Dear Beginning Babywearer
"This older gentleman was in awe of you," the cashier at Aldi said to me. I gave her a puzzled look and reminded my 4 year old not to put his mouth on the shopping cart. "We watched you wrap your baby on your back in the parking lot," she gestured toward the large store front window, "He said 'She makes it look like its nothing.'" My cheeks flush a bit, "Lots of practice," I reply cheerfully, patting the bum of the bouncing toddler on my back.
Driving back from the mundane errand, I think about the man's comment. I replay the chipper, "OMGeeee, she's so snuggly back there!" from a passing young woman as I was tying off the ruck carry before grabbing my oldest and rushing into the busy store. Babywearing, and wrapping in particular, has become such an ingrained part of my parenting that I don't often give it a lot of thought.
I vividly remember the feeling of awe and wonder when I saw a mama gracefully toss her baby onto her back, wrap tails cascading like shooting stars. Before I had even picked my jaw up off the floor she was tying off and baby was nestled into the nape of her neck in the most beautiful, neat bundle. A colorful Origami fold of beautiful fabric and #oxytocinvibes. "I'll never be able to do that," I thought to myself, "My arms aren't that strong. I can't stretch that way. I'll never remember the steps."
I bought my first woven baby wrap when my son was about 5 months old. It was a striped, beige and cream size 6 Dolcino I bought on Amazon. I was determined to learn the incredible skill of baby wrapping. I had figured out how to do Front Wrap Cross Carry after watching YouTube babywearing guru's Wrapping Rachel and Wrap You in Love on repeat. I figured that I could learn how to do a basic back carry the same way. Each attempt left me sweaty, swearing, and in tears. I remember one particularly emotional attempt with my husband spotting me where I cried that "I'll never get this! What is wrong with me!? Maybe he just hates being worn?" and then I sobbed.
Babies love being worn. I did get this skill, and then went on to teach other parents locally. In fact, I love teaching parents how to wear their babies because I don't want anyone to feel defeated like I did when I was learning. For me, everything clicked when I tried a size 4, and suddenly I wasn't getting lost in long tails and I could navigate my passes. Now, I can ruck in any size, but when I was learning, the right size made the difference.
Dear Beginning Babywearer,
You've got this. This skill is hard, but not very hard. You can do this. Give yourself grace and the space to make mistakes. Think of it like dancing. Both you and baby need to learn the steps, but it is your job to lead.
It is ok to make mistakes. You will get better, faster, more precise the more your practice. As long as baby is safely supported and has a clear airway, it's ok that your pass got twisted or you have too much tail on one side. Your wrap won't combust because your middle marker isn't center chest.
It's so much better when you can go get help in person or via video chat. So. Much. Better. Having someone who can give you helpful tips and encouragement is invaluable. Babies love to be worn. People love to wear babies. This skill is absolutely worth your time and effort. There is something so primal about having your child pressed close to your body, safe and warm as you go about your day, that I have never once doubted that babywearing is a critically important part of parenting.
Don't lose faith in yourself. Try a different carry, a different size wrap, a different YouTube tutorial, a different time of day, a different carrier. With some practice it will soon become second nature, and you will have grocery store shoppers staring in awe of your beautiful and practical skills.
With Sincere Belief in You,