Close Enough to Kiss

For a person like me who loves snuggly babies, gorgeous fabric, and the ease of hands-free mothering, babywearing has always been a perfect fit.

I had my first baby nine and a half years ago and had him in a sling from his first day of life. Here he is in a New Native Baby Carrier, loaned to me by my dear friend Laura. It felt so special to use a sling she'd used for her own little girl. I just love how all my babies have gazed up at my face while being worn in a sling. 

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I actually wrote about the experience of wearing my baby for Mothering Magazine in this article. I remember writing it all out in one inspired afternoon when I was feeling particularly sad and frustrated about constantly being asked why I didn't have him in a stroller yet. Strollers have their place….they're great for toddlers, helpful for carrying packages, and so forth. But I knew my baby was growing up fast, and I wanted to keep him as close as possible while he was still little. I don't regret a moment of it. Those years of babywearing are now imprinted on my heart.

Over the years I got to try many other carriers….wraps, fleece slings, Korean podaegis, soft structured carriers, Japanese carriers (onbuhimo), and mei tais. Different carriers worked well at different times or for different purposes – I just wore Anna in a Beco Butterfly while flying to Japan last week with my children, and being able to avoid using a stroller in an airport is a huge bonus. I've made some wonderful friends through the common bond of babywearing and other aspects of attached parenting. I also discovered that babywearing is a wonderful tool for Elimination Communication because when you wear your baby, you are able to be more responsive to the subtlest cues for everything  - hunger, boredom, sleepiness, and elimination. 

My favorite slings are made by WAHMs, moms who are savvy about babywearing, have worn their own babes, and have developed beautiful carriers whose designs are based on the collective and timeless wisdom of babywearing moms all over the world. As slings grew more trendy and popular, larger baby gear manufacturers started making their own slings to sell in larger stores. It's great that babywearing is on the rise, but there have long been concerns about the lack of quality standards out there which allows less safe baby slings out on the market. Of special concern are "bag slings" – they hold baby down low in a pouch with excessive fabric and elastic on the edges.  In the wake of a few tragic infant deaths in bag slings, the CPSC issued a warning last week. Just yesterday, the manufacturer of the Infantino SlingRider, in which these deaths have occurred, recalled their slings. Here's information on the recall. And here's a statement by the makers of some of the best slings out there.

If you are interested in learning more about babywearing safety here are a couple of great links for you. Babywearing is one of my favorite parts about having a baby! Please take the time to learn how to wear your baby safely. Keep your baby close enough to kiss. 

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24 thoughts on “Close Enough to Kiss

  1. Sheryl

    I feel like my kids were raised in the “dark ages” even though they’re only in their 20s now. So many things have changed and developed since then. If this had been around, I would have been a huge fan. After all, we’re holding our babies inside our bodies for so very long; why can’t they be almost as close to us after they’re born? Love, love, the photos~!

    Reply
  2. MarthaAndMe

    I had a baby carrier, not really a sling, more like a backpack/frontpack thing and my babies hated it. So I ended up just carrying them in my arms. It bothers me when I see parents lugging their babies around in their carseats.

    Reply
  3. Peggy Bourjaily

    I carried baby girl until she was so big my back nearly broke in two. I just loved it and am saddened that this recall may scare many parents away from babywearing.
    The picture of your daughter is darling.

    Reply
  4. Becca

    I’m wearing my 14 month old in our Ergo right now!
    I, too, love baby carrying and have delighted in the way that it has punctuated my mothering journey. I am an infrequent blogger, but one of my first posts was very in sync with your post and your Mothering article (http://listeningandlaundry.blogspot.com/2009/05/slings-thing.html). I just looked back at it and realized that my family has moved through a few chapters since then!
    I’ve been sadden by the recent recall news. That babywearing now may be scary for many new mommas strikes me as such a loss. Thank you for putting your positive, nurturing experiences out there as an antidote!

    Reply
  5. Roxanne @ Champion of My Heart

    That last picture is just too cute. I’m not a mommma, so no chances to carry a baby this way, but I did once meet a woman in a wheelchair whose tiny service dog (an Italian Greyhound) spent time in a sling close to her. The woman had issues with body temp regulation, and the dog was both companion and warming aid. It was very sweet.

    Reply
  6. Jennifer Margulis

    I think that the recall news is not a bad thing but a good thing because it has gotten more people talking about babywearing. I have a 4.5 month old and she’s been in the running stroller just twice so far. We use an Ergo Baby Carrier, a Baby Bjorn, and an African-inspired back thingy to carry her. It really is so precious and RIGHT to have the baby right there with you, so you can smell her little head and hear her breathing. Humans thrive off touch and the more we wear our babies the more we touch them. I see SO MANY people carrying their children in plastic bucket car seats and putting them in plastic strollers and that makes me sad… At the same time, my husband just hurt his back and the baby is getting heavy and it’s getting harder to wear her. Not everyone has a strong enough back for wearing a baby. That said, it’s so so sweet and I can’t bear to think that one day Leone will be too big to carry close enough to kiss.

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  7. Melanie

    Being a baby-free person, I hadn’t heard about the recalls. It makes perfect sense to me that mums would want to wear their babies like that and it is sad that shoddy construction has caused tragedies and may put some women off what seems to be a hugely natural way to carry an infant.

    Reply
  8. stephanie

    I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE my carriers! With our oldest, I carried her in the BJorn a lot. Then when we had our second, I was given a Mai Tai and loved it! By the time our third arrived, I was in love with the Beco and Ergo! I suppose he was too, as he always fell asleep! Yes, to get in and out of an airport and airplane without a stroller IS an amazing accomplishment. I’ve always traveled that way — seems to make perfect sense to have them CLOSE at all times! The bond the children and I share cannot be put into words. I think being carried and close has created a bond that is indescribable. I don’t know how I could have survived without my carriers! Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

    Reply
  9. sarah henry

    may i borrow your children? how adorable are they? and such gorgeous photos.
    that first one made me get all clucky!
    i wore my boy too, and he’s almost 12 now and soon to be taller than me.
    i have such fond memories of keeping him close, something he seemed to enjoy, as we walked for miles up and down the streets of san francisco. like his mum, he liked to keep moving. still does.
    i was so sorry to hear about the recent tragedies with slings. but it would be such a shame to outlaw having your baby on board. it’s such a wonderful way to bond with your baby.

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  10. Susan

    Awww, those photos are adorable! It’s interesting that several other commenters said “I wish they had babywearing when my kids were little.” Haven’t mothers been doing this for centuries? It seems so natural and almost primal. Maybe it fell out of favor when strollers were invented? I’d be interested in a bit of the history of babywearing.

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  11. MyKidsEatSquid

    I’m with Susan, what gorgeous pictures and cute kids. I was surprised to hear about the recall–what a tragedy. I never used slings myself. I bought a baby Bjorn on #1 and never looked back. I loved the Bjorn–still haven’t been able to give it away.

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  12. Nancy

    I too, was worried that the recalls would discourage some people from using slings.
    I also started out with the New Native six years ago and I have so many fond memories of carrying my daughter for hours every day. Six years isn’t long, but where I live it was still considered a bit funky by other mom friends and by our extended family.
    My husband had an important hearing in Washington D.C. 4 years ago, and I carried our newborn son in a sling into the Senate hearing room. My one regret is that I decided to wake him up for group photos rather than keeping him in the sling!

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  13. Francesca

    What adorable photos! I’m all for baby wearing, but to be honest it didn’t really work for me, especially when I had my boys. I found it fiddly to use, difficult to manage by myself, uncomfortable when my baby boys got bigger and good only for doing not much more than just baby wearing. In the end, I did a lot of baby holding. However, my daughter was a preemie, and as a very small baby for so many months I got to use my sling and my carrier quite a bit in the early stages.

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  14. Alisa Bowman

    The second photo is too cute. I did some baby wearing, but I had a hard time getting used to the sling. Just never felt quite right. But I liked having her close and held her as much as I could.

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  15. Christine - Origami Mommy

    Thank you all for your responses to my post! I’ve enjoyed reading your thoughts so much.
    I just wanted to mention that there are a wide variety of carriers out there – I think there are thousands of brands, actually. An actual sling, going over one shoulder, doesn’t work as well for me as it did before, and I find myself using soft structured carriers (such as the Ergo or Beco) a lot more often now, especially when I am out. I also like using a mei tai. Mei tais and soft structured carriers are particularly helpful for carrying baby on the back. Most of those carriers have a waist belt to help distribute weight to the hips, too.

    Reply
  16. Jennifer W

    When I adopted my 2 children from S. Korea they were used to being carried in a Korean podaegis, so that’s what I used and I was very fond of it. Of course they are 8 and 9 now so I am lucky if they hold my hand when crossing the street. It helped our bonding time to be shortened in my opinion because they were near me all the time.

    Reply
  17. Heather@WoolandFlax

    Beautiful post. I love wearing Lily in my sling. I bought it from a WAHM, and it’s so well made and came with such wonderful instructions that I’ve always been very confident using it. She says that to be safe you should always be able to kiss the top of your baby’s head. Isn’t that sweet?
    I’ve just been looking at buying a soft carrier as well for when I’m carrying her on long walks…would you recommend the Beco over a traditional mei tai?

    Reply
  18. Sharon Waldrop

    I wore my youngest child when she was a baby. I don’t think that slings were even on the market here in the U.S. when my first three were born ( 15 – 23 years ago). I never used a stroller with baby #4 because by the time she was too big for the sling, she was big enough to walk on her own wherever we went. Sometimes (with a big emphasis on sometimes) I miss those days!

    Reply
  19. Fujimama

    Just found your blog and love it! (I work with your brother, who posted it on FB.)
    I also loved our sling–wore my first for 3 1/2 years (well, he was kind of small), until his brother was born. His brother was in it ALL DAY. He screamed whenever we put him down, so I just put him on in the morning, and took him out of the sling (but still slept with him) at night. Their little sister was in the sling for 3 years!
    They all had slings for their stuffed animals, and when my youngest was out of the sling, she carried the cat around in it. (The cat didn’t seem to mind.)
    I tried carrying my first in the carseat. ONCE. Why does anyone think that that is convenient??????

    Reply

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