Monday, April 27, 2009

Slingin it! The Evolution of our Baby Wearing Relationship

Since Jonah was born, there has been one item that has been the staple in my sanity. The one item that gets the title of "baby gear I cannot live without." Something that I have multiple versions of to keep in multiple places, lest I be caught without one. This golden item is: My sling. Oh the wonderful gift from heaven that gave me free hands once again! Jonah was a very needy new born. I was also a very needy new mommy. He did not like to be put down, and I did not like putting him down. We were the perfect pair, really. Except when my husband started to notice all of the laundry piling up, dishes getting crusted over, and the dog complaining for walks. I was also being bombarded with phone calls from friends "Why aren't you responding to my emails???" Um, because that takes two available hands!!! 
The first time I tried the sling, it was a little awkward. My sister lent me a ring sling that was homemade by one of her friends. I slipped it over my shoulder just as she taught me, made sure the ring was in the right position... okay, now fold the fabric like so... or like so? put the baby in.... I look like a fool! That was honestly my first remark as I looked in the mirror. But, I had to walk the dog. I needed to get out of the house. I still felt awkward, but I took a deep breath and stepped out the door with my puppy trailing behind and my baby in my pouch. A jogger
  stopped by to oogle at the baby. She asked how old he is. That is when I had that moment that all new mommies have. The "wow, I'm a mommy" moment. The "This tiny guy is so dependent on me, because I'm his mommy" moment. I think that it's because it was that moment that brought me those feelings that I am so attached to slinging Jonah. I don't know if it was in fact the sling that brought it about, or if it was just the first time an outsider had noticed and asked me about my baby, but either way I bonded with the sling at the same time that I was bonding with Jonah.

Since then I have made several adjustments to the way I wear Jonah. I have bought several slings. A padded ring sling, a hot sling, a baby bjorn carrier (for my husband) and some mommy-made slings. Some of them are long lengths of fabric that are secured by two rings (giving them the name ring sling) and some of them are simply tubes of fabric that are fitted to create a "pocket" for baby. In the beginning, I wore only a ring sling, and Jonah rode facing out like a baby kangaroo:
or sometimes he rode cradled:

As he got older, I started to feel very comfortable with facing him towards me. This is the only way that he rides now. 
The more we used the sling, the more uses we found for it. I used it for nursing in public, and even used it to nurse at home. By wearing Jonah in the sling, I could discretely unbutton my shirt and give him full access to the "milk bar" as I vacuumed, folded laundry, or even when I went grocery shopping! One time I was shopping for scrapbooking paper, and the sweet little old lady who was at the register decided she'd take a peek in. She got an eye full when she saw my sweet little booger nursing as she pulled the fabric back! He of course instantly pulled off to look at her, which just made her view all the better!

It also has been a tremendous help with elimination communication. I've been able to tend to the housework while keeping an eye on Jonah's cues, as well as knowing exactly when I've missed a cue. He often rides naked, or with just a coverless diaper so that I can tell instantly when he has to use the potty. 

I've worn him while dancing with my husband, and while playing skee ball! Sadly, I'm getting the feeling that this too will become a thing in our past. Jonah has become so independent, that he is beginning to prefer other options to the sling. He really enjoys sitting in the shopping cart seat, for example, and will sometimes yell at the grocery store until I take him out of the sling and put him in the cart. He doesn't cry, he yells. Looks right at me, opens his mouth wide "AAAAAAGHHH" then I put him in the cart with a sigh. He'll make a fine toddler.He would also rather be playing on the floor with his toys as I do chores, instead of sitting in the sling as he used to. This is fine, because he is getting so big that he's kind of in the way when I wear him to do chores. Although, I do get kind of lonely while switching the laundry out.

I am not sure how I feel about this newfound independence of his. Part of me is glad that he won't be "attached" to me for forever. There *is* talk about adding a new addition to our family, and I can't imagine having to wear him while pregnant. I most likely will do it a little bit, but it's nice to know that I would be able to put him in his pram and he'd be just as happy at this point.
Daryl and Me Dancing with Jonah

Jonah and Me playing Skee Ball with the sling


  1. I also find Babywearing a fantastic EC Tool!

    What signs tell you he needs to go?
    Let me guess:
    - straining at the sling
    - wriggling uncomfortably
    - little noises

    My Jett wears his sling with his bottom bare most of the time too! Makes for easy potty stops.


    P.S I 've wondered what Skee Ball was!

  2. I am a single mom and could not live without my baby carriers. With my first I only had one pouch style sling and I used it EVERY day. Now I have a variety. I love your pictures. Jonah looks so content. :)

  3. Charndra- It is different for bowel movements and urination. For urination, he simply gets very quiet and stares off distantly. There is only a second between when I see these cues and when he goes though, so I wish I could find something that he does a bit sooner. For bowel movements, it is like you say. He starts to riggle and make little grunting noises. He can get fussy like something is causing him physical discomfort. He furrows his brow and bears down gently. If I don't notice until the last two, then he is already started by the time I get him to his potty, but when I make the signal noise he REALLY bears down. I think he tries his best to hold it until I notice his cues and give him the signal.

    Skee ball is a game where you roll the ball up a ramp and try to get it into a bullseye type goal. The middle is worth more points, and the outside is worth none.

  4. Sheryl- Thank you for your nice comment. It is great to hear that so many other mothers have realized what a great tool the sling is!