I’ve said before that I hate the word “babywearing” (thanks, Dr. Sears). But I hate the word “babywearer” more. The noun form makes me squicky, because when you start labeling people rather than actions – think “attachment parent” versus “co-sleeping” – identity gets all tangled into it. Am I babywearer? Is she a babywearer? Who can we call a babywearer and when? Babywearing risks becoming an identity rather than a behavior. Which is cool if you want that identity, but not cool if you don’t, or if you want to construct your identity by excluding others.
But let’s go with it.
As babywearing has gotten more popular, and the internet has gotten more involved, and mamas have formed
cliques drama conglomerates Facebook groups, who or what babywearing entails has become more contentious, because hormones and identity politics and general human propensity for argument.
So let’s clarify some things.
I have three kids and a goodly stash of wraps (both DIY and handwoven, thanks, and I use them all the same), and I wear on a daily basis, both front and back and hip. I teach other mamas to carry their babies and write about babywearing on the internet. I am a babywearer.
One of my BFFs has one wrap, an Ergo, and a Bamberoo. She doesn’t come to many meetings and has never, to my knowledge, talked about babywearing on the internet. She is a babywearer.
My husband wears for strictly utilitarian reasons, like getting our kids to sleep or getting housework done. He has two carriers he uses exclusively and absolutely zero interest in another one. He is a babywearer.
My internet buddy has a giant wrap stash and a preschooler who rarely consents to be wrapped. She is a babywearer.
The lady from Signing Time, Rachel Coleman, carries her disabled 11 year old in a custom Babyhawk, an Ergo, and a Deuter backpack. She is a babywearer.
I have another friend who’s a mama of one (soon to be two). She borrowed a wrap from me a while back, used it for a while, and returned it. She’ll borrow another for her next baby. She always comes to our meetings. She’s getting a C-section and lets her baby sleep in a crib and stopped nursing at like six months. She is a babywearer.
My babywearing BFF uses sposies on occasion. This does not impact her identity as a babywearer.
I have another dear friend who used a front-facing infantino for a long time. She came to our meetings and rocked it. Her daughter loved it. She was a babywearer then and she’s not more of a babywearer now that she uses an ergo.
My mommy mentor has four kids. Her youngest is six. She wore all her kids and teaches mamas how to wear. She’s still a babywearer. Her kids’ circumcisions don’t make her less of babywearer, either.
I know ladies with stashes probably worth more than (both) my car(s combined). They are babywearers. They aren’t somehow more of a babywearer by virtue of the sheer meterage of Didymos in their possession. That meterage doesn’t make them less of a babywearer, either.
Ladies who have sixty wraps and wear one are babywearers. Same with the mama who has one DIY and uses it daily.
Made your own mei tai? You’re a babywearer.
Use your stroller out and your Moby at home? You’re a babywearer.
You’re a babywearer if you stalk for Tekhni or buy Didy used, if you pine for a Kinderpack or rock a Sleeping Baby sling.
There are more experienced wearers. There are less experienced wearers. There are mamas who make wearing their lives and mamas who just wear so they can do the dishes.
You can be an attachment-parenting, organic-gardening, tie-dyed-wearing kumbaya hippie who owns an artisan mill and be a babywearer. You can be a corporate power mommy who feeds formula and be a babywearer. You can be anywhere on the spectrum of crunchy and mainstream, because diametric opposition sucks and just creates more problems. Stay at home mom or work out of home daddy, grandma or nanny or auntie – Do you keep a baby close in some sort of sling, wrap, or carrier? You’re a babywearer. If you habitually or occasionally fasten a child to yourself in some manner for some reason, Congratulations. You’re a babywearer. It’s a wonderful thing to be, and a fun thing to be, and it’s awesome you hold that baby close. Babies like that.
Your baby may be more comfortable in some carriers than others. But the comfortable baby in the bjorn is just as loved and happy as the comfortable baby in the handwoven wrap fashioned of magical unicorn poop by a fair-trade collective of Mirkwood elves.
So quit side-eyeing the narrow-based bjorns. Quit gaping about how much money so-and-so dropped on a basilisk-fur-handwoven. There’s nothing wrong with loving carriers and stash shots and stalking. But there’s nothing wrong with sticking to one mei tai, either. It’s not about the carrier.
It’s about the baby.
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