Tomorrow is Groundhogs day, will it be six more weeks of babywearing coats and woolie wraps? Or time to start thinking about breaking out the mesh water slings, linen blend wraps, and sun hats for our little ones?
No matter what the infamous Punxsutawney Phil and his shadow determine tomorrow when he pops out of his burrow, one thing is for certain: we are (hopefully) having a better day than Bill Murray did in the 1993 comedy “Groundhog Day.”
But what about that whole repeating the same day over and over again business? Don’t you sometimes feel like Bill Murray in that movie? At times, life with babies and toddlers can certainly make you feel like you’re in some comical time loop. But we know that our little ones often thrive on a predictable, repetitive routine, and as babywearers, we have skillfully built the art of babywearing into our daily lives. Used to soothe, or to complete tasks, or simply to bond, we’ve perfected our babywearing routine – getting that soft-structured carrier clipped on in no time, ready for a stroll through the park; or that mei tai tied on securely and ready to walk baby to sleep; sliding baby into that ring sling pouch to get those floors vacuumed; or wrapping baby up in a cozy wrap like a professional. We’re almost certain we can babywear in our sleep and we’ve worked hard to perfect our craft. Things are going smoothly along in your babywearing adventures….and then something changes, offering a sudden break in routine. Another child arrives and you’re ready to jump wholeheartedly into this babywearing thing yet again!
Don’t worry, you’ve got this. You’ve worn a baby before, so this will be a piece of cake. Right? It is easier the second time around in many ways. You know which carriers you like and may have one or more great ones that work wonderfully for you. You know which carrier you’ll want to grab in a particular situation, and you have your skills down and are more confident and comfortable in trying new things. But, as many babywearers find, regardless of how comfortable they have become wearing their older child, this new baby is not so routine when it comes to babywearing. They are infinitely smaller and oh so floppy compared to that toddler that you can swing on your back with ease. There is a period of reacquainting yourself with wearing someone so small, and for some who started using carriers when baby was older, a time to revisit the basics and learn exactly how to wear a newborn.
Some babywearers find a need to actually add a new carrier or wrap to their collection that is more suitable for a newborn versus their older sibling; many find the benefits of borrowing from their BWI chapter’s Lending Library an amazing advantage during this transitional stage! And, not to forget, that just as we have our preferences, so will this new little one. What worked the first time around and got you in your babywearing groove may just not be a good match to this child’s personality or habits or size. Those who use woven wraps often find that carries they once shouted from the mountain tops as being the most perfect carry out there ever, may suddenly do an about face with a newfound love of a variation or completely different carry altogether. Adding the infant insert in the soft-structured carrier may require different adjustments than you have been used to, and mei tais might need a little adjustment and simple modification to fit a smaller child. But, regardless of these changes, most babywearers are excited to jump in, figure things out, and try new things because they have experienced first hand life with babywearing and are confident that it will continue to benefit their growing family.
In all this break from routine, there is often a surprising (and maybe unexpected) reaction from the ones who started you and your family on this journey…the older sibling! This change in their normal can be a time of adjustment and a rekindled desire to be worn. Like recent new mother to two, Whitney, experienced: “It can be hard for my older child seeing me wear the baby. This has been one of the few things my toddler has ever been jealous over. Even though she rarely wants to be worn, she initially had a hard time watching me wear her baby sister.” Carving out time in your day for those big kid babywearing snuggles can be a great solution for both of you. Some babywearers take on new challenges during this time and level up to tandem wearing to meet the needs of both (or multiple) children….babywearing for everyone!
The sage advice from mother of 4, Melissa, sums up the experience of “the second time around” beautifully: “Don’t expect wearing your next child to be just like wearing your first. This is a different child, your family will have a different dynamic, and you will be a different parent than you were last time around. Let your individual wearing relationship develop and enjoy it for what it is. Keep wearing that older child if/when you can, because one wearee does not replace the other, and you both still need that special bonding that wearing provides. I thought babywearing was babywearing and I’d be glad for a new child who will let me wear him (and I am), but when the toddler does let me wear him now, I’m like, “Oh yes. YOU.” It’s like putting on a favorite pair of jeans.”