Posted on 05/30/2016

Babywearing in the Military — Erin’s Story

Kiddo Carries

Managing a newborn and the day-to-day isn’t easy without a little bit of help — Which is why so many parents love babywearing. Savvy Every Day partnered with The Carrying on Project, a nonprofit that makes babywearing accessible to those in the military, to create a series about military personnel (and their spouses) who babywear. Every two weeks between Memorial Day and Labor Day a new family will be featured. Follow along as these parents share what babywearing means to them, and any tips they may have for parents new to the world of babywearing. Want to be a part of the project? Email savvyeveryday@gmail.com. This week’s post is from Erin C., an Air Force Reservist, full-time working toddler mom and military spouse in Colorado.

babywearing in the military

HOW THE BABYWEARING JOURNEY STARTED

I’ve been babywearing for almost 3 years now with my daughter. I started babywearing out of necessity and practicality. In those days, I had a hard time convincing my husband of its merits and justifying the price tag of an off-the-rack soft structured carrier.  We quickly learned— as many do— that babywearing is how stuff gets done.  At three days old, we purchased our first stretchy wrap.  Both my husband and I appreciated the closeness it allowed us to have with our daughter, which is a benefit of babywearing that is well researched and noted in Attachment Parenting.  It was down the rabbit hole from there.  I acquired a soft structured carrier, purchased a ring sling as my first Mother’s Day gift, and got into the world of woven wraps when my daughter turned a year old. Less than a year after that, I became a volunteer babywearing educator with our local Babywearing International chapter.

Photo by Brittany Wilson Photography

Photo by Brittany Wilson Photography. Wrap: Tekhni Chloris Key Largo, Size 5

BENEFITS OF BABYWEARING

As a mom who works full-time outside of the home and a military Reservist, the hours spent with my daughter are few and precious to me. Babywearing enables us not only to function when my spouse is gone (or vice versa) but solidifies our physical and emotional connection. That is priceless to me. My daughter has weathered both mine and my husband’s absences with success as a result of the relationship we’ve forged with her, in part due to our babywearing.

Babywearing also promotes and supports breastfeeding relationships, due to the child’s close proximity. Juggling military service while nursing and working outside the home is not an easy feat, but we were able to have a successful breastfeeding relationship for sixteen months prior to my departure for military training. My daughter has weathered both mine and my husband’s absences with success as a result of the relationship we’ve forged with her, in part due to our babywearing. Babywearing also promotes and supports breastfeeding relationships, due to the child’s close proximity.  Juggling military service while nursing and working outside the home is not an easy feat, but we were able to have a successful breastfeeding relationship for sixteen months prior to my departure for military training.

Photo by Ashley Cutwa Photography

Photo by Ashley Cutwa Photography. Carrier: Wrap Conversion Mei Tai (converted by Anaira Creations) made from a The Carrying On Project exclusive Natibaby Warrior’s Creed Americana wrap.

CARRIERS IN YOUR STASH

My carrier “stash” size has decreased over the year as my daughter ages and we wear less and less. My favorite carriers now include soft structured carriers for easy ups and downs, as well as chores around town, and woven wraps by Tekhni. I’m partial to Kinderpacks made by Kindercarry, a small, American-based business. These are likely to be the last carriers that leave our home due to their high quality, ease, comfort, and reliability. When I want to wrap, I reach for my Tekhni brand wraps— Especially those that are Repreve blends.  Tekhni is also an American company, and I love the support from their Repreve blend wraps, a recycled material made from water bottles. It gives the support of wool but easy care and durability. Support is key when you’re carrying a 36 lb toddler!

FAVORITE CARRY STYLE

My favorite type of carry is a back carry, either in my soft structured carrier or woven wrap.  With woven wraps, I’m partial to those with multiple passes and candy cane chest belts (CCCB), to help better distribute weight and relieve the pull on my shoulders. My go-to carries with a woven wrap are Half Jordan’s Back Carry (HJBC) with a short woven wrap or a Double Hammock with a CCCB with a longer wrap.

erin and daughter

Photo by Brittany Wilson Photography. Wrap: Tekhni Chloris Key Largo, Size 5

BABYWEARING TIPS FOR NEWBIES

Babywearing is not a privilege for the wealthy!  There are so many great resources and carriers out there for those working within a tight budget. Just $23 can buy you an Infantino Mei Tai that will provide ergonomic support for your child and allow you to wear them comfortably and safely.  There are DIY groups on Facebook, as well as FB groups that buy/sell/trade budget friendly carriers. If you’re considering incorporating babywearing into your parenting, I highly recommend you attend a local babywearing meeting, whether it’s BWI or an unaffiliated group. Most groups have a lending or learning library, where you can try on carriers and sometimes borrow them to see if you like them. It’s a great way to figure out what works for you and your family, while having a minimal impact on your budget. There are so many great online resources out there as well.  YouTube is a treasure trove of videos by seasoned baby wearers and babywearing groups that can help you troubleshoot your carrier or learn new techniques/carries. I taught myself to wrap largely from watching YouTube videos.

Why do you wear, what are your tips?

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