Thursday, August 15, 2013

Mighty Morphin' Power... Babywearers!

Mighty Morphin' Power... Babywearers!

My almost 3 year old son pretending to be a Power Ranger!

As I'm watching my two year old pretend to be a power ranger, I'm reminded that in a young child's eye there is no right or wrong.  As he runs through the house screaming "Power Ranger" and pressing his "morpher" on his left wrist while watching the original series of Mighty Morphin Power Rangers (who use morpher cards that they hold up and call out their zord names to morph), I can clearly see that he's "morphing" using a newer series technique.  To him though he's doing it correctly.  The above pictures are my son using his vacuum sword to protect his sister from the evil popcorn monster! 

As parents we desperately only want to do right by our kids.  In babywearing we hear so many different terms and some of them can make us feel inadequate or even judged.  Babywearing Around Tulsa's mission is to spread the love of babywearing.  As leaders we are here to help answer your questions, help you locate the carrier best for you, help you troubleshoot, etc; we are not here to judge you.  We are however human and sometimes we do not come across as the way we intend. 

So I'd like to explain some of the terminology that we use.

Safe versus Ideal: These two terms are very different but can be easily confused.  A Safe carrier is one that holds baby close to the wearer, hands free, without the child falling or suffocating.  An Ideal carrier is one that upholds the properties that place baby in a seated position, knees level or above bum, and upright.  A safe carrier is any carrier that has passed testing, has not been recalled and is used according to manufacturers' instructions.  Even an ideal carrier can become unsafe if not used properly, though a safe carrier is not always an ideal carrier.  Earlier today I was kissing on the baby and my son wanted to join.  Though his kisses were safe and not rough but gentle, slow kisses on the cheeks, they were not ideal.  Why you ask?  Because they were a slobbery, wet mess, but they still made the baby smile.  The same applies with babywearing; is your baby happy?

        Properties of an Ideal carrier:

·        Upright position

·        Front/Forward facing in (baby facing wearer)

·        Fabric knee to knee

·        Knees level or above bum

·        Baby's spine supported

·        Baby's legs supported

·        For newborns, baby's head supported

        Things that make a carrier unsafe:

·        Using a carrier past the manufacturer's recommended weight range

·        Not properly buckling the carrier

·        Back carrying prior to the recommended age/weight range (wait I was told by an admin that it was safe.....I'll get into this a bit further down)

·        Not using the extra support that is provided with the carrier (For example, not using the K'tan sash when the hold states the sash should be used)

·        A hold or carrier that places their chin on their chest (this possess a suffocation risk)

·        Using a carrier that has ripped seams, broken threads, etc

Photos like above circulate Facebook frequently among babywearers.  Though they do show the difference in non-ideal and ideal carriers, they also contain jargon and negative words that can be very off-putting for some.  As an experienced babywearer I know I don't always get things perfect (too much tension on rails, popped seat, shifted therefore not knee to knee, etc) and I know I get defensive if someone just tells me that I'm doing something wrong.  I personally prefer to hear "he's not quite knee to knee" instead of that's bad.  Most that I've talked to feel the same way. 

This leads to the next terms that are used very frequently, Recommended and Not Recommended.  I try my best as a leader to stay current in the recommendations that are put out by the babywearing schools.  So far these have not changed much since I've been babywearing.  With that being said, all their fundamentals are the same.  A carried baby is a happy baby.  All schools only recommend carriers that are safe, but not all of them only recommend ideal carriers.  In my personal opinion, there are levels of ideal babywearing and when we know better, we try to do better.  With this being said, when we state that something is not recommended or that this way is recommended it does NOT mean you are wearing wrong, just that another way is researched as better.  For example, back carries in any carrier are not recommended until six months old or the baby can sit unassisted.  If you'd like to see the research for any recommendation, feel free to ask.  I'd be more than happy to share with you.  So does that mean just because something is recommended that you MUST do it that way.  Absolutely NOT.  By all means you are the parent and you know your child the best. 

Spreading the Babywearing Love and Carrying All the Babies!

C.J. North is a babywearing activist who is a certified elementary teacher, but stays home with her three kids; 6yo stepson, 2.5yo son, and 5mo daughter.  C.J. has a love for cloth diapers and is crunchier than she ever thought she would be.  She also manages the allergy and special needs of her family, while being overly addicted to research.


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