Baby Wearing

Heidi DonnellyBy Heidi Donnelly, Certified Baby Wearing Instructor

Babywearing changed my life. In fact, it easily makes the top three things in my life that have had the greatest impact. Just under getting married and having children.

Yes, I’m that passionate about wearing my babies and I think every baby should be worn. In fact, every baby expects to be that close to another person and every baby needs to be that close to another loving person.

My name is Heidi and I am so excited to share the art, science and practice of babywearing with you that I could burst. Thank you so much to Margaret and her staff at Mothers’ Haven for their willingness to share their space and team up with me to share this passion with you.

I remember the moment I discovered babywearing. It was over eight years ago when my first baby girl (I have three girls now, and a boy) was eight days old. There was another mom at the local Le Leche League meeting and she had a Maya Wrap ring sling. I was absolutely sold on the idea from the moment I spotted that crazy tool. That week I went out and bought one of my very own.

But darnit if I couldn’t figure that thing out! And not for lack of trying. I watched the instructional DVD and read the directions and everything, but it hurt my back and just didn’t feel right. Naturally, I tossed it in the corner and just carried her around and wondered how some people could make it work and I just couldn’t.

Not too much later we learned we were expecting baby #2, who also turned out to be a girl. A local friend of mine caught wind of our coming addition and invited me to hang out at a local park. And she brought an entire basket of baby carriers. Pouches, mei tais, and more mei tais. I was absolutely in love and went home and ordered a mei tai (pronounced MAY-tie).

When it came, I was full of hope that I could make this one work. It was beautiful. Even in my very pregnant state I made my then 2-year-old get in it on my back. It was awesome and I was so looking forward to my new baby to put in it!

After a bunch more research I also managed to make myself a couple pouches. Between those and my new mei tai, I was set for life! Or so I thought.

Our baby girl arrived and as soon as I got her home from the hospital, I tossed her in a pouch. It was the best thing I ever! I remember walking down the stars with this new little bundle all snug as a bug in that pouch and my husband looked up and said, “Wow! You’re such a natural!” I have a photo and I still love that picture today.

The mei tai was also absolutely amazing. I bought one for a friend of mine, too. We both were in love and wore our new babies everywhere. Then, one crazy day, I discovered the woven wrap. After a very brief discussion with my husband (Honey, I’m buying a wrap), I ordered one. Then I spent the next three days waiting for it and watching videos and studying tutorials to figure out how to use it. When I got it and got it washed and dried, I threw my baby in it on my back!!

Suddenly, I was completely un-stoppable. And I had the photographic evidence to prove it! I had mastered pouches, mei tais and now the ever daunting WRAP!!! What was there left for me to conquer?!?!

Then I was pregnant, again. I realized that I did in fact have one carrier left to conquer. I was still a ring-sling-ding-a-ling, as a friend affectionately dubbed my lack of ring sling skills, something I found out was not all that uncommon after all. So I set out to figure it out. I had been attending local babywearing meetings for some time and was studying their take on the ring sling. But I still lacked confidence. And now I was pregnant and had pregnant brain. But I was going to figure it out! I was determined.

The day came when I had my third baby girl. I wowed the hospital staff when they walked into my room to find me walking around with my hours-old baby tied on my front in a wrap. This time I just couldn’t wait until I got home to tie her on. It just felt right to start right from the very, very beginning.

When I went home I eyed that ring sling in the corner taunting me. I looked away, gathering courage and summing my new-found knowledge. I must have faked it out, because when I grabbed it after all those years of intimidation, I could feel its shock and horror. Served it right!

Resistance was futile. I had mastered it! I had in fact mastered it to the point that it became my new favorite carrier! I even went to the local babywearing meeting and the leader told me that when I walked in she thought, “Oh! Heidi had her baby! . . . But that can’t be Heidi! She’s wearing a ring sling!”

Now I was not only un-stoppable, I was invincible. The baby boy we had just a short eighteen months ago has been in a carrier from hours old and is still worn daily in all manner of carriers. I own a stroller, but rarely use it.

All four of my children have directly benefitted physically and emotionally because we use babywearing daily at our house. As a family, we have hiked all over Idaho the last three years with two carriers and all of our kids. So many great benefits, great adventures and great memories and all thanks to the power of babywearing!

In 2010 I had the great privilege of being on the planning committee for the International Babywearing Conference in Rigby, Idaho. I was also recently elected to the Babywearing International (BWI) board of directors. It is an honor and a privilege to be an advocate for the age-old and world-wide practice of babywearing.

I can’t tell you how glad I am that I didn’t give up after my ring sling experience. I’m glad I found support and continued down the road my instincts were leading me. Babywearing changed my life. It’s enriched my life and the lives of my children and my husband—the awesome babywearing daddy of our little family. I would love to share the art with you! Come join us at a FREE BWI meeting where I will share the art and science of babywearing, discuss different carriers, different ways to use them, and help you find the one (or more!) for you or master the what you have.

Bring your questions. Bring your carriers. Bring your babies!