I would like to humbly propose that I am an expert on wearing other people’s babies. Perhaps it is because my two-year-old decided to weigh thirty-five pounds. Maybe it’s because I am lazy and the best way I know of to help someone care for their child is to wear them. Even more so, the reason may be that there is nothing that I like more than to snuggle and sniff a baby (with the probable exception of cheese; I do love cheese). Coupled with the fact that YOU CAN GIVE A BORROWED BABY BACK, wearing other people’s babies is really the win-win-win of the babywearing world. It’s Awesome! I do still wear that giant (almost) four year-old,
… but more than likely, I am wearing OPB (Other People’s Babies). If you too enjoy some borrowed snuggles, let me teach you my ways.
1. Have Permission. Uhm… yeah. Having the permission of the caregiver to take their baby and attach it to your person is (hopefully) the worst Captain Obvious attack known to the history of humanity. I would go a step farther, though, and make sure that you have the permission of the baby. You are handling their body and if baby does not “consent,” you will KNOW it. Always make sure you have everyone’s permission.
2. Pick a Happy Baby… or not. That said, not all babies that need to be worn will be happy. Sometimes a caregiver NEEDS some one else to take this baby and … wear it! I hear you. So the idea that you are always going to be asked to wear a happy smiley baby is a bit much to expect. To the degree you can, though, DO wear a happy baby. Try to make sure the baby is fed and dry before attempting to wear them.
3. Be Well. We all know babies and children are cesspools teeming with germs and all kinds of other unknowns. At any minute that adorable little snuggly baby could be eating dog poop… then kissing you. It happens. Make sure YOU are well, though. Don’t offer to wear someone else’s baby if you don’t feel 100%. Because babies have enough gross germiness without your help, yo. And hell hath no fury like a caregiver who knows you gave their child your stomach virus.
4. Understand that Baby-stuff Happens. Babies are gross. They drool and spit up and poop themselves. They sometimes try to eat food… with their ears. Some will pee on you, for sport. If you are wearing a very expensive dry clean only garment, perhaps wearing other people’s babies is not for you right now. Do you LOVE that piece of jewelry on its dainty chain? So do babies… to eat! Better to take it off. Every time you wear someone’s baby, you have to be ready for that baby to cover you in bodily fluids, pull your hair, or try to wear your earrings. Be prepared, babies will continue to troll you despite them not actually being your baby.
5.Travel with your own carriers… but be open to using others. Really miss using your favorite stretchy? Carry it in your trunk, you never know when you’ll find a baby that need wearing. More practical is to go big… big scarves that is! Big scarves double as a great shorty and are easily available for that moment when a baby who needs wearing just HAPPENS to show up (or their caregivers are exhausted from your insistent begging.)
Also, the fun of wearing other people’s babies is that you get to try new carriers!! Does baby have a favorite? How about their caregiver? Want to try something new to the market? Borrowed babies, yo. Enjoy.
6. Move. You already are already not-the-caregiver to this baby. Make it worth their while… get moving! Bounce. Bounce. Bounce. Pace. Repeat.
7. Make yourself available. Let people KNOW that you want to wear a borrowed baby. Maybe right now is not the right time, but if you have made people aware that you’d be willing to wear babies, they’ll come looking for you when the need arises… and it will. Giving a caregiver a break and making incredible connections in the meantime? Why not. Offer to wear toddlers and big kids too (their consent is often easier to navigate). Be THAT babywearer. It’s been me for a while and the benefits are tremendous: try all the carriers, get so many more snuggles, always be well accessorized. So… which entrepreneur wants to make me a t-shirt that says, “Will Wear [Your] Babies,” or “Your Baby Here”? Medium, v-neck, black. #takeallmymoney
8. Take ALL the selfies. So much of the babywearing fun is babywearing selfies. Enjoy the snuggles and cheese it up! Tag them #wearingOPB and check out other people enjoying borrowed baby snuggles (ok, fine, it’s just me now… but join me)! But also, make sure you have permission from the baby and their caregiver for selfies, especially for posting on social media!
9. Give the Baby Back. Far and Away the MOST important step in Wearing OPB. Uhm… be sure you do this. #freelegaladvice
Disclaimer: Cynthia Soliz is a liability attorney in private practice in Austin, TX, but often points out that she was a babywearer long before she was an attorney. The mom of two kids that she bribes into carriers with gummybears, she thoroughly enjoys wearing other people’s babies and will rarely turn down the opportunity. Just saying. A proud small business owner, a staunch school advocate, a reluctant sports parent, and the okayest mom, all the opinions expressed by Cynthia are her own (damn right). Previously the BWI Austin blogger, she blogs at various sites and should follow her own advice and start a blog of her own, but… lazy. To complain, please leave a comment below.