It was exactly a week ago that we had The Malaysian Babywearers’ International Babywearing Week 2015 event in PJ which both Hosanna and I attended with our families.
The event has refueled my passion for babywearing and as a result, I have been watching tutorial videos on YouTube about babywearing once more and have plucked up the courage to try new feats with my existing gear.
So I figured it would be a good time as any for me to share a little about my babywearing journey so far.
What it’s about
Here’s a quick lowdown for the uninitiated. Babywearing refers to the act of carrying your baby through the aid of various gear such as slings, wraps and so forth. It’s viewed as one of the common practices of those who adopt attachment parenting.
It’s not really a new concept, especially here in Asia, but a certain set of standards and practices for babywearing have been developed and are currently used worldwide.
For example, baby carriers that are used for babywearing typically need to conform to guidelines such as being ergonomic in nature.
The proper practice of babywearing also requires a parent to adhere to specific criteria in order to ensure the safety of the child while being worn. A commonly used acronym, TICKS, helps to summarise the principles that babywearers are advised to keep in mind.
How I got into the scene
To be honest, I never really intended to make a hobby/interest out of babywearing.
I just thought it would be a nifty thing to have the option of carrying my baby in some kind of gear that would allow me to jaga the wellbeing of my back and arms a little more (I have a medical history of a slipped disc and Carpal Tunnel Syndrome in my left hand).
So, not long after Jamie and I were discharged from the hospital following his delivery, Deric and I found ourselves in a shop in TTDI called Fabulous Mom one day mulling over a suitable baby carrier for Jamie.
At that time, I already had my heart set on owning a stretchy wrap such as the Moby Wrap or Boba Wrap because I had tried one out at a baby expo while I was still pregnant with Jamie and thought that it looked like a feasible option.
But unfortunately for me (or fortunately, depending on how you look at it) the salesgirl at Fabulous Mom decided to ask me how I had delivered Jamie. When I told her it was by an emergency C section, she advised me not to take a stretchy wrap because it would need to be tied around my waist and might get in the way of my wound site and cause discomfort.
It was disheartening for me to hear this as this was the baby carrier I had wanted to own all along. However, I was still very much in pain from the after effects of surgery so I decided to go along with her advice.
As an alternative, she suggested that I consider either a baby pouch or a ring sling. I chose to go for a ring sling.
I figured that since it only cost RM100+, if I later on discovered that using it just wasn’t the thing for me, I would not feel so bad as not that much money had been forked out for it as compared to if I had bought a soft structured carrier (SSC) up front which would require us to spend several hundreds at one go.
So that is how it all started out for me.
How I fared
Initially, I was really discouraged because I found it so hard to get Jamie to be comfortable in the ring sling. Getting him into it would often involve him struggling, fussing or crying. I also faced challenges in grasping the concept of how to securely put him in it without having to worry about him falling out.
Well, I eventually overcame these initial issues and in the process, discovered that there were so many other baby carrier options out there. I felt keen on trying them out, so gradually I bought other items to add to my stash.
Here’s a picture of my current collection:
It isn’t much and it isn’t too fancy compared to what other avid babywearers out there own, I’m sure. But I love each of these carriers and see a different value and purpose for each of them.
For example, my Sukkiri ring sling is made out of mesh material, and works well for Jamie at home where we hardly switch on the air cond. He sweats a lot in our tropical Malaysian weather, so it’s great to be able to keep that to a minimum with ring slings like the Sukkiri.
Meanwhile, the Klik-A-Gift ring sling that I have is made of cotton material with padded shoulder as well as edges to make it comfy for both the adult wearer and the baby. It’s hot for Jamie to use at home, but works well for use indoors in buildings that are air conditioned such as malls.
So both ring slings serve a purpose, depending on where I am and what my needs are.
In the meantime, a lady from my church passed me a hand sewn cloth as a gift which she said would be useful for me to carry Jamie around at home. I think not all babywearing advocates would agree to the method of carrying she taught me for use with this cloth, but nevertheless I do still use it with Jamie to help take the weight of my arms when doing short carries around the home with him.
As for my venture into the world of SSCs, it came about because by Jamie’s third month, he transformed into this really active tot who would lean in all sorts of directions while being adjusted into the ring sling, making it really hard for me to wear him in it. He also developed this habit of biting the rings.
I took these problems I faced in babywearing Jamie to a local Facebook babywearing group that I was a member of and part of the advice I got in response was to consider an SSC that was made out of fabric that is cooling for Jamie.
Hence, I did another round of research and was really drawn to the Lennylamb range of carriers. I was a bit hesitant to purchase their SSCs as I wanted to try them before doing so but their products were hard to find in physical stores.
I was blessed, however, through the discovery of a weekend bazaar showcasing baby products that was about to take place. I attended that event with Hosanna and it was there that I first laid eyes on a Lennylamb Paradiso baby carrier, which was a wrap conversion SSC (WCSSC) with a cotton-bamboo blend.
It was so soft in its texture that I fell in love with it almost right away and before leaving the bazaar, had already purchased the WCSSC.
Last but not least, I really wanted to go the wrapping route, since that had been my intention from the very early days of my interest in babywearing.
As I did more online research on it, I realised that it would be better to get a woven wrap than a stretchy wrap as the former could be used up till Jamie’s toddler days and beyond. In contrast, the stretchy wrap had a more limited time frame for use due to its weight supporting capacity.
Woven wraps, I found out, are really expensive, despite being just a long piece of cloth. While I was preparing to buy a second hand one via Facebook, I stumbled upon a local brand that sells woven wraps which was known as Daeisu.
I ended up going with purchasing a wrap from this Malaysian setup, since I like supporting local brands, and I am in favour of the fact that Daeisu kept their products within a really affordable range for Malaysians unlike other similar manufacturers that are based here.
More tales to come
Since the time I first started out in babywearing up until now, I’ve learned lots about this wonderful parenting lifestyle. It’s really too much to elaborate on in just one post alone, so in the future, I will work on writing separate posts to share what I know about each type of baby carrier that I’ve tried in the hopes that it will help some of you readers out there.
Meantime, if babywearing has sparked your interest, check out the links below.
Well, I hope you find babywearing as fun as I have. I look forward to telling you more about my babywearing journey in future posts. But meanwhile, please feel free to share your own experiences in the comments section.
Babywearing International: Has an extensive glossary of babywearing terms for you to read and get acquainted with. Also contains tips on how to choose a baby carrier and resources that explain how to use each one.
Malaysian Babywearers (Facebook group): Go here to meet other passionate Malaysian babywearers. You can also troubleshoot your babywearing woes by posting photos to the group and seeking advice. Admins will typically respond, if not anyone else.
It was just a dream, but I remember it vividly… it was set in the sleep-deprived newborn days of my fictional second child, a ruddy infant with a thick crop of dark hair. She was so tiny she barely fit in one arm.
The time came to change her diaper, and I proceeded to the changing table but was so distracted by its messiness that I totally forgot about the baby. By the time I turned back to the table, she was gone! I rummaged in the rubbish bag, thinking I had thrown her out with the trash.
Following the direction of the screams, I saw she had rolled out of the house into a drain. I saw her tiny skull smash the gutter and her body plop into the murky water. “Mom is coming!” I dashed towards the baby….
Yup, my dreams are a tad dramatic, but it’s not just my subconscious mind that plays up the worst fears. Ever since becoming a parent, I’ve found myself more inclined to be paranoid in some ways. Here are some things that I was worried about:
The time RJ was having a cold and we were worried she was not responding to sound. (Googled: How to know if baby is deaf…)
The day I was driving with her alone in the back seat and I had a sudden worry that I would forget to bring her out when I reached my destination. (Read an article about parents accidentally leaving their child in the car seat and they died 😦
The time we found five red dots on her skin and we were worried it was chicken pox. (To be fair, she had just met her cousins that week and they had recently recovered from it.)
The time we freaked out over the bleeding from her umbilical cord stump. (Turns out, someone at home accidentally poured “yu yi” oil on the belly button.)
In her first month she jerked a lot and I almost worried that she was having fits or restless leg syndrome. (It was just normal developmental stages + an active baby.)
During the first checkup I asked the paediatrician whether she had nystagmus because her eye seemed to jump when she looked to the side. (Infants’ pupils take time to fix into position.)
Does access to more information make parents overly worried?
Thanks to Dr. Google, every symptom seems to have a diagnosis with a fancy medical name and a long list of scary details. Those facebook links and whatsapp articles also contribute to this culture of assuming the worst.
It’s easy to scare ourselves even if we’re not a hypochondriac. Especially first time parents whose lack of experience keeps us vigilant and often drives us to imagine the worst.
These days, I’m learning to let go of my fears (which are intangible, and have no factual basis) and focus on what is happening at the moment ( Take a deep breath and ask yourself questions to determine the facts. What do we know so far? Why are we worried?) This is definitely a more productive and helpful approach that keeps the fears at bay.
Focusing on the facts is kind of like holding on to the “totem” in the movie Inception, where you rely on something to ground yourself and separate fantasy from reality. If I had applied this approach to all the situations above, I would have found that I was making a fear-driven assumption based on an incomplete set of facts.
Five tips for letting go of your fears
So, Mummy, whether you’re worried about baby’s development, weight, or habits, remember:
Trust your instincts, but also make allowances for misses. Sure, there is a remote possibility that it IS something to be worried about, but don’t overdo the guessing game and googling. To borrow a saying from Grey’s Anatomy, “if you hear hoofbeats, think horses, not zebras”.
Clear the air. Sometimes, just by saying the fears aloud will make us realise how ridiculous and off the mark we are. It usually sounds less scary when you say it, than when it’s in your head…
Consult & Confide. Talking to someone with more experience helps put things into perspective and allays your fears. Like when I told a friend about the “suspected chicken pox” and she told me it was just mosquito bites. She was right.
Give it time. There’s no need to rush to the emergency ward before giving yourself enough time to observe and figure out what’s happening. Without adequate information, your paediatrician would not be able to give an accurate diagnosis either. Of course, use common sense when applying this maxim.
Above all else, be guided by baby‘s behavior. Trust baby that he will express himself or show signs of being unwell if it was really something to be anxious about. If he’s playing and eating like normal, just continue monitoring and wait til it passes. It’s probably something that will correct itself.
I told myself, the next time a scary thought passes through my head, I should not hold on to it. I want to spend my precious time enjoying the moments with my family and child, not obsession and worrying over every small thing. The easiest way to kill one’s joy is to be immersed in anxiety.
Let’s not live in our fears. Our children are only young once, it should be a time of joy and discovery for both parent and child.
If you’ve ever huffed and puffed while pushing a heavy laden stroller in bumpy terrain, you may have wished that you could skateboard while pushing your offspring.
Well, now you can! This nifty invention (left) by stroller company Quinny is called the Long board Stroller. While I’ve yet to seen one yet, and have my doubts about how easy it is to manouvre, it sure is a a swag way to ride for both parent and tot.
Here’s some link love to kick start November:
Micro-advice to the TLDR generation takes its best form in this six word parenting advice experiment. Spoiler: “You’re gonna need a bigger wipe.”
When does one learn to be a father? According to this article, the best time to do so is when he’s a boy. Because that tricky work-life-balance thing really boils down to habits we form early on.
Does it matter which parent reads the bedtime story? Surprise, surprise. New research suggests that children develop better language skills when dad does it.
A boy tells Jimmy Kimmel that women can’t become President because “they’re too girly”. Hilary Clinton shows up to try and change his mind. Watch to see what he says after meeting her.
Could “redshirting” (the practice of deferring kindergarten by a year for children born in the later months) help your child gain an advantage? Some experts think it’s possible, but others disagree.
Step 1, 8pm – Wake up from the nap that I had after dinner. Recall how much I enjoyed the sweet potato sticks that my delusional parents tried letting me chew swallow according to the “baby led weaning” method. Miss said sweet potato food. Cry.
Step 2, 9pm – Parents try to comfort me, mother by offering the breast and father by playing a silly game with me. They have picked me up from my bed and put me on their nice warm bed with the expensive memory foam topper. Good. Be happy and laugh. Roll around said expensive bed so that parents do not have room to be comfortable, despite its King size.
Step 3, 10pm – Enough of the boob juice and games. Mother is nodding off while feeding me, and father has retreated to the shining bright square block he calls “phone”. I’m bored. Cry. Feed. Laugh. Accidentally doze off zzzzzzzz
Step 4, 11pm – Sweet dreams are made of this….
Step 5, 12am – Indigestion? Thirst? Turn over, open eyes and yelp a little. Fade back into slumber.
Step 6, 1am – Pee in diaper. Wait a minute, why does my tummy feel weird? Constipation? Does this have something to do with the vaccination I had this morning? Where’s my sweet potato sticks? Indigestion. Thirst.
Step 7, 2am – Shriek. Yell. Vociferate. I want something in my mouth NOW! Or maybe I don’t. Decide that since I got some boob juice, I’ll sleep for awhile. Then wake up in half an hour. Repeat process to make sure that Mother is woken up in the middle of her REM-dream-cycle and will be super groggy. (They are more pliant when you wear them down, you see.)
Step 8, 3am – Father wakes up and moves across the bed to see what’s happening. Mother asks him for water to give me, he hands her the Ikea sippy cup with the leaky spout. Mother attempts to use cup to feed me water. I move. Water spills. Cry. But drink the water anyway.
They are now disagreeing about whether or not to change my onesie because apparently, not changing it will make me catch a chill, but changing it will render me wide awake and unable to go back to sleep.
Step 9, 4am – I’m still not asleep. Mother tries to let me sleep over her shoulder. I don’t feel like being in this position now. Make a dry cough just to confuse them.
They are now running through the list of things that could be wrong.
They think I might have a piece of food stuck in my esophagus from dinner.
Or I’m having constipation and straining to poo.
Or I’m cold.
Or I’m having fever.
(Parents fumble with thermometer, take multiple readings and google “is 35 degrees considered fever for a baby?”)
Mother asks for water in a bottle that doesn’t spill. Father goes to the kitchen and warms up a bottle of milk instead. They now quarrel discuss about whether I need to be fed water or milk.
Step 10, 5am – Yowl, as if in pain, but not so convincingly so that they are confused whether I’m just tired. They finally figure out that I soiled myself. Father changes my diaper, poo a toothpaste tube big amount again while he is doing the deed. Cry because this is a new sensation and I’m upset that my poop is different after having solid foods. Alternate between playing and crying again after the diaper change. Repeat the poo performance.
They now have a bottle of milk AND a bottle of water for me. I’m sleeping on their bed. More incoherent discussions.
“It’s the BLW, she took too much sweet potato and she can’t digest it. (Parent googles “what to do if baby swallows a big chunk of food” and spends half an hour reading forums, academic papers, and parenting websites.)
“PLEASE sleep, baby. I’ll feed you puree and water until you’re four. I’ll give you a thermal blanket. I’ll hug you forever.”
“What’s wrong with my baby? I need answers. We’re going to the doctor after this, we’ll be first in line.”
Step 11, 6am – zzzzzzzzz
Mother swears to never feed me sweet potato again, collapses to sleep. Father scrolls google endlessly.
Step 12, 7am – Wake up. Smile and laugh happily. Mother mutters something about going to get up to get ready for work, but she’s too tired to move her body. Smile some more and touch her face. Where is my sweet potato?