Strengthening the Bond with My Daughter through Babywearing

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My daughter was born 18 years after my son. Just one week before he would attend his senior prom, to be exact. Becoming pregnant with my second child, nearly two decades after my first, was quite the shock. Here we were just a few months away from seeing my firstborn off to college and becoming “empty nesters.” In the months leading up to my son moving out of state for school, I experienced a range of emotions. Some days I was really sad and others, I was excitedly creating Pinterest boards with my future world travels. Somehow, grasping the reality of becoming a mom all over again left me excited yet conflicted. How would I navigate motherhood for a second time, so many years later?

Midway through my pregnancy, I’d read a blog about some of the benefits of babywearing that really resonated with me. With my husband being from Senegal, West Africa, we’d spent a few summers there, and watching the strong Senegalese women wearing their babies from birth while socializing, working, and tending to other children was fascinating to me. Their babies looked happy, safe, and strong! I knew that I wanted this bond with my daughter and wanted to integrate babywearing into our journey. It was an experience that I’d missed out on with my firstborn, and I was excited to try it!

We were gifted our first LÍLLÉbaby baby carrier for our baby shower. To this day, I still say this was the best gift we could’ve received.

Navigating Our Way through the 4th Trimester & Beyond
We owned all the fancy baby equipment- swings, rockers, bassinets that swayed, swaddles to help aid better sleep, but nothing beat the rhythmic motions of holding my baby girl close to me, heart to heart.

Skin-to-skin contact was big for me, and we did LOTS of it in our carrier. The benefits of skin-to-skin contact during the fourth trimester are enormous for both mama and baby. Body temperature regulation, an increase in oxytocin levels (the happy hormone!), and bonding, just to name a few. This was also a huge bonus for my husband in bonding with our little girl.

As she became stronger and more aware of her physical abilities and surroundings, I found that moving her around my body in different positions gave her just what was needed to satisfy her curiosity, give her a front-row seat to the world, and remain confident because mommy was right there.

Nursing in the Carrier Changed Our Life!
Our breastfeeding journey started off rough. By week 2, I was in tears! My toes would curl in agony every time my baby would cry to be fed. We couldn’t get her to latch correctly, and by this time, she was cluster feeding. Exhausted and in pain, I was ready to throw in the towel. Thankfully, I received help from an excellent certified lactation consultant, who I think of as my fairy milk mother, and we were able to continue breastfeeding for an extended time. There’s a learning curve to both breastfeeding and babywearing, but once we got the hang of both and combined the two, this was a total game-changer for us!

Wearing her close to me, I was able to tend to her cues immediately, plus this helped with my milk “let down.” Nursing the baby no longer left me confined to my couch with a pillow for 30 minutes. I could feed her handsfree around while working from home, walking around the mall, or out on the hiking trails. This was such a huge part of our journey, and we successfully did this until she was nearly 3 years old.

Babywearing Gave Me the Ability to Be Hands-Free
We moved my son into his college dorm when she was 4 months old, and I wore her in my favorite emerald green soft structured carrier throughout the entire tire experience. Everyone marveled at the mom who was schlepping boxes and suitcases and participating in NSO week with an infant in tow! Being able to share unforgettable moments like this with both of my children melts my heart.

Precious Bonding Moments That Are Simply Indescribable
I remember hearing so many misconceptions about babywearing, and none of it proved to be true. There’s no such thing as spoiling a baby by holding them too much. But we as parents can give our babies the security of knowing that their needs are being met, and we feel confident in holding our little ones close.

Together we’ve hiked National Parks, traveled around the country, and internationally all while babywearing. There is a closeness that my daughter and I share that is unlike no other. She is now a fearless, confident, strong, and independent 4-year-old. To this day, when I pick her up, she pulls her legs into the most perfect “M” shape as if she’s being worn in a carrier. Occasionally we still babywear when she asks for it. This will forever be our special bonding experience.