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Babywearing in the West… Normal or Weird?

October 17, 2016

babywearing western world australia normalise

I’m on a bit of a mission. I want to see babywearing become more “normal” here in Australia and the rest of the western world. Not because I’m sick of the stares or because I don’t like being different. Because I don’t think any baby or caregiver should miss out on this amazing tool.

It seems like most people think that babywearing is a new trend, an alternative parenting method, just another baby product, and a little bit of an odd thing to do. In actual fact, babywearing is none of these things.

Babywearing is a tool that has existed in many parts of the world for centuries, not a new thing or a trend. It’s not just an alternative product to a pram, but something that helps to fulfil your baby’s need for closeness, comfort, warmth, and nurturing. It can help caregivers get on with life and attend to their own needs at the same time, transitioning more smoothly to life with a little one.

But… despite all of these amazing benefits, babywearing still isn’t “normal” to most people. If anything, it is more of an afterthought for most parents here in Australia.

The Problem with the West

Western Society has a bit of a funny attitude to babies, in my experience. From the moment babies are born, there’s this culture of separation from the mother, and an obsession with putting them in things. Not sure what I mean? Let’s explore further…

Out pops baby – stick it in the hospital bassinet. Put it in the capsule and clip it on the pram. Unclip the capsule from the car to bring baby inside and let it stay there until it wakes up. You could practically move your baby from hospital to home without touching it the whole time.

If baby wakes up when you get home though, don’t worry, there’s a rocker you can put it in. Or put it in the baby bath for a clean. Then the big one – when your baby is ready for a sleep, leave it in the cot or bassinet… maybe in your room, or maybe in a room by itself.

Baby in pram, capsule, and rocker

The saddest part? All of this is really, really normal to most Australian mums. This is pretty close to the scenario I brought my munchkin home to!

Although the Western style of parenting can work for some families, for many babies, it won’t make for a happy, fun time! In my situation, nearly any activity that separated me and my baby resulted in tears, less sleep for everyone, and an unhappy mum and baby. Fortunately, instead of just accepting this as normal, I looked for a solution… which led me to babywearing!

Changing What’s Normal

THIS is why normalising babywearing is so important. Because it is a very obvious answer to Western Society’s culture of separation.

Babywearing physically bonds babies to their mother (or another caregiver). It allows us to hold babies close, keep them in their safe and happy place, while being practical about everyday life.

babywearing normalise

We can’t cuddle our babies in our arms all day long – we have to go places, clean, eat, and so on. But babywearing means we can get on with life and still hold our babies where they are happiest.

Babywearing and Attachment Parenting

For me, seeing how well babywearing works for babies was the start of my journey into attachment parenting (which really goes against the mainstream parenting methods here in Australia).

Babywearing mother and baby

Attachment parenting is focused around responding to your child’s needs and forming a close bond to help them feel secure. It can include things like babywearing, breastfeeding on demand, and co-sleeping, but it’s really up to you to go with your intuition on what’s working for your child.

Attachment parenting assures parents that it is normal for your baby to not want to “go down” for naps or be separated from you. So instead of constantly fighting your child’s natural tendencies, you can relax more, go with the flow, and just respond to their cues.

There’s also a link between attachment parenting practices (like babywearing) and secure attachment, resulting in greater emotional availability in kids, better mood self-regulation, empathy, and lower stress levels. So it’s not just a win for babies, but it also has massive long-term benefits.

Why Normalising Babywearing Matters

Normalising babywearing would mean that more parents would come to this understanding sooner! And more babies would benefit from improved mental, physical, and emotional development.

I am already noticing more and more parents out and about choosing baby carriers over prams or other options. This is wonderful. But we still have such a long way to go.

For a lot of people, babywearing is still not the norm. Parents will often report that they get weird looks and comments from members of the public. Things like…

  • “Making a rod for your own back”
  • “That looks so uncomfortable”
  • “Can’t your child walk?”
  • “Can they breathe?”
  • “Is that even safe?”

As a result, many babywearers lack the confidence to wear their babies in public, for fear of judgement.

How to Normalise Babywearing in the West

First of all, do it! In public! By simply wearing your baby in public, you are influencing people’s perceptions of what works for babies and what is normal. Yes, you’ll get negative comments occasionally, but you’ll also get plenty of positive ones and curious questions.

Babywearing at a park

You just never know when a future babywearer, new parent, or pregnant lady might see you and decide to look into babywearing for themselves!

Another thing you can do is be open about it! Use your social media platforms to talk about the benefits of babywearing and how useful it is in your day-to-day life. Upload that babywearing selfie and be proud of it!

Finally, if you know of a new or expectant parent, introduce them to babywearing. If they show interest, take things further by…

  • Inviting them to a babywearing meet
  • Demonstrating a carrier for them
  • Adding them to appropriate Facebook groups
  • Gifting them a carrier for their baby shower
  • Lend them a carrier for when their baby arrives

Join me on my mission! Together, we can make babywearing the norm here in Australia, one family at a time!

Happy babywearing

<3

Angela

 

 

P.S. Do your bit to help normalise babywearing by sharing this article if you agree!

P.P.S. If you need anything babywearing related, like consultant help, or help choosing the right baby carrier, Brooke can help! Please send her a message at any time. `

 

Copyright Brooke Maree © 2017

Being a copycat or blatantly stealing is never cool. There is a fine line between inspiration and stealing, so please be respectful, honest, and full of integrity when sharing this piece of writing or using its information. Many hours of work, planning, and editing goes into our pieces to ensure the highest quality first-hand information. Any of our work that is plagiarised will be found and could constitute a copyright infringement and legal action. That being said, you are ALWAYS welcome to share our content, as long as you attribute and link back to the source. xxx





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