When I was expecting Little Girl I was very intrigued by babywearing. Mothers strolling around with a baby snuggly wrapped on their torso looked so at ease in comparison to their car seat-lugging peers. Three years later, I don’t know how to live without my carrier. Both girls have been calmer and happier while being worn and I have loved having my hands free and being in the presence of calm and happy children. It’s also been a great source of bonding, especially in the early months of each girl’s life. Little did I know that the reported benefits of baby wearing range from baby’s improved health to assisting in the development of social skills.
Which is why you need to know about Babywearing International. They’re a national nonprofit with local chapters that serve to bring parents together to learn about babywearing and try out different carriers. I recently paid a visit to the Birmingham chapter. The atmosphere was laid back and communal in nature—women talking, toddlers prancing through the hallways, parents tending children, demonstrations of lesser-known features of carriers taking place using lifelike baby dolls. It was unbelievably relaxing getting to walk into a meeting of any sort with Little Girl (two and a half now, y’all) and not immediately receive the stink eye or directions to the nearest nursery.
The meetings begin with a brief “Babywearing 101” presentation where an educator (educators are all trained volunteers) brings everyone up to speed on babywearing safety and demonstrates how to use each type of carrier. This is followed by a presentation on a monthly topic (ring slings during my visit). The second hour is the time to try on different kinds of carriers, ask questions, see demonstrations, and access the lending library. For members, the lending library allows you to check out a different carrier each month. A membership only costs $30 a year; I’m not sure you can even buy a carrier for $30 or less, no less twelve different ones. It’s worth noting that a membership is not required to attend the free meetings, just for accessing the library. Some women bring in their own carriers to ask questions, others try on slings before they buy or register for one (also worth noting: carriers are not sold through Babywearing International).
At first I was surprised to hear about the group (ok, you strap your baby on and then what?), but after a visit to the group and the group’s Facebook page, I found there is so much more to it: there’s different kinds of carriers to learn about, how to clean them, ways to nurse in them, and above all a community of parents who value family bonding and raising healthy kids.
The Birmingham chapter has three free monthly meetings, one each in Hoover, Trussville, and Birmingham. Check out their calendar and come to a meeting!
Links for Babywearing International Birmingham: