Baby Wearing: The Art and Science of Carrying Your Baby – Part Two
It is important that a baby get used to father’s handling too. Father has a different rhythm to his walk, a difference that baby learns to appreciate. The snuggle hold and neck nestle are favorite wearing positions for father.
The neck nestle. Place the bay in the snuggle position and lift him up a bit until his head nestles into the curve of your neck. You will have found one of the most comforting and calming holding patterns. In the neck nestle dad has a slight edge over mom. Babies hear not only through their ears but also through the vibration of their skull bones. By placing baby’s head against your voice box, in the front of your neck, and humming and singing to your baby, the slower, more easily felt vibrations of the lower-pitched male voice often lull baby right to sleep. As you rock and walk with your baby, sing a calming song such as “Old Man River.”
Another attraction to the neck nestle is that baby feels the warming air from your nose on her scalp. (Experienced mothers have long known that sometimes just breathing onto baby’s head or face will calm her. They call this “magic breath.”) Babies enjoy the neck nestle more than any of the other holding patterns, and fathers will too. Dads, becoming a shareholder in the family art of baby wearing.
The Warm Fuzzy. For a uniquely male variation of the snuggle hold, place baby’s ear over your heart — bare skin to bare skin. The combination of the rhythm of your heartbeat and movement of your chest, plus the feel of abdominal breathing and the rhythm of your walk, introduce baby to the uniqueness of being worn by dad. If baby falls asleep during the warm fuzzy &as usually happens), lie down with your baby and drift off to sleep together (see “Wearing Down to Sleep.”)
For a father to be comfortable wearing his baby and a baby to respond to dad’s baby wearing techniques are real bonuses for mothers of high-need babies. It helps prevent mother burnout. Here is a common scenario of a mother of a high-need baby.
“I love our new baby, but he is one of these high-need babies and I need to wear him constantly. He was wearing me down and I was burning out. My husband feels very insecure in calming fussy babies and for this reason I was reluctant to release our baby to him during those trying fussy times. The sling was the answer. After my husband got used to wearing our baby, and I saw that our baby liked it, I felt more comfortable releasing our baby to him. Initially I would hover over my husband to make sure our baby would stop fussing but as soon as he proved himself as a competent baby wearer I felt a sense of relief. Even though I wear our baby most of the time, just having my husband share this beautiful experience gives me a much-needed break.”
I’m sure other father’s share this same experience. Here are some thoughts from a baby wearing father.
“I felt a real high the first time I put on my baby in the neck nestle and snuggled him against my chest for a walk. As we strolled together, I felt a sense of completeness. Sometimes I wore him for hours at a time. I felt right when we were together and not right (or complete) when we were apart. These are feelings usually reserved for the mother-infant pair. I wanted a piece of this baby wearing action, too. The more I wore my baby, the more comfortable we both became at trying different wearing positions. The more he liked it, the more I liked it, and the more we enjoyed being together.”
Other Baby Wearers
While infants enjoy being worn by their parents best, babies will adapt to substitute caregivers better if worn in the sling they are used to, “Home” to a baby can be in the sling.
Baby Wearing and Baby-sitters
Parents of high-need babies often confide that they are afraid to leave their baby with anyone because no one else can comfort these special babies. High-need babies who are accustomed to being worn are more easily comforted by a baby-sitter who wears them. A busy mom whose only hope of survival was to wear her high-need baby, relates this story. “Jason is so happy when he is in the sling that I feel comfortable briefly leaving him with a sitter. Sometimes if I’m in a hurry, I greet the sitter at the door, transfer Jason to her while in the sling — sort of like the transfer of a baton in a relay race — and she takes over the wearing. He forgets to fuss, and I feel better knowing his routine is not disrupted.”
Baby wearing by Siblings
When we adults wear babies, we model for our other children that big people carry little people. Children and grandchildren are later likely to adopt the style of parenting that they received or witnessed when young. For example, these children might sometimes “wear” their dolls in homemade baby slings because they have witnessed their parents wearing babies so often. The effect of role modeling on children’s views of the mother-infant relationship was brought home to some parents one day when their then six-year-old daughter was asked by her teacher to draw a mother and baby. She drew the two as essentially one person. She recognized that, at least in the early months, mothers wear babies, and the two are inseparable. childcare jobs