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Babywearing through the eyes of your child

Updated: Apr 7


a group of African women wearing colourful clothing whilst babywearing

This article was first published in the Natural Parent Magazine, Issue 46, Autumn 2022. This beautiful artwork is called "A sweet time together" by Evelyn Babirye and here with permission.


Each edition of The Natural Parent magazine sees me fumbling with interesting ideas and perspectives on babywearing. This edition was no different. And as I sat there muddling, I asked my four-year-old son what he thought was great about babywearing and what he thought adults would like to know about. I then asked my colleague’s 10-year-old daughter Emma for her perspectives. After some delightful and surprising conversations rich with heart-warming anecdotes, this sample size of two somehow provided me with the same insightful reasons as to why our children love to be carried.


Morrison was carried daily when he was a baby and toddler, our ring sling constantly with us for even the shortest outing. He was last up in the carrier at three months ago, in a big crowd in the big smoke, and it was a relief to us both having him tucked up on my back. While he otherwise doesn’t often go up, he knows where his carrier is and when he’d like to use it.


Emma was also carried daily as a baby and a child, with her last time in a carrier some six years ago when she was four years old. Her family’s favourite carrier was also a ring sling. Emma still missed being carried, being walked around on someone’s back.


Both Emma and Morrison told us that it is very helpful for families to have a carrier for their children, for when they are babies and bigger kids too. They also told us that if they were parents, it would be very important to use a carrier with their own babies. These are their top five reasons why they think babywearing is good and why kids love being in a carrier.


1. It feels safe in there


Emma and Morrison agreed that a feeling of safety was one of the top reasons that children like to be carried. To be close to someone they know; who cares for them; and who is right there, feels safe. Because the special adult is right there, the child won’t be scared, and they can relax.


And because the adult is right there, the child can tell them if they need something, and the carer can get it for them. Morrison reckons that is really good!


2. You can go anywhere and do anything


Our children said that you can do anything when in a carrier. They looked forward to being in the carrier, it was fun - going for a walk, a hike, Kangatraining. The fact that the child didn’t miss out on doing things or being apart from the adult seemed to be very important to both Emma and Morrison. Morrison especially described times when he was feeling unwell, the carrier meant he could still go for family walks to the bush and the creek with our dog.


When in the carrier our children loved that they could see everything and talk to their special adult about what was going on around them. The carrier was also helpful for indoor jobs like cooking and cleaning, not just outdoors adventures.


3. It is easy to go to sleep there in the carrier


It is nice and warm and comfortable in the carrier. And it is also very easy to take a nap whenever the child is tired. The child can rest their head against their special adult, hear their breathing and their voice and the movement of the adult’s body can help rock the child to sleep. Even if there is loud music or noise, being in the carrier helps kids to go to sleep. Morrison recounted one of his friends, who would bring his mum their carrier to indicate he was ready to have a snooze.


4. It helps when you have sore legs


The carrier was very important for when our children’s legs got tired, and they didn’t want to walk anymore. Morrison remembered the carrier helping him feel better when he hurt his foot and couldn’t walk far. It meant he could still get out and about. I especially love Emma’s sentiment here – “Now I am bigger I could carry my mum around when her legs get tired!”.


5. You can have big cuddles


It didn’t seem to matter which carrier was used, being carried in a well-fitted carrier was comfy and meant time with a loved one. Being in the carrier makes the child and the special adult more connected and signified time together.


Our children identified that there was a difference between cuddles-in-arms and cuddles-in-carriers. Emma described cuddles-in-arms as more grippy and didn’t last as long, while cuddles-in-carriers were more soft, comfortable, and lasted longer.


Emma said that she would still be open to use a carrier now as a ten-year-old, when she was tired and needed a cuddle, and if her mum was busy, they could do both cuddling and work at the same time!


Summary


From the mouths of babes, we can learn great things. I hope I have done our gorgeous kids proud and captured their sentiments without too much adult-splaining. My favourite learning is that throughout childhood, a carrier signifies time together with a special adult.


We are often provided with a parent-centric view of caring for our children and the reasons why we should love the latest gadget or craze. I loved listening to our children’s perspective on a parenting tool that helped our families to navigate the early years together. It delights my heart to think that something we found so valuable has made such a profound impact on our children and their vision of caring for children in the future.


References

Perspectives of babywearing through the eyes of our precious children. Biggest thanks to Emma and Morrison, interviews held March 2022


Kato x

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