By Rita Chavez
From the moment I found out I was pregnant with my second child, I was genuinely nervous about how I would be able to keep up with life while recovering and adjusting to a new baby with no schedule. I remember those first months with Amelia, my older daughter, were focused on just her, with chores and other obligations put on hold. But with Adeline coming, I knew I would hit the ground running the moment we got home from the hospital, and life would continue on as normal for the rest of our household without waiting for me.
Queue the saving grace of babywearing.
We got home from the hospital three weeks before Halloween and I had no costume planned for Amelia. I was determined to make her costume from scratch, as I did every year before, and wearing a newborn who wanted to be constantly held made it possible for me to outfit Amelia in an awesome costume and accompany her trick-or-treating. From then on, I knew babywearing would be a vital tool to help me keep life going as planned while being able to enjoy those newborn snuggles with Adeline. But baby wearing not only served a functional purpose for me, I also found a hobby in it and the art of woven wrapping, and a community of friends and mentors.
I occasionally wore Amelia when she was younger, primarily in a soft structured carrier and a pouch sling, but I didn’t really give any thought to wrapping until a close friend of mine posted photos of her wearing her baby in beautiful woven wraps. I decided that I would try wearing Adeline in a woven wrap, and my sister purchased my first one for me as a baby gift. I watched endless YouTube videos on wrapping basics and carry tutorials and joined babywearing communities on Facebook. I researched brands, fabric blends, sizes, and benefits of using a woven wrap, and I was hooked.
While on maternity leave, I practiced wrapping daily, and once Adeline was settled in on my chest, it was the perfect opportunity to get small chores done or spend some one-on-one time with Amelia. As my wrapping skills improved, I learned new ways to carry Adeline and it really made me feel beautiful, even while in my pajamas, which is important for a mom who is rediscovering herself during that postpartum period. I learned how to safely carry her while producing sturdy knots and gorgeous finishes, and my wardrobe choices would revolve around which wrap or what carry I would use with the baby.
Trips to the grocery store, the zoo, and doctor’s appointments have become mostly stroller-free, as I normally have Adeline close against me in a woven wrap, and have free hands to hold Amelia’s AND my husband’s (bonus!). Baby wearing has helped me make countless meals at home, soothe a sick baby while running after a toddler, and set up and break down a giant Christmas tree, among many other things. Most recently, it has helped me connect with new friends after our recent cross country move, thanks to The Carrying On Project and its volunteers that hold playgroups and meetups throughout the country for caregivers that babywear or who are interested in it.
Everywhere we go, people stop us to mention how convenient and pretty baby wearing looks, and how happy the baby is. And even though she is a year old, I still wear Adeline in a woven wrap at least twice a day and we both enjoy every moment of it. These days are fleeting, and I will hold her close to my heart for as long as I can.
If you would like to learn more about baby wearing, you can visit Babywearing International for some great online resources or to find a local chapter near you. Chapter meetups throughout the country are usually scheduled once a month and are free to the public to attend. The meetups are run by volunteer baby wearing educators and each chapter usually has a library of different styles of carriers for attendees to try on. This would be a great way to learn about different carriers and which one you think would suit you best, and if you become a member of their chapter, you would be able to rent carriers from their library on a monthly basis.
Rita is an Army wife of ten years and a mom to two little girls. She graduated from University of Hawaii: West Oahu in 2010 with a Bachelor’s of Applied Science in Public Administration, but has a passion for helping animals and most recently worked for the oldest no-kill animal shelter in San Antonio, TX. As a recent military move led her family to bid goodbye to San Antonio, she now volunteers with The Carrying On Project in Fort Drum, NY, where she shares her love and knowledge of babywearing with other caregivers. When she is not volunteering, Rita enjoys taking photos of her daughters and dogs, and her hobbies include cooking and crafting.