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Babywearing

I've got something to say. Perhaps I shouldn't say it. Perhaps it'll enrage a few of my readers, or at least discourage them from coming back here. That isn't my goal, and if you want to have a discussion about it, please, I'm all ears.

But this is my opinion: Babywearing doesn't make you a better mother.

And it doesn't make for a happier baby, either.

I'm not saying this because I wasn't a babywearer. In fact, I was. When Chloë was a wee lass, I had her in the carrier all the time, except for when I slept, and even then when I was so completely exhausted I could overcome the discomfort (for me) of sleeping that way.

Was she a happy baby? Sure, for the most part. But I also had to wear her, to keep her upright, because she had severe reflux. If I needed a nap, or a shower, and couldn't wear her, she was in the swing or the bouncy seat, but then strapped right back in again when I was up. I wore her to cook, I wore her to clean, I wore her everywhere.

With Jack, I honestly don't remember. That first year, after the twins' birth and Robby's subsequent death, is largely missing from my memory. I can't remember a lot of things I should remember about parenting Jack as a baby. I hate it and it's sad, so let's move on.

I didn't wear Sophia. I barely had her in the carrier. Why? Because my back was all but destroyed in my surgical delivery of her. It still is, and gets worse as time goes on, so less and less is the time that I'm actually able to hold any one of my children, unless I'm sitting down.

That makes me sad, of course, but it doesn't make me feel guilty, because there is no rule that says you must wear your baby to be a decent mother, and there are no facts to back up any claims that constantly-slung children are happier children.

If I had to pick my happiest kid, in fact, it would be Sophia.

In fact, if I had to go out on a limb, and here's the part I probably shouldn't say, I would venture to guess that wearing your baby 100% of the time could actually be harmful. 

There. I said it.

Why? Because it certainly doesn't foster independence, and it certainly doesn't help with physical development. A worn baby isn't getting essential tummy time, to learn to roll over, sit up, crawl, and eventually walk. And I would further venture to say that losing out on that time affects verbal skills as well, as children learn to talk by identifiying the things they encounter, and what are they going to say about seeing Mom's neck 24 hours a day?

There came a point in Chloë's early life where I had to fight the urge to never put her down and actually let her lay on her belly, apart from me. She absolutely hated it at first, but then, after just a day or two of these attempts, something amazing happened: She started chattering away, for the first time! We got to hear what we called "her little piece of voice" which, until then, we'd only been witness to for a split second in the middle of a tiny sneeze! It was wonderful, and we loved it.

Maybe I'm grasping to say that constantly worn babies (and please, do notice my dichotomy here between babies worn ALL the time and babies worn SOME of the time, with which I have absolutely no issue) will be slower to develop physically and verbally, but I seriously don't think you can argue that it won't affect independence.

And I'm aware that I'm somewhat unusual among mothers, who tend to be less likely to foster independence in their children than are fathers. I've always been about that, though. I'm proud of it, too. My kids have a very healthy level of attachment (yes, I know all about those child development phrases, I took the courses in college, too) to both their daddy and me, and I'm not concerned in the least. We love them, and they know they are loved, without a doubt. They are comfortable, and they are learning to be individuals. They do not look to us every moment for approval. Yes, they come to us for comfort when they are injured, either physically or emotionally, and we absolutely give it to them.

But they are also encouraged to learn to deal with it - whatever "it" is - amongst themselves. To play by themselves. To come up with their own entertainment. To be apart. To be unique. To be individual. To grow up. At their own speed, on their own time, but to do it just the same.

Do I feel guilty that I don't wear my three-year-old preschooler? No, I don't. If you don't wear yours, neither should you. And if you do, well, bravo. But that doesn't make you better than me. And it doesn't make your kids healthier or happier.

I guess I've said a mouthful.

Fin.

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