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Babywearing: A Dad’s Experience

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Babywearing: A Dad’s Experience

Introduction

When I found out that my wife was pregnant a few months after our wedding, I was both overjoyed and terrified. I was really looking forward to being a father, but at the same time felt apprehensive about how much I could really contribute as the working parent. I knew that I had to do my fair share of parenting since we did not have any relatives nearby to help out. More importantly, I wanted to find a better way to bond with my baby from the beginning besides helping out with diaper changing and midnight feeding.

It wasn’t until the third trimester of the pregnancy that I stumbled across the answer in “The Baby Book” by William and Martha Sears. Babywearing, as Sears called it, is something that was familiar to me growing up in Indonesia. There, babies are traditionally carried by their mothers (or other female caretakers) in a piece of cloth (called “selendang”) for most of their first year and beyond. However, Sears contended that babywearing is also a great way for fathers to bond with their babies. Although I was not entirely convinced, I decided it wouldn’t hurt to try. I bought my first baby carrier (a padded ring sling) from Ebay, and a month later our son Samuel was born.

My First Babywearing Experience

Typical for first-time parents, our first days with Samuel were challenging. He was the perfect little angel, as long as he was held close to our bodies. We barely slept the first night at the hospital, as he did not want to be put down at all. The next night, I volunteered to take care of the baby so my wife could get some sleep. After holding him for a few hours and having little luck putting him to sleep, I decided to try the sling. It took me a while to figure it out in my sleep-deprived state, but as soon as I got him settled in it properly, he instantly quieted down and fell asleep! I was amazed. I spent the rest of the night watching him sleep in peace attached to me, while my wife got her much-needed rest next to us. That night, I became a converted babywearer.

Babywearing promotes bonding

As a first-time father, I was worried about feeling left out during the early months of Samuel’s life due to the natural attachment between him and his mother. Babywearing helped me overcome that fear by allowing me to bond with him while caring for him at the same time. By wearing him any chance I had, I was able to soothe him during fussy times and put him to sleep without resorting to mommy’s breasts. Watching him sleep while snuggled close to my body became my new favorite activity. Babywearing also enhanced my relationship with my wife, because she knew she could entrust me with the baby on my own. It helped me feel “empowered” as a dad.

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