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The Convenience of Closeness

The stresses of being a parent, coupled with common daily tasks such as working, errands, and housekeeping can be extremely overwhelming. Tending to your responsibilities while struggling with swings, high chairs, strollers and other bulky devices used to keep your baby safe and happy can be more of a hindrance than help. These items are often pricey and short lived, cluttering up space and emptying your wallet. There is an easier way to accomplish these tasks while saving space, money and LOTS of tears from you and your loved little one. The answer is a timeless technique used for ages called Babywearing.

For centuries, women and men alike have kept their babies safe and happy by utilizing babywearing techniques while tending to their duties. Cultures that keep their babies close to them have babies who cry much less than in other more modernized cultures that use cumbersome devices to transport and entertain their babies. Keeping the baby close to your body provides the wearer with awareness of what your baby needs and allows you to respond quickly before the baby has to cry for attention, eliminating much time spent comforting an already upset child and loosing track of what you were doing. Studies (Hunziker, U. A. and Barr, R, G. (1986).) have shown that babies who are carried and/or worn cry 43% less through out the day, compared to babies who were left in devices such as baby seats and cribs.

Babies that are carried or worn see a wider range of their caregiver's activities, absorbing and learning more from their environment and the alertness of the caregiver. On average, most people will talk more to the baby when it is close and therefore, language and communication skills can develop faster. If a baby is in a stroller or car seat, they are often times left at ground level looking towards the sky, with little or no stimulation from surrounding people.

For parents with multiple children, wearing your infant while tending to the older children allows for more play time and learning time for all the members of the family. For some parents, having a double stroller is not an option due to financial and spatial restraints. These devices can also become an overwhelming piece of equipment that is often unwieldy and difficult to maneuver around stores, use in conjunction with public transportation and personal vehicles, and take up large amounts of room in people's living quarters .

Many new moms feel uncomfortable nursing in public and find themselves not going out much in the early stages of the baby's life because of such frequent feedings. Wearing your baby in a carrier keeps them close to the breast and allows for very discreet nursing and easy napping. This also helps to promote healthy production of breast milk for mom, making it easier to continue to breastfeed with confidence that your baby is getting enough and as frequent enough as they need.

So, if there are all these great benefits, why don't we see more of it? I ask myself this question all the time. Let me introduce myself. My Name is Kaire Downin, and I am the mother of 3 children. I found babywearing to be the most efficient way to run errands and get my responsibilities taken care of, starting with my first child. I wore my son in a sling and a framed back pack, all of which I purchased in department stores or thrift stores; he very rarely ever sat in a stroller or stayed in a car seat happily. After I was done using these carriers I passed them on to friends with babies to try out and they loved them! My only problem with these carriers was they weren't as comfortable or pretty as I would have liked them to be. I lived with bursitis in my shoulder from wearing a popular low priced sling. I was as determined to wear my baby as he was to be worn, so I didn't stop when I was uncomfortable.

With my second child, I used the same sling and back carrier as I did with my son and had the same problems and nearly gave up. She was not as high needs as my son was and didn't mind being left in a bouncy seat, was pretty content on the floor or with another person, but she was only 6 months old when I became pregnant with my third.

When my third child was born, she was more high needs than the rest of them. The need for her to be carried in a way that would allow me the freedom of running after my 16 month old toddler and 5 year old preschooler was also higher and I was sure sick of that ugly old carrier I had. I decided it was time for something new so I did some searching online and found www.thebabywearer.com, where I looked through lists of types of carriers, who made them, how much people loved them and then I bought a mei tai. I loved this design yet, this model was not as comfy as I wanted it to be, and I really would have liked longer straps and different fabrics. So I went to designing a better one for myself. I offered this "new" carrier to my friends and family members and then started offering them for sale. Within 2 months I had a 6 week waitlist and have now sold 100's of these carriers in beautiful fabrics and have helped many mothers and fathers find a way to tackle their daily challenges and do it with a happy baby, therefore creating a happier family.

So now my issue is helping people understand that babywearing won't spoil your child, it won't hurt your back if you get the right carrier for you, it is more convenient than lugging around car seats and strollers, and that most babies DO like being tied to your their caregiver! The problem seems to be a lack of immediate information, readily available varieties of carriers to try on, the ability to experience them first hand, and the misconception that you can only buy baby carriers in stores; which, incidentally, are the ones that turn people off to babywearing in the first place, being uncomfortable, often overpriced and only usable for 3-6 months.

Solution? Research.

Find the carrier that is right for you, your family, and your budget. There are several kinds of carriers and several online vendors who make and distribute them with all their own individual tweaks and concepts that make them unique.

There are Ring Slings: a long piece of fabric with rings on one end that you thread the other end through and make a pouch for the baby to sit or lay in. They come in different fabrics from solid colors, to fancy brocades and colorful batiks; they come in different sizes, different shoulder styles and accessories like pockets, cell phone clips and diaper bags.

There are Pouches: very similar to a sling except it is not adjustable and has much less fabric.

These are one shouldered carriers that you can do front, hip and back carries, newborn to toddlers, discreet nursing, and give the wearer extreme compact convenience.

There are Wraps: a long piece of fabric used to wrap around you and tie your baby on. These kind of cloth carriers are the most versatile of carriers. The wearer can utilize a cradle hold, a vertical hold, front, back, and hip carries at different levels and heights. These qualities make this carrier a must have from newborn to toddler!

There are Mei Tais, a type of Asian carrier: these carriers are usually a rectangle piece of fabric with 2 or 4 straps coming from it. These can be easily adjusted to the individual wearer making it easy for several caregivers to use without adjusting buckles and clips, and are very versatile for newborns through toddlers, almost all the same types of carries as a wrap can be utilizied.

You can access a whole world of information on www.thebabywearer.com and www.mamatoto.org

You can access my webpage at www.freehandbaby.com for purchasing my mei tais and other Asian style carriers and for a list of links and distributors who carry many kinds for carriers, you are SURE to find one (or 2 or 3!) that suits your needs!

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