26 February 2011

One Reason Why I Babywear

My older daughter’s school requires parents to volunteer a certain amount of time or pay a tuition increase.  Since I don’t have the extra cash to waste on something easily avoided and also needed to get out and meet people in our new neighborhood, I decided it was a great opportunity for me.  Well, for us.

Yes, us.  For myself and… baby!  I don’t have family nearby and I also don’t know anyone in order to leave her during the day to volunteer.  So, I take her with me to the school.  But how to do that without causing a distraction for myself and the students or putting her in a potentially dangerous situation?  Baby wear!

I volunteer once a week for lunch duty, sometimes more if needed.  So, we go to the office, sign in, and I strap baby to my front or back in our Mei Tai or Ring Sling, whichever I brought along that day.  I’d love a wrap as well but that’s not an option right now.

We walk into the cafeteria and greet the students who all, at first, crowded around asking a thousand questions: “Is this your baby?”, “Why is she in that thing?”, “What’s that called?” and comments about how most of them had never seen such a thing.  Now, as the year has gone by, they are used to seeing baby and myself and simply say “Hello” to both of us, greet the baby by name, and go on about their lunch break.

The main reason I am at lunch duty is to help the younger children open milk cartons and their lunches, clean up messes, walk around and make sure every child is eating, has something to eat, and is happy.  You never know when you might come across a kid who doesn’t feel well, or got their feelings hurt, or forgot their lunch, etc.  And since baby is in a carrier, my hands are free to help while baby helps them smile and feel more open with me to share whatever problem they might have.

There is a particular girl who in the beginning of the year was being picked on for looking different. It’s not her fault.  So, wearing this exciting and excited baby of mine, and sporting a pair of glasses that day as well, I sat and talked with her at lunch while the children who picked on her watched.  She has not been picked on since that day as far as she has told me, and feels special because I make it a point to stop and talk to her every time.  Again, with baby who’s smiling, laughing, and hugging her from her safe perch against Mommy’s chest.

My older daughter loves to see us and tells everyone, “That’s my Mommy and Baby Sister!” and tells everyone about us.  She’s very proud.

And, of course, we can’t forget baby.  At first, she was still a little baby so she would watch quietly snuggled against me and after a few minutes, fall asleep.  Now, she’s over a year old and smiles and squeaks and “talks” to the children and watches everything they do.  She’s developing relationships, recognizing certain faces, and learning how to act in social situations, all from the safety of my arms, or baby carrier.

I think the cutest experience out of this so far has been the fact that many girls have come up to me asking how to wear a baby and parents have also told me, some showing cell phone pictures, that their children now walk around the house “wearing” their baby dolls with scarves, pillow cases, etc.  One little girl even asked Santa Claus for a toy ring sling.  Her mother came to me and asked where she could find such a thing.

I knew volunteering at a school is important.  But I never realized the kind of impression my bringing baby along would do, especially since I am not an expert at baby wearing at all.  I hope this inspires someone to wear their baby and maybe even realize that doing so opens the world to them and their child in an easy and nurturing way.


Kasia said...

That's a really heartwarming story :D I was sitting here with a big fat smirk in my face reading this :D The area I live here has a lot of young mothers, and baby slings are all the rage and a very common sight, but I am in the midst of a large bustling city and not far in the wild wild West.

I think baby slings are the best, but one needs to be careful and learn about which ones are the right ones and how to use correctly. There was a huge baby sling recall in the USA one year ago, because a certain type of sling led to suffocation. Here is the video on YouTube: Baby Sling Recall (CBS News)

I think a baby sling should generally come with a book and it should be sold only in special stores, and not in supermarkets or similar. It is not a toy after all, a first time mother needs to know how to use it correctly.

So that said, it is good that modern mothers can connect online and exchange tips and advice :) This is truly life saving.

Unknown said...

I am a member of a babywearing group and I think that it's a great resource since I really learned a lot about the correct carrying positions. I love it.

Sadly, that recall was partly because of a lack of information and common sense. The best pieces of advise I got in babywearing was:
1. "KISS" (Keep Infant Safe from Suffocating, meaning keeping baby's face clear and unobstructed & their chin from being pressed into their chest & keep them close enough to kiss)
2. Have their knees higher than their butts to prevent lack of circulation or slippage
3. When you put baby in the carrier, make sure that if you bend forward they don't move from your body, that they are on tight.
4. Keep checking on baby.

There was a bill attempting to be passed, I don't recall if it was successful or not, that effectively banned baby carriers in the US (instead of regulating them). Sadly, I learned also that more children die of asphyxiation in carseats than in baby carriers, which I definitely can believe.

My cousin is the one who finally turned me on to baby wearing in the first place. I plan to write about that very soon.

Glad you enjoyed it!

Mira Crisp said...

that's a nice story and a great place to volunteer. thanks for stopping by; I actually miss the snow. :)

Anonymous said...

that's a great story! I've never used anything like that... but... I just simply can't. Can't be lifting things for longer than a few minutes... not talking about walking and lifting... that would be a suicide for me or at least asking for more demage to my spince since it was once broken :-/
Too bad... I really like that idea... And I really like when woman do that in public. It's great!

btw... if you decide to start using GIMP just let me know... I'll help you to start.

hugs from my corner... trzymajcie się ciepło!