30 July 2018

"Babywearing" explained

When Maura Caldwell was nine months pregnant and working out at her Minneapolis gym, people would often ask to take her photo. Not because she was deadlifting 135 pounds, but because she was doing it with her toddler strapped to her back.

“I love working out and when Grandma wasn’t able to come watch my son, I’d just wear him at the gym and add a little extra weight to my workouts,” Caldwell said. “Now, having had a second baby, I find babywearing even more valuable and essential.”

“Babywearing” is a growing practice among a new generation of parents who are ditching the stroller in favor of strapping their babies — and sometimes even toddlers — into carriers to tote around on their backs, chests or hips. Unlike baby backpacks once used for toting infants to and from home, parents now rely on slings and soft carriers to bring their children with them wherever they go: to the gym, grocery store, concerts, even work.

Though babywearing has been met with safety warnings from the medical field, proponents say it helps infants thrive physically, socially and emotionally.
More information at the StarTribune (whence the photo, cropped for emphasis, credit Richard Tsong-Taatarii), and at Wikipedia, where there is a reminder that this is an ancient and worldwide practice.


  1. I "wore" my daughter until she was over 3 and got too heavy, and it was wonderful for keeping her calm, having my hands free, and not being limited where we could go in the way one is with a buggy. But the photo shows a very bad example of babywearing; the child appears to be positioned too low on the mother's torso, and as for the way his head is being allowed to hang down ...!

  2. i agree so much with rosie's comment above, and would add a safety caveat as well...
    first, though, let me say how much i advocate baby wearing. it is wildly more convenient than constantly taking a baby/child in and out of car-seat carriers, strollers, activity centres, etc. it is also much, much better for the baby's security and development in every way. i only ever recommend strollers and other baby-holding devices to parents with physical disabilities that make it painful or impossible for them to wear a baby.
    there are, however, important things to know about how to wear a child at various ages/developmental stages for the child's well-being and for the sake of the parent's back health. online baby carrier sellers can provide this guidance, as can La Leche League or Attachment Parenting support groups. once you know HOW to wear the baby, the next thing is to decide WHEN to wear the baby, or in the case above, when NOT to do. there are all kinds of safety issues in a gym full of metal equipment with moving parts and heavy things, not to mention the bright light and loud music and ambient noise... i'm sure the mother above was very careful, overall; but that type of carrier is less than ideal for that activity, the baby's head is rather badly unsupported (although this baby is not a newborn, and can hold up his/her head, some support is still desirable, especially with a backward flexion like that!), baby should be a bit higher on mum's torso, and i'd worry about tiredness and workout-induced glucose drops affecting her or other people's judgement about their movements. i often saw weights and adjustable machine parts fall due to careless or overtired replacement by people who'd been working out in gyms, occasionally causing minor injuries to others. minor to an adult could be much worse for an infant, though.
    i'd suggest that workouts, especially in gyms, could wait until baby is older. if one can't wait, it's probably better to do short workouts while someone close to mum and baby holds the tot, and skip the workout completely if that person is unavailable. if she's insistent upon wearing a baby to the gym, a wrap-and-tie carrier would be a better bet.

  3. I imagine that baby's head is getting flopped around, experiencing concussions with every movement of the carrier.

  4. My babies were born in the mid-late 80s and I wore them everywhere.... but it never looked like this!


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