Babywearing has been essential to my ability to parent Wallace. In the early months, it was the only way I could grocery shop, do laundry, or work. It also saved our breastfeeding. My dad even wore him at Wheatland when I had my volunteer shifts (I didn’t get pictures!).
Since moving to Chicago, babywearing has been an integral part of our daily activities. I wear him on the bus and train, to do laundry and take the garbge out, and to go to the grocery store and park. We have been able to attend a few BWI meetings, borrowed a short wrap from a local mom, and bought a diy podaegi – a Korean baby carrier – from a fellow nanny. We get all kinds of looks and comments when he is up on my back.
Last winter, I had to wear him on my back to shovel snow a few times. Otherwise he was usually in the front and I would put my coat on over the ergo and tuck a blanket around him. That just doesn’t work when we have to stand and wait for the bus in negative windchills! I have had to come up with new ways of keeping us warm while babywearing. It has been an evolution.
In the fall, as it started to get cold, I would put a big sweatshirt over both of us, and zipped it most of the way up. This worked best if I could get him really high on my back, like with the shoulder to should double rebozo back carry with the borrowed short wrap. It was good for cool days but I knew it wasn’t going to work for long. Also, the hood kinda pushed into the back of his head, which wasn’t really comfortable for him in a lower back carry.
As it started to get colder, I would put the Ergo on over my coat, then scoot him around from my hip to my back, and flip the carrier up. His regular winter coat didn’t work with this. It rode up into his face and was too puffy. I found a great multi layer fleece peacoat that we got from a friend in some hand me downs. Not only is it adorable but it also works really well for wearing him. I also added the Ergo winter cover a friend gave me last year. Baby leggings have come in handy for winter wearing because it gives him an extra layer and covers the gap from his pant legs riding up.
One of the issues with this set up is that the many layers between us make the carrier fit loosely. That causes me pain from how the weight rests on my back and hips. Clearly, it also allows his head to fall back when he falls asleep! These issues are specific to my body and this carrier. Because I am so small, the shoulder straps do not get very tight and I can’t get the waste up high. I don’t have the ability to go buy more carriers so I gotta work with what I have.
Wrapping just doesn’t work well over winter coats but I wanted to have more babywearing options. I bought an oversized fleece from the thrift store and cut a horizontal slit in the back of it. I did a little sewing to keep it from ripping and getting too big. I didn’t come up with this on my own but saw it online. Babywearing coats can be purchased in a variety of styles, too. There are even inserts you can zip into the front of your coat to cover baby in a front carry.
It works great but isn’t warm enough for these frigid winter months. A better jacket could solve this problem but for now I put Wallace’s peacoat on him and I wear a wool sweater or a thick sweatshirt under it. This works for the Ergo, wrapping, and my podaegi.
I have been using the podaegi more lately. I like that I can get him nice and high on my back. That helps me and he can put his head on my back/shoulder when he falls asleep. I like that I can get his body nice and snug up against mine. This makes it a lot more comfortable. I can also put the Ergo cover over it for added warmth.
I get a lot of questions about how I get him onto my back. When he was tiny, I used to do what they call a superman toss. He thought it was fun and would laugh and smile. Then once I learned the shoulder to shoulder double rebozo carry, I learned how to hip scoot. That kept his shirts and coats from riding up and it was easier on my body. I only just recently figured out a new way to get him on my back. Well, really Wallace figured it out. I was sitting on my knees with the Ergo buckled around my waste when Wallace walked up behind me and grabbed onto my shoulders ready to go. It is so much easier! It also puts him in control of his body, which is fine if he isn’t tired, goofy, distracted, upset, or, ya know, being a toddler. I have started doing this with the podaegi and it helps me to get him really high on my back.
I am sure babywearing will continue to change for us as we approach spring and he approaches 30lbs! While getting him on my back at the grocery store, I had someone ask me how long I plan to carry him. My response was “as long as I need to.”
*A Note on Safety*
I have found it difficult to get a good seat in the Ergo when we have layers on. I take my time and make sure his butt shifts down into the seat of the carrier. Not getting a good seat can be uncomfortable for him but it also makes it easier for him to lean, which could lead to a fall. With more layers, it is important to make sure nothing is covering the baby’s face or wrapped around their neck in a dangerous way. Remember to check and make sure your child is warm enough but not too hot. I check his hands, feet, and belly when we get inside again. Then I can adjust the layers for the next trip so he is the right temperature. I also try to keep our trips short when it is really cold. We don’t need frostbite!