The End of Babywearing
My babywearing time has come to an end.
Dylan weighs around 50 pounds now, and I’ve reached the limit of my ability to carry him for anything longer than mere moments.
I loved babywearing so much. I tried out lots of different carriers – the Moby (my review), Baby K’tan (my review), Maya Wrap (my review), Ultimate Baby Wrap, Ultimate Baby Mei Tai, Baby Bjorn, an Ergo, and probably more. These were mostly ones that were given or loaned to me or that I picked up cheap here and there. When Dylan started to get heavier and more active, I sprung for a higher end mei tai, a Toddler Hawk. This was a fantastic buy that let me carry him all sorts of places and made us way more mobile as a team. We even had a couple of hiking excursions.
A baby carrier was a feminist object in my life. If at all possible, children should be cared for in the way that is biologically appropriate for them: in arms, breastfed, cosleeping. A society that does not make room for this kind of care for children is not a society that cares about children. Of course, there’s no reason that this care work must exclusively and totally be the role of the mother. Babies can be in fathers’ arms, grandparents, neighbors, or the arms of older children. They can cosleeep with any responsible sleeper. However, as things currently stand, this work is pretty much exclusively on mothers, whether by true choice or circumstance.
Providing the bulk of this care risks mothers being cut off from their regular interests, from the company of other adults, and from the other usual tasks of life. A baby carrier allows the baby the in-arms care without isolating and restricting the mother. It is my choice and our family’s economic privilege that allow me to provide the majority of Dylan’s care. Even in that situation, there’s a risk of social alienation and physical limitations. But with a carrier, I was able to keep doing basically everything I was already doing – errands, farm work, going to burns – while also carrying Dylan, because I had this great tool to make it easier on me. Frankly, in a society that was more focused on the health of infants and communities, there’s no reason a carer couldn’t take a baby in a carrier to most jobs. I won’t hold my breath on that one, but it would certainly be possible.
Joshua carried Dylan in a carrier, too. He liked using the Maya wrap and the Moby. We both got tons of use out of the Toddler Hawk. It was a great on-and-off carrier, easily adjustable to either of our bodies, and good for short bits or long treks.
If I could only choose one carrier, it would be a Moby. I used it with Dylan up to probably around 30 pounds. It’s primarily for front carries, but I also invented a way to use it like a ring sling for side and back-ish carries with an older child.
It’s good that Dylan’s physical capabilities kept up with his size, because I need his help for even simple tasks like getting him on the changing table. I taught him about holding hands so that we can still be in contact as we move from place to place, but carrying him around is just a physical impossibility these days. I even had to break down and buy a stroller for some uses!For an older, heavier child, I loved my Toddler Hawk. Maybe I would have loved a woven wrap, since I liked the Moby so much. I wasn’t going to pay for two expensive carriers, though, so I chose the ease of the Mei Tai style since I wanted it for daily, anytime use.
Beyond the practicality of a carrier, it helped us be emotionally close, too. There were so many sweet moments when Dylan would fall asleep on me in a carrier. So many times that we could do an activity together facilitated by a carrier. So much closeness between us all the time. Babywearing, breastfeeding, and cosleeping are the trifecta of our intimacy as a dyad. Babywearing is the first one to go, and there’s certainly a twinge of sadness for me.
Babywearing was a short period of time in the overall span of Dylan’s life and my time as a parent, but it was a really sweet time, wonderfully bonding, and I’m going to miss it.