Remember when you were just starting out and you saw someone do an amazing wrap job for the first time. Or remember the first time you watched a back carrying video and someone supermanned their child onto their back with the greatest of ease. You were in AWE.
That is you now. You may have been carrying for a few months, or a few years. You may be an enabler, a churner, a regular on the bst’s. You may be on your second, fourth or ninth child (kudos). You may now inspire awe from the parent who has never carried before with your amazing wrap jobs, fancy finishes or back carries.
But you also have a huge responsibility that goes with that amazing skill you’ve learnt – carrying your baby. As said in Spiderman, ‘with great power comes great responsibility’, and this applies very much to babywearing.
Now for story time. Just a couple of days ago, I was ‘spotted’ by a local babywearing mum in my town. I had picked my toddler up from nursery and the only carrier I had with me at the time was a small baby size buckles. She was still within the weight limit so there was no real issue, but I was in a hurry, she was exhausted and wanting a nap so I threw her up on my back and off we went. It was an embarrassingly bad carry. Probably not unsafe, but she wasn’t knee to knee, the panel wasn’t high enough, and I couldn’t reach the hood so when she fell asleep almost instantly she was flopping about all over the place. Fortunately she’s old enough and robust enough for me to know this and evaluate the minor short term risks and just leave her up for the 10 minute walk home. However, I was still MORTIFIED that someone had seen my awful back carry. Particularly another babywearing mum.
I thought about this again later in the day and I realised I should have been mortified for different reasons. I should be embarrassed because my attempt at babywearing that day (if you can call it that) may have been seen by someone who didn’t know better, didn’t know that babies should be high and tight in any carrier, that their head should be supported and their airways clear. To the average, non babywearing parent, it might have seemed quite safe. Although it wasn’t really, and definitely didn’t follow TICKS.
I am an experienced babywearer, I’ve carried two children from birth, I’ve trained as a consultant, and I did not inspire awe with that back carry. Instead, what I did was potentially dangerous, and so this is my plea to all of the other experienced babywearers out there. The next time you carry your baby; attempt a back carry; show a friend; post a photo in a group; remember to lead by example. Do I think about the safety of my child every time I wrap? Yes, but probably not as much as I should do. Definitely not as much as I think of the safety of another child when at a meet or doing a consultation.
Its hard, when we’re experienced and good at something, to think about things the way we did when we were learning. Sometimes its good to stand back and rethink things, to wrap in front of a mirror, to see what the inexperienced bystander might see. Because that impression you give is SO important. We want lots of babies to be carried, the benefits are fantastic as we all know, and so we need to spread the message that it is that amazing. But also that it is safe too.
Take a look again at the TICKS guidelines, especially if carrying a small baby or starting out with back carries. Whether you’ve been carrying for only a short while, or for the best part of ten years we all need a reminder now and then. Sometimes we forget things, sometimes we’re too busy (like I was) to stop and think about whether what we’re doing is the safest possible option. Sometimes it’s just important to do an amazing (and safe) wrap job so you can get all the likes on instagram, and feel proud when ‘spotted’ out in town. Remember to inspire awe.