Posted by: Admin | April 5, 2011

My thoughts on baby carrying practices


“I am having a baby! Oh, my! I have to hurry and buy a stroller, a car seat, a crib, an exerciser/activity center, a small lay-down chair, a stationary play area, a swing, a jolly jumper, a playpen, a play mat, a booster seat, a high chair…”. This is our 2011 reality. The latest thing in the baby accessory market is the car seat that fits in the stroller and that can be used as a simple baby chair anywhere. But unfortunately, we see babies who do not leave those car seats for a good part of the day. Think of this: a couple is going shopping in town for the day. Early morning, the baby is breastfed, dressed and put in his car seat in preparation for the departure. A winter cover can be placed over him for when he will be taken outside. Once in the car, the chair is clasped to the base and off everyone goes. Then, once they have arrived at their destination, there is no need to take the baby out of the car seat as it comes off its base and can be clasped securely to the stroller. And off we go shopping! Many times, parents will bottle-feed babies directly in this car seat. Then back in the car he goes for the return trip home. In all this time, maybe a good 6 to 8 hours, this baby was probably held only for the short time needed to change his diaper.

Even though the car seat seems practical, it is not made to carry the baby around all day. This practice is dangerous as (1) babies are sometimes positioned in a way that does not allow them to breathe properly, and (2) it prevents the baby from getting the most important thing he needs to develop his emotional intelligence: being carried and touched!

Knowing this, right after my daughter’s birth, I held her skin-to-skin for the first few weeks. If I had to be away from her, my husband replaced me. Then, I always carried her, held her in my arms, slept with her. We were never apart. When we went out, I carried her in a baby wrap! A baby wrap is not a sandwich…LOL. It is a long and narrow piece of cloth that is used to “bind” the baby to his mother. A wrap allows the mother to move around with both her arms free while carrying her baby close to her. She can use it in the house to do household chores or outside when taking a walk or going to visit a friend. In the big city, shopping in malls is much easier with a baby wrap. No more hassles with a stroller that will not get through the aisles!

The wrap has many advantages for a baby: he has his mother’s warmth, her smell, and her touch, her voice (we always touch our babies when we wear them…). A baby turned towards his mother (this is how we should wear them for the first year) will also benefit from her eye contact, her smile and her reactions to the world. He will learn how to behave socially through her actions. Her responses to people’s words or actions will allow the baby to develop better.

There are security measures to abide by when using a wrap. A wrap has the advantage of not having any mechanisms, buckles or snaps so they can not break or be faulty. However, you must always make sure you are wearing the wrap properly and that the knots are tied solidly. In fact, how you wear the wrap and tie your knots is very important ! For example, your baby should always be upright, never in a laying-down position, and should never have his face covered by the wrap. A wrap is also good for your baby’s hips. Your baby needs to be in a frog-like position, with his bum always  placed lower than the rest of his body  and his legs bent and higher than his bum. Then, with your baby attached to you in the wrap you can go about your chores and activities, but you need to make sure that what you do is safe: never cook while carrying your baby in a wrap or a carrier, and be careful how you move so you do not hit your baby’s head on an open door or a table corner when you bend down. When out for a walk, move slowly and always choose paths that are smooth and free of bumps. Be careful not to overdress your baby in the summer or not to under dress him in the winter! And make sure you start “wearing” your baby as soon as he is born and continue regularly. This will ensure that your back muscles build up according to his weight gain. Luckily, it is easier for your body to wear a baby in a wrap than in a regular carrier as a wrap holds your baby’s weight closer to your body and so, it is as if he becomes a part of you. In a regular baby carrier, your baby’s weight always pulls away from you, and you constantly need to compensate – but not in a wrap.

Baby carrying in Eeyou Itschee was frequent in the old days. Babies were usually wrapped on their mother with a Scottish scarf. It seems that this approach is still used sometimes in the Cree coastal communities. About a year ago, Eeyou Itschee’s nine clinics started distributing a baby wrap to all new mothers. As it is a little difficult to know how to use the wrap, an instructional DVD is given with each one. If you do not have a wrap or a video, call your clinic!

Women have carried their babies since the beginning of humanity, and women all over the world still do it. Here is a blog that shows many interesting pictures of babies being carried in different cultural settings:

http://9davids.blogspot.com/2011/02/babywearing-through-ages.html

🙂

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Responses

  1. We are so happy to direct traffic off our facebook page here. Really good post! Keep up the great work!

  2. Anyone who asks me WHY I wrap my child or WHY she has NEVER been in a stroller or WHY we don’t use one of those infant car seats is being directed to THIS post from now on. Bravo!!

    • Hi!

      I am happy you like this blog! It is for mothers like you, with a huge heart, that I write. Thank you for letting me know how much you like the post. I looked up your blog. I love it! Continue your lifetime mommy’s work and enjoy every minute! Good luck to you and your partner!

      Dany


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