by Mindy Farmer
Farmer’s markets, trips to the zoo, crowded fairs, nature walks, a day at the beach; all family-friendly, but not stroller-friendly, activities.
Families often believe they have two unappealing options when it comes to babies and warm-weather activities. One is the grin-and-bear-it approach, where you pull out the bulky stroller, pushing awkwardly through narrow crowds and bumpy terrain. The other is to divide and conquer, leaving one adult behind with baby, while the other navigates “family” time alone.
There is a third option: Wear your baby. Baby carriers – slings, wraps, soft structured carriers, and mai teis – are well-loved in the natural parenting world. You don’t have to fit into a parenting niche to enjoy babywearing, however. With the growing popularity and accessibility of carriers, many families are discovering the freedom and comfort that comes wearing baby on your front, side, or back.
Babywearing makes everyday activities like shopping, cleaning, and yard work, easier with baby. I rarely hauled my bulky baby car seat out of the van this past winter. No need to perch it precariously on a shopping cart. I simply put baby in our soft structured carrier instead and covered with a blanket for the quick walk to the store. Baby often slept while I completed my shopping or snuggled with me while taking in the world around him.
Some parents feel overwhelmed by the ties or buckles associated with baby carriers. If you can figure out the latches and buckles for strollers, then you can use a carrier. While some families choose to purchase more than one carrier, one adjustable carrier can work for multiple adults.
A quality, ergonomic carrier will allow both you and your baby to be comfortable for extended periods. I often wear my baby to places such as the park, children’s museums, or soccer games. Baby can switch between my front and back, nurse discreetly, and remain close to me while I engage with our other children. No need to locate stroller parking or put baby on my hip and strain my back.
Baby carriers come in a huge variety of fabrics, features, and prices. Before investing in a carrier, find a babywearing group or natural baby store and try on different options. Resources for Illinois include:
Faithful Baby – A locally owned, family business in Springfield.
Cotton Babies – A family-owned business, with two locations in St. Louis.
Wrapyourbaby.com – Links to babywearing groups in Illinois.
Babywearing International – A wealth of resources on how to comfortably and safely wear your baby.