Sunday, November 26, 2006

Wearing Baby

Besides having a bedtime, another key to having some freedom (while not going into let-baby-cry mode) would seem to be being able to pop him in a sling and go about my business. I've had the Maya Wrap sling since he was born, mainly since it was the one our birth instructor promoted by using it with her children while teaching.

There was definitely a steep learning curve the first couple weeks of using it, but I persisted primarily out of desperation to use at least one hand some of the time. I think it was also harder because he was a newborn with no head control or neck muscle tone, and it often seemed like he was just wadded up in the bottom of the thing.

Therefore, I often felt I had to support him with one hand instead of its being hands-free. Lately he's better about that aspect of it (and so am I, most likely). However, now that he's getting a bit bigger, he also doesn't want to lie down as often, and he often doesn't want his head inside the sling, either, so I still end up having to support him with one hand.

He really likes the upright aspect of the front carrier (that some friends handed down to us), but a) it's a pretty low center of gravity; b) it still has no head support for still-small ones like Limelet; and c) carriers that let the legs dangle down like that are not so great for babies' spines, especially smaller babies. But that upright posture really puts him to sleep right away!

Thus I have begun experimenting with different sling holds, trying to find some (or just one) that he likes. First I tried a pretty standard upright sling posture, which he likes, and can nurse in and then just go to sleep, as you can see here. It's mostly hands-free, though nursing is always hard to do without a little extra support.

Next I tried making up my own sling position. If he's facing inward, his rooting reflex is activated and he thinks he has to nurse and go to sleep, and then he gets irritated and fussy if he's not hungry and sleepy. He's too young for the standard kangaroo position, since his head doesn't stay up entirely on its own. So I made up an outward-sideways facing position that partly supports his head, as the next picture shows. Also mostly hands-free (but I sure can't lean forward very far).

Today he completely pooped up the sling while sitting in it like this (a not-infrequent occurrence). We have no backup sling, so I had to do without it for a while to wash it.

In the meantime, I got out the sarongs I got in Hawa'ii (not too big; about 5' X 4') and tried some "Simple Piece Of Cloth" (SPOC) slings from a website I really like now (link on sidebar). I also like their grassroots approach.

I used the Heart-to-Heart hold and added another smaller sarong (5' X 2') so I didn't worry that he was about to fall out all the time. He loved this one and fell asleep in it right away. In many ways this hold was the best thing I've worn so far: simple, personalized fit for both of us, no difficult clunky rings to adjust, high center of gravity, really light, very hands-free, and very portable.

Now I think I'm going to be trying more wraps and SPOC slings with just pieces of random fabric, saris, sarongs, shawls. Or whatever. TheLimey suggested mesh for summer, which is a great idea (also a St. George's cross flag, of course--which actually would be the same size as my sarongs, so I could do it). I really want to get a 6-yard piece of fabric so I can try the standard cross-wrap in the hands-free nursing hold, if he'll tolerate lying down. The baby, not the husband.


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