Each year in honor of Father’s Day, BWI of Hampton Roads highlights one of our Babywearing Fathers. We ask them to tell us a bit about how they got started with babywearing and share some tips, challenges, and advice. This post is a roundup of four of our members through the years who have shared their babywearing journey with us.
Paul is married to a BWIofHR educator Donna (me!) and has a little girl.
Seneca is the father of a beautiful little girl who loves to be worn.
Chris is a military personnel married to a BWIofHR educator and they have two active boys.
Al is a military personnel and father of two boys.
When did you start babywearing?
Paul: I’ve been baby wearing since the first day that M was born when a good friend of ours brought us a Boba wrap in the hospital and started to wear her immediately. Even before M was born Donna brought me to a BWI meeting and we began to learn about baby wearing and got to know the community.
Seneca: I was gifted a Moby wrap at her baby shower and have been babywearing since she was about 2 months old. I’ve always preferred wearing over car seats and strollers because i’m a veryyy attached father.
Chris: My wife had a ring sling and Moby waiting in the delivery room, I’m pretty sure. It was never really a question for me whether or not to wear my babies, although I am very particular on what I will wear them with.
How has babywearing helped you? Paul: Babywearing is a very practical tool to be with your child and get things done at the same time. I haven’t dealt with packing a stroller or lugging a car seat through the parking lot. When either Donna or I wear her, we have the freedom to go shopping or eat at a restaurant and know that she is safe and secure. I really like wearing her when she is tired and using it as a tool to help her get to sleep. I feel very accomplished as a parent when I can help my baby go to sleep and stay asleep. It keeps my hands free while I do some light chores, get work done, and even play video games. Wearing M also lets me help Donna regain some her own free time. It’s a very cool way to share the parenting experience between the two of us.
Al: [My wife] fell and injured her foot when C was about 18 months old and I had to really step in and help with C and the house more. Luckily I was on shore duty and had a good bit of leave to burn. I spent about a month at home, but started getting a bad case of cabin fever and started taking C to the parks and the mall and running errands and it just kind of became natural. Carrying the boys is fun because I can get out and mallrat (favorite hobby) and still bond with my kids.
What is your favorite carrier? Seneca: My favorite carrier has definitely been the side sling carry in my pouch sling, but I’ve been looking into trying a back carry soon. My adventures in wearing have been pretty smooth sailing so far so i’m hoping to have the same luck once i start new carries.
Chris: I think the first carrier I tried was a ring sling or Moby. Frankly, the ring sling pattern was not for me and the Moby wrap, and any wrap in my opinion, was a lot of work and took too much time. Immediately upon putting N in a Beco Butterfly II, I knew that I would never go to another carrier again. Of course I’ve humored my wife on a number of occasions, but the Beco is great. I can have the kids in it in less than 30 seconds. Definitely prefer the back carry over the front, just from the ease of being able to bend over and get things done. It’s like I’m wearing a backpack.
What challenges have you faced with babywearing?
Paul: The biggest challenge that I find is getting a carrier that is comfortable for my body. I’m quite short and stocky and don’t have the greatest flexibility. I need something that is comfortable on wider shoulders and doesn’t need me reach all the way across my back. With help from BWI I’ve been able to explore different styles and methods that work for me.
Al: There are times where I have felt patronized (by others) from time to time. I know I’m a big, bald, tattooed guy, but when I have a baby on my back, you should realize I’m just out doing the same thing you are — spending quality time with the kids. Dads are not out trolling or ogling others — we’re just as protective of our kids as you are and we see that dude over there with no kids, wearing sunglasses and just acting like a general creeper. Maybe it’s all in my head, but there is definitely some anxiety for a dad alone at the park with his kids.
What would you like everyone to know about babywearing?
Chris: It’s easy and is enjoyable for you and your baby. Your baby enjoys being close to you and you can be “hands free” allowing you to do anything you want. Well, almost anything.
Al: Do it. Guys too; it’s easier for me to get out and do things with the kids when I carry. Nowadays, I let C run around and “walk like a big boy” and carry C2, but I go shopping, play at the park, and we even go hiking at First Landing as a family. There are a lot of places you can go with a carrier that you can’t with a stroller. Its nice to follow C on the playground and play chasing games and C2 is right there with us. If I hadn’t started carrying with C, I wouldn’t be out having fun with both kids now.
* Donna Chin is the Chair of Education for BWI of Hampton Roads. She is sorry for the things she said when she was hungry. The opinions expressed are truly her own and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of BWI National or any of its affiliates.