I have a fussy baby. She tenses her leg muscles and clenches her fists, hates to nap, loves to be held, and can scream like nobody's business. Initially, I was having a tough time soothing her without having my own meltdown. Then I heard that babywearing can make your baby the happiest baby on the planet.
Famed babywearing advocate Dr. Sears claims there are a gazillion benefits to this age-old practice. But the one that got my attention was that sling babies cry less.
Sold on the theory, I picked up a Jelly Bean sling and watched the magic begin.
Luckily, the sling came with instructions, for I was a bit confused about how not to smother my newborn in this thing. But I got her in the cradle hold (shown) during a particularly fussy episode and began walking her around the house.
As usual, she wiggled and struggled for a few minutes, but then something magical happened. Without a boob or a pinky finger in her mouth, she was suddenly calm. Her eyes were still open, but she was looking around in awe at all the things I was doing. Her fists opened up and dropped to her sides. She relaxed her back and her legs. Moreover, she stopped crying.
As a result, my muscles relaxed, my stress melted away, and my own frustrated tears stopped.
I figured this was just a one-time thing and there's no way I could get so lucky again, but the next time I tried it, she calmed down so fast that she fell right to sleep and started snoring. She soon felt so heavy that I had to put her down. I slid the sling over my head, placed her in the crib, and lo and behold, a daytime nap was in progress.
Now that I've got the hang of slinging my baby around at home, I'm finding there are all sorts of things I can do while keeping her close to me. For example, I can sweep the floor! She loves the rocking motion, and those dust bunnies I'm always glaring at while breastfeeding on the couch are history. Another bonus: I can tone my thighs and butt! If I drop something or have to reach down, I can't lean forward because my baby might fall out of the sling, so I'm forced to squat.
The most important thing, however, is the difference I see in my daughter. When she's feeding, she squirms less. When she comes off the boob, she fusses less. When she's put in her bouncer for a few minutes, she no longer instantly cries. Of course, there's still crying. She is a baby, after all.
I can't say it enough: I love babywearing! I'm not so hardcore that I'm breastfeeding at the grocery checkout -- I think I need a more sophisticated sling for that -- but I'm trying it out for a few hours a day and it's working. My baby is happy. And when baby's happy, so is mama!
Have you had success with babywearing?