay the nominal fee to join BWI, about $30 a year, you have access to their sling library – where they have a wide variety of slings that can then be loaned out to members. Members, bring them home, try them for a month – bring them back (clean)- and can get another one to try.
It’s try before you buy! What a money saver!
I paid my fee, and rented a Mei Tai for the month. I was completely clueless. I hadn’t heard of a Mei Tai. Well, I have never looked back. They are easy. They helped build my babywearing confidence. No wrapping around a thousand times, tying to and fro, or awkward contortions. It was so easy for me, and Gray loved it – almost instantly. Compared to the rails and the wraps – it’s a no -brainer – and, I believe, Mei Tai are the reason why I am still wearing Gray at 15 months.
Now, I can put Gray in my Mei Tai and go anywhere- with zero issues. He feels safe close to Mommy and enjoys riding along. It’s so easy to use when running errands, hiking, or on Homeschool co-op field trips.
It’s so simple to use Mei Tais.
I continued to comunte 45 minutes each way to attend BWI meetings. After I chose my sling and became confident, I attended meetings to learn more, to look at other slings, and to connect with other like-minded women in my area.
I’m not an expert, but being a plus size Mom – and wearing a baby was an issue. I didn’t like wraps. I could put on any Mei Tai in the library and it fit. For me, it was reassuring. I always had to get the biggest size in wraps and slings – and larger sized wraps were not carried in the sling library.
Just a note, a great number of shops that make and sell MeiTais do offer extra long straps. So, it’s important to go to your area BWI meeting and try different styles. Different styles will fit differently – and will cradle your baby differently. In the end, you may or may not need the extra long straps. It really depends upon the company.
If you have been disenchanted by babywearing or scared – I would encourage you to attend a BWI meeting, pay the fee so you can use the sling library – and rent a Mei Tai or two. You will see how much your life will be enriched because of it.
The Thing I learned from my BWI leader
1. It’s okay if he cries. It’s a new thing so it’s expected. He needs to get used to being carried. When he cries, take him out and try again.
2. Not every sling works for every woman/Baby combo. Try a number of different slings (Pay the fee) and see what works best. Body styles, fabrics, kinds of slings – all different. You have to spend the time to find the right one for you and your baby.
3. Make sure everything is tight. Good rule of thumb. When carrying on your front – if you can bend down and kiss his head, he is good.
I remember that advice and always perform the “kiss” test, even now.
Really Happy Mom and Baby
I am really happy with my decision. The Mei Tai has brought me so many blessings in my life.
We are meant to be held close and nurtured. Despite our culture promoting separation – we are made to hold our kids close. When I am cooking or teaching the kids, I can carry him with me. If he is fussy, I put him in the Mei Tai, and he calms down almost instantly. If he is tired and cranky, I put him in and he falls asleep – and stays asleep. I can take him out and lay him in the bed or keep him in.
I wish I had found a Mei Tai Sooner. It was such an integral part to forming our bond and strengthening our relationship. I hope that other women experience this as well.
Note: Carrying him for 15 months hasn’t spoiled him. It has actually made him more confident, more willing to play independently, try new things and be more adaptable to new environments.
Because he is assured that if he needs me, I will be there.
Upcoming Mei Tai Giveaway (Coming 12/4)
Before you go out and buy a Mei Tai, I have a giveaway coming up on December 4th. You can enter to win your very own woven Didymos DidyTai. It’s awesome. A woven Mei Tai, it’s perfect for newborns and bigger babies. The body style allows you to carry your newborn in the preferred position – legs in a wide straddle and deep squat from day 1.
It is really beautiful Mei Tai and is generously being sponsored by Adriane at Caribou Baby.