Babywearing: My journey

Babywearing has been such a significant part of my foray into motherhood.
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:

IMG_5829
Clockwise from left: Klik-A-Gift ring sling, Lennylamb Paradiso baby size soft structured carrier (SSC), chequered home sewn cloth given to me by church member, Sukkiri ring sling and Daeisu Bougainvillea woven wrap size 5.
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.

School of Babywearing: Has a downloadable babywearing guide PDF file that you can refer to.

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.

Malaysian Babywearers DIY Advice and Support (Facebook group): The group to be in if you want to learn how to make your own baby carriers. I have yet to try this, but remain interested in doing so at some point in the future, if time and resources permit.

Malaysian Babywearers FSOT and Rental (Facebook group): You can learn a lot about the various brands of baby carriers out there by joining this group. And you can, of course, rent or purchase second hand any carriers that interest you.

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