I parent by nature

“Baby wearing? Umm….Can you repeat the question?”

This stuttering response was the sum-total of my knowledge surrounding baby wearing. Expecting our first child, my husband Jeremy and I thought we had covered everything: A plush stash of cloth diapers, classes on labour and breastfeeding, a safe and toxin-free nursery, and the loopy naive grins of a couple who had yet to hit the delivery room. Given that we had a fresh-out-of-the-box stroller and able arms, we were assured that transporting our baby would be both simple and efficient (as parenting is supposed to be…right?).

Now, eighteen months later, I am on my way to living as an accomplished baby wearer.

What stimulated this unexpected choice? Perhaps it was the deep and lasting life-shift we experienced soon after Jeremiah was born; conversations, choices, and events leading us into a new journey and life-style which shaped our family into something much more fluid and organic than we had ever expected. Changes from synthetic products to natural, consumer roles to producer, urban living to mountain ranch, and employed to…not, may have played a role in nudging us towards adopting baby-wearing so enthusiastically. Or perhaps it was simply embracing the fact that when you’re a parent on the move your babe needs to move with you. While I remain unsure as to the specific event or reason motivating us to step into this incredible mode of interaction, I am confident that it will remain within our family as long as there are babies to wear.

Throughout the past several months, the following notes have been left scribbled for my husband Jeremy.

“Down at the lake, 5:00am, baby with me…”                     
“Took Jeremiah for a hike, back for breakfast…”
“Checking fences, 6:30am”
“Trail ride. Jeremiah’s with me.”

Through forests and across lakes, on horseback and at the kitchen sink, while nursing, cleaning, and conversing, in the company of mop, dog, or guest, my baby boy has been tucked in closely with those who love him. Beginning with a beautiful sling (presented as a gift from Jeremy after delivery), and currently with the oh-so-hardy Ergo, Jeremiah has been bundled, strapped, snuggled, and packed. On my back or his Papa’s, he knows he is safely stowed. Sleeping, observing, feeding, or simply soaking up whatever activity at hand, he is able to participate within the community of his family and with his world first-hand.

For many families, baby-wearing may be a pre-birth decision or a personal preference. For us, it has become a beautiful constant within our way of life. As a woman, and as a mama desiring to pursue natural parenting, I know this: Wearing my baby has introduced a freedom, strength, and unity to my life and family that was entirely unexpected and completely unplanned. There is a beautiful centeredness in the snuffling snore of my son dozing against my chest as I wander down our lane. There is a gentle respect and partnership as his Papa shares in carrying him through our journeys. There is secret warmth in the knowledge of Jeremiah nursing on the move; hidden and tucked away. There is an exhilarating strength in carrying my son’s growing frame upon my own; aware that my body continues to contribute to his.

“Baby wearing? Yes!”

As we journey onward, as our families grow and change, we will carry our babies close. As they outgrow their slings and wraps and carriers, we will continue to hold them; wrapping their dreams and cries and steps next to our own, wearing their lives next to our hearts. 

Why did/didn’t you choose to adopt baby-wearing in your own family? What is the greatest benefit that you have experienced? What has been the most significant challenge? I’d love to hear your experiences surrounding this topic, as well as other areas surrounding natural parenting and our shared life!
(This post is presented as my entry to Parenting By Nature’s ‘Blog to Inspire’ contest! I’m so excited to be a part of this unique contest and look forward to interacting with more like-minded readers as we share our experiences. If this is inspiring to you, please pass this post along to your friends and help me share my entry and story!)

Inspire Natural Parenting Contest

22 Responses to “I parent by nature”
  1. mama says:

    beautiful Dee! I discovered babywearing a few months after Levi was born, and dove into it because I liked the idea of attachment parenting so much. I loved wearing him, and he loved the ride. Now, I don't know what I'd do without my carriers. I would go crazy, it has become a necessity with two kids, one of which wants to be on me all.the.time. And I wouldn't have it any other way.

  2. The Accidental Pharmacist says:

    We are huge fans of babywearing. We stumbled on the idea when reading a blog early in my pregnancy and it was a perfect fit. Unfortunately, we got a lot of push back from friends and family that thought it was a silly idea. However, 7wks in we've done nothing but wear our daughter (all day long) and now have friends asking about whether they should try it out. Loved your post your new rural lifestyle sounds fab.

  3. Melanie says:

    Dee,I love this new blog site of yours, and I love the idea of holding your child close to your heart–beautifully written! I just love how you are walking this path…amazing.So proud of you…Melanie

  4. Shelbi Piche (Mother of Twins) says:

    Dee, great to see you writing again. I like the term baby wearing…hehe. It is such a gift to be able to carry your child so close to you at all times. For me, it was rather difficult to do so, being a mom of twins. It's something that I wanted to partake in, and while I do it with both of them…it was my choice to not do it constantly to ensure that they could learn to interact on their own and learn to socialize without be beside them every moment of every day. I know that they are confident that I love them and they know I'm there for them when they need me. Additionally, I know they feel safe venturing on their own around the house with their friends and on their own. Again, great work!

  5. Dea' says:

    Wow friends, thanks so much for the feedback and interaction! It's so exciting and affirming to hear your unique experiences with your babies and the hcoice of baby-wearing. Accidental Pharmacist, thanks for sharing about the 'push back'. I've heard that from many mamas and have even experienced bits of it myself. Our role as parents presents us with many opportunities for responsible choices and looking out for the best of our babies. Good work on chosing what you believed was best for yours :)To all of you, thanks again. Please feel free to continue interacting as the conversation grows, and as the blog continues.

  6. Dana says:

    I only started baby wearing with Chip, I WISH I had discovered this most amazing thing with the older boys as well. My life has been enriched since finding this seriously awesome way of interacting with my baby.

  7. Missy says:

    I have loved babywearing with Aneliese and I can't begin to express how much I have loved watching her grow from being snuggled in the Ergo on her daddy's chest as a tiny one (even in church) to riding on his back as a toddler.I love having her close to me as I go about the things I need to do, it was a sad thing that later in my pregnancy, I needed to stop wearing her.

  8. Anonymous says:

    Miranda said…Awesome awesome. How very cool and perfect. Like things were meant to be.Dee, I'm so glad you share your life with us. I miss you tons and it's nice to hear all the lessons you learn -thank you for the opportunity to learn along side you. I wish that we could actually learn together, shoulder to shoulder, but the "cup half full" would offer that blogging gives us all the chance to deeper ingrain the lessons learned. By rising to the challenge of articulating yourself (as you do so well), your words and wisdom take deep root in your mind as well as ours. You invite us to engage with your questions and the result is a richer life for both reader and writer roles. Thank you.

  9. sadie says:

    I'm really fascinated by cultural babywearing traditions. My favorite carrier has been my Mei tai, which is a traditional chinese carrier. But as it gains popularity in N.America, in China, really only the poor women wear their babies, as strollers are the "in" thing now. I'm excited that the mainstream stores are now offering a wide selection of alternative carriers, as in years past you really only saw the bjorns (which is notorious for breaking backs) I hope this spurs more women on to babywearing.

  10. Keith and Jamie says:

    Great blog!I anticipated doing lots of babywearing with Rilla. After giving birth to The World's Lightest Sleeper, though, my ambitions were forced to shift somewhat. Sleeping and nursing in the sling or carrier just hasn't worked for her. I wore her for about half of her waking hours until she hit the crawling stage, though. I haven't been able to carry her in our frontpack for the last few months, and I really miss it! Thanks for the reminder – maybe I will try again to master the mei tai today so that I can carry her despite this pregnant belly.

  11. sadie says:

    Jamie, there is a learning curve for the Mei tai, but there are a ton of helpful "how to" videos on youtube.

  12. Dea' says:

    I'm hearing more and more about the Mei tai and think I'm going to have to pick one about before long. They seem a little intimidating, but from what I hear it's worth it. And Sadie, you were able to wear yours while pregnant right? That's a great feature!I too am fascinated with the action of baby-wearing across cultures and how wealth and 'development' seems to move mothers away from it, for a time. Isn't that how so many things seem to go though in areas of child care, body care, and general family/home/house interaction? Breastfeeding, synthetic chemicals and detergents, whole foods, and other things that only a decade ago were "old fashioned" have now returned as the wiser and more-informed choice. I'm all for looking back to gain wisdom for moving forward! Wise mamas my friends! :)(thanks for the interaction and comments– how fun!)

  13. Kmarie says:

    Beautiful post Dee!It is great that circumstances allow you to "wear" your baby. I was almost jealous ( In avery calm way:)… With our first we did "wear" her for quite awhile but then I got pregnant right at 9 months and with complications I just couldn't. Then when our second came… I almost felt like the mother of twins in the previous post. ( Although I realize twins is much busier then 18 months apart!) When my first was your child's age we had another waiting to go … but you understand that the first was still a baby too. (as you probably still feel about Jem)Giving them both equal time and independence just did not work with me carrying only one of them every day. Different strokes for different folks:) I am glad it is working for you- it looks so cozy. Man! We miss you guys!

  14. Jeremiah says:

    I think I am the first male to post on the blog about "Baby Wearing." In all honesty, my experience I never even thought about the fact that I was baby wearing. For me, it was merely an act of practicality. The weight of the baby is much easier to bear for a long period with the proper harness. I didn't feel any closer holding him to me: Is that because of my makeup as a male? Why is it that mostly woman (seemingly) find a special bond doing this?

  15. Dea' says:

    Ha! Oh honey… 😉 While you may not have been aware of a 'special bond' while wearing Jem, it's evident in your interaction with him and his love of being near you and within your arms and on your back that it has being a positive connection for you both 🙂 I have LOVED watching you wear our baby boy; both pracitically and as a woman. There's something deep and unique about me as his mom passing him to you to wear. I wore him for 9 months before you met, and watching him doze against your chest or laugh on your back is extra special as I feel it gives you an added taste of carrying his body on your own. Thanks for being man enough to wear our baby out and about. From the curious stares and comments to the laughter, it's been fantastic!

  16. Bloggy Mama says:

    Hi! I googled the contest and found your blog. I was scoping out my competition 😉 Great post. Babywearing ROCKS!!

  17. farmama says:

    Hi!Great post on baby wearing Dea! I love the many photos of you wearing your baby that are to be found here at your blog! And your babe is big, but you still carry him about! I love it! I have an ergo carrier too….I like it best for bigger babies/toddlers! I had a moby wrap for when my babes were fresh and new.Take care!sara

  18. Jon bro says:

    Hmm, baby wearing?.. just sounds wierd. I've got three little ladies, and I definitley did not wear them. They are confident,joyful, happy, and most of all, know they are loved.Can it be good to "wear" them? Sure, if it works for you and your lifestsyle, go for it.. but people should not be felt that it is the thing you need to do.. just an opinion from a man, with 3 great kids!!.. oh ya, this is not 'push back', just reality. ;)(Jer, u and I da men!!)

  19. Anonymous says:

    Carissa said……….That's interesting!! I am a mother of 3 and never heard about this culture of baby wearing until now. For me it gives me great joy and satisfaction seeing my children learn their independence and gain confidence in their surroundings without me wearing them and all the while know that they know that I'm there for them and they safe within my reach;). It's just a personal preference, but I commend you for taking on what you believe in:). Keep it up!!!

  20. Dea' says:

    I really appreciate the honest and varied interaction. Thanks friends! This is so great and I really welcome the critiques and questions. More! How fun :)From what I read and see, it seems that there are many expressions and extensions of baby-wearing. I know that many parents adopt it deeply and thoroughly as a form of attachment parenting, while others swing entirely opposite, believing that independence and development are better learned outside of a sling or carrier. The beautiful thing abot parenting is that as we selflessly raise our children we will seek what is best for them as individuals and for us as a whole family. I've met many of the children connected to these comments and they are each beautiful, balanced, and healthy. The evidence of love and care within their upbringing is obvious. It seems our family is right smack in the middle when it comes to baby-wearing views. We desire our children to develop as balanced and independent individuals who are confident and strong on their own, but we have LOVED the unexpected connection and interaction that wearing has offered. And, truth be told, in our current lifestyle we have simply had to adopt this practice. We don't have sitters available and our grounds can be dangerous for a baby/toddler. When J's at work and I have chores, Jem is simply safer on my back then under the horses feet, climbing a scaffold, or jumping off a dock. (though he has had his share of crawling through puddles and uprooting the garden and tackling the dogs and….)Jem has hit the 30 pound mark now and, while I relish the fitness of my upper body, my 5'2" frame is nearing its limit ;)Again, thanks for the interaction.

  21. Dionna says:

    What a great testament to the wonders of babywearing 🙂 We have worn our son since he was just a tiny thing, and I don't foresee stopping anytime soon. Our carrier of choice for the first 3 or 4 months was a Moby – what an excellent way to keep baby warm, snug, and secure against you in the cold winter months! He was always with us, and we learned how to quickly discover his needs and tend to them.Now that he can walk, our Ergo and our Action Baby Carrier are still within arm's reach at all times. He still loves to be worn, both for closeness and cuddles and for those times he gets too worn out to walk.

  22. Anonymous says:

    I agree further with Jon bro as well as Carissa. I have worn our children around, trust me. When it's the only thing that stops them from crying, of course I'm going to do it. But I don't feel the need to carry them everywhere we go and every moment possible. I know that I can hold them in my arms when they need me, carry them over obsticles and share time with them at any moment. For me, when I view a child who has been carried or over stimulated by the parent, I notice a difference from those who were partially carried around and given independence. I've noted several times, both with family and friends, when children are carried around they are reluctant to venture on their own very far. Additionally, when they become frightened they become violent to the parent or another child. Nonetheless, the parent themselves has a way of dealing with these situations and it's usually in a great manner. For me, it was about building a comfortable parent/child relationship while allowing them to grow on their own and gain their own personality, independance, self soothing abilities and comfortability. It's great to see your children venture out into the world and have a sense of security knowing that you'll be there to catch them when they fall rather than keeping them from doing the falling.

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