Babywearing: Fussy to Fast Asleep in a Week
The Fussy First Few Weeks
Babywearing gave me a new life with my newborn! As a first time mom, I had no idea how all-consuming taking care of an infant could be. I had a particularly fussy baby due to nursing issues we were having. My baby catnapped throughout the day, sleeping on his own for about 15 minutes before needing to be held, fed and soothed. Luckily, I had the support of family for the first few weeks. I don’t know how I would have survived without it.
I knew that after about 3 weeks, however, I would be on my own for most of the day. I dreaded the idea of a day by myself with a baby that could not be laid down to sleep. I was willing to let some of the household chores go by the wayside for a few weeks but I needed to find a way to extend my baby’s naps so I could have some mobility around the house and, at the very, feed myself!
Also looming ahead of me was another huge challenge: I would be going back to work part-time when my baby turned five weeks old. Luckily, I would be going to work environment which was very baby-friendly. I would be able to bring my baby with me and nurse as needed. But how was I to function with a fussy baby who never liked to be put down?
Enter: the Moby® baby wrap. I had registered for a wrap thinking it would be a fun way to carry the baby when I was out and about running errands or taking a walk. I expected that it was something I could use when baby was a few months old; a nice idea for sometime in the future, not for now when I was exhausted and at my wits-end with a fussy baby. After those first few weeks, I was ready to give anything a try. At first, I was intimidated by the wrap. As I stared at the seemingly endless feet of material, I thought: “this must be for a more adventurous mom.” But, after I pulled out the directions, things got easier. It took several tries to get it tied correctly but I tried to stick with it and suppress my frustration when the wrap would bunch up or get tangled. In the end, I used a mirror to make sure I was wrapping it correctly in the front and back.
When I finally had the wrap tied in a way that seemed snug and secure, I now wondered how the baby was going to fit between me and this tightly wrapped fabric. Watching a few videos from the Moby® website helped me to visualize the process of getting the baby into the wrap and how it should look and feel when he is in there.
Finally it was time to give it a try with the little guy. I hoped he would settle right into this wrap and sleep. Not so for the first try. It was awkward, at first, to slide him into the wrap and I felt my confidence sink. He fussed, cried and tried to wiggle out of the fabric. I took him out and held him until he calmed down. I was starting to feel doubtful but I didn’t want to give up after putting so much work into getting it on. I tried again with him, bouncing and soothing him as I positioned him in the wrap. This time he calmed down for a few minutes; we were slowly making some progress. When he cried and fussed, I took him out; a few minutes were enough for one day. Every day following, I tried to keep him in the wrap for a few minutes more, as long as he would tolerate. It didn’t take long for us to get used to it.
Benefits for Me
Within a week, I had him sleeping in the wrap and I felt like I had turned a huge corner in my ability to be independent and at the same time soothe my fussy baby. It was an incredible sense of freedom. This magical device had met my need to move and get things done and at the same time met kept my baby soothed and secured next to me. He began to sleep for longer periods of time and I started to take care of things at home once again. It was such an empowering feeling to have a happy baby and to feel happy and accomplished myself.
Wearing the wrap at home gave me the confidence to go back to work with this 5 week old baby. Before this, I worried that I would be unable to do my job because I would have to hold my newborn in my arms all day, but not now. Now, I had the baby wrap and it gave me the freedom to live my life with him. In fact, as I write, he is snoozing peacefully in the wrap. I feel like I have stumbled upon the best kept secret for new moms.
Benefits for Baby
In addition to the feeling of freedom it gave me, I found out that babywearing also has lots of benefits for my newborn. I’ve been told to think of the first few months with your newborn as a “fourth trimester.” The baby is still completely dependent on mom and is also being bombarded with the sights, smells and sounds of a new world. It helps to know which types of sensations will calm your fussy baby. The baby wrap swaddles the baby and holds him snugly, with legs tucked up and arms in, just as he was held in the womb. He is kept warm and being near mom’s skin helps to regulate the functions of his body like his temperature and heart rate. The baby wrap also allows the baby to be gently rocked and swayed as you walk; another sensation which he felt in the womb. The sound of my cooking, doing dishes, talking to the dog, and vacuuming did not seem to bother my little one as help slept in the wrap. In fact, he seemed to prefer the noise to silence. Baby wearing isn’t just for newborns. As baby becomes more interested in the world around him, the wrap gives him a safe space from which he can view the world. He moves with mom, learning to use his muscles to keep his head up and turn from side to side. Instead of spending most of his time on his back in a crib, rocker or car seat a baby is carried in a natural position by his mom. When used properly a baby wrap is excellent way to help a growing baby develop his sense of balance and muscle tone.
There are few things to be aware of with wraps. First of all, they don’t replace car seats when a baby is riding in a car. Secondly, you should carefully follow the directions provided by the manufacturer of your baby wrap and of course use common sense. You should not cook anything hot or clean using chemicals while wearing your baby. As far as how the baby should look in your wrap, it’s important to observe the following directions:
- The baby should be worn above your hips, high enough for you to kiss the top of his head. This keeps his nose and mouth visible so you can be sure he has an open airway and can breathe normally. Keeping the baby high up is also much better on your back.
- His neck should not be bent down. You should be able to fit two fingers worth of space between his chin and chest.
- Baby should be in a seated position with his legs tucked so his knees are above his bottom.
Once you’ve got the basics of babywearing down, don’t hesitate to carry that baby at home and when you venture out. My sincere hope is that others can find the freedom that we found through babywearing. Now, I don’t have to worry about how my baby is going to sleep or how I will be able to get things done. My baby has gone from a fussy newborn that could not be put down to a happy napper who can sleep for an extended period. If you are looking for a solution to your fussy baby issues, you should give babywearing a try!