Monday, January 5, 2009

Babywearing: Not just for mamas

More than a few mothers I've spoken with have shared their heartache regarding husbands who refuse to wear their little ones because of some unknown reason.
I won't pretend I understand the male mind enough to list sure-fire ways to convince the man in your life to wear your little one, but I've compiled a few tips from my own experience and asked a few babywearing dads for some pointers to help entice the man in your life to suit up and wear the best accessory he'll ever sport: his baby.

1. Unleash the logic -- Don't spout off 75 reasons why babywearing is beneficial for both baby and the wearer during a hotly contested argument about babywearing. But instead print a very short article citing the benefits of babywearing. Where to leave this little wealth of information? Perhaps the bathroom since your man will be a captive audience while on the throne. Or maybe send it via e-mail so he can look at it during lunch break. Or place it on the fridge or cookie jar if he often frequents those places. Babywearing International has a small yet insightful list of reasons that is easy to read on its site.

2. Talk bonding -- Sometimes husbands of breastfed children often feel like they cannot do anything to help mom with their new bundle of joy except change baby's diaper. Baby tends to go to mom to nurse for everything from nourishment to comfort to finding warmth. Mark, babywearing daddy to 19-month-old Charlotte and husband to Allison, said wives also can help their husband's understand that babywearing increases bonding between the wearer and the baby.
"I think a lot of fathers always feel like they're less connected to their babies than their wives, and this is a way for them to connect and be closer to their baby," he said.

3. Point out the appeal -- We parents know it's hard to accomplish anything with a baby who constantly wants to be held. Point out to your hubby that he can go about his daily activities --send e-mails, walk the dog, watch the game, play with another child, fix things, make a sandwich -- while wearing baby.
"You can take care of the baby and 'do stuff,'" Mark said. "I probably wouldn't mention cleaning as the 'stuff.'"

4. Proof in pictures -- Sometimes you can play monkey see monkey do with adults just as easily as you can with toddlers. Perhaps, try surfing for one of the threads that show off babywearing daddies. I know my husband has peeked over my shoulder while I was looking at one of these threads and asked if I posted any pictures of him on there. :) It's always nice to feel like you're in good company. And maybe your baby's daddy will be more likely to proudly sport your munchkin if he sees other daddies doing it.
"It does help to see guys wearing kids online, but don't expect to see many doing it in real life," said my hubsand, John, babywearing daddy to 16-month-old G. "You just have to decide it's what you are going to do and stick with it."

5. Purchase a manly carrier -- John doesn't really think sporting my paisley-flowered carriers is particularly masculine, so I've made sure to order all of my mei tais with one side being a gender-neutral or even manly solid color. I was tempted to buy a mei tai with a camo-printed fabric, but he willingly wore the solid khaki canvas mei tai because it wasn't girly at all. It's a good idea to appeal to your man's likes and steer clear of his dislikes. Perhaps, he's a total Star Wars junkie; in that case, it would be really fitting to find a fabric that went with a Stars Wars theme and have it made into a carrier for your hubby.

6. Purchase a simple carrier -- The easier it is to get baby on and off his body, the more likely your husband will be to use a carrier without your assistance. John started off with a mei tai, and he really liked it until Gabe reached 18 pounds. When we needed more support, John bought me an Ergo for Christmas. And he fell in love with it. Because the Ergo buckles rather than ties, John has deemed it easier to use. I cannot pry the Ergo from his hands. It is his carrier of choice, and he wants nothing to do with anything "more complicated" now that he found the Ergo love.
"Buckles and the like make it easier to get the baby on and off," John said. "Plus you don't feel silly like you do when you are wearing a mei tai apron style while dragging 4 feet of straps behind you as you put the baby on in the parking lot while a woman is looking at you strangely ... not that I have experience or anything."
Also, for what it's worth, John tried the Pikkolo and deemed that a "nice" carrier, too. He, however, is very picky, and did not really like any of the other ones. It helps that both the Ergo and Pikkolo come in manly solid colors and manly materials like canvas. Dan, babywearing daddy to 2-year-old Martha and newborn Ruth and husband to Colleen, had only one suggestion when it comes to purchasing a carrier for a husband.
"Buy an Ergo," Dan said.

7. Boost his ego -- Tell him how sexy you think he is when he's wearing your little one. Compliment his every effort to babywear and follow up his attempts with really steamy compliments. If he knows you think it's sexy when he wears the baby, you might have a hard time getting him to let you have a turn carrying your baby. Of course, you should follow up your compliments with some sort of proof that you really meant your compliments. John thinks this idea is one of the grandest on the list. He, however, cautioned wives to tell the truth regarding whether their husband looks silly in, say, a pink flower-covered carrier while wearing baby in public.
"Your husband will be watching to make sure no one is looking at him strangely while wearing the baby," John said, "so be honest with how he looks as well."

8. Enter the confessional -- Admit that at first babywearing seams a little hard. Remember how overwhelming it is to try and learn how to properly use a carrier WHILE dealing with the fear that you might drop your baby while trying to get baby into a carrier. Though it's unlikely that you or your hubby would ever would drop your baby, it's still a very real fear for many people. And remember that your husband probably does not spend as much time with your little one, so he may not be as comfortable giving your baby basic care let alone doing something like wearing her. We all have fears, and sometimes those fears restrain us from doing the things we really would like to do. Reassure him that it takes a little practice, but remind him you have faith in his ability to safely and comfortably carry your little one. And tell him you'll help him without becoming frustrated, irritated or bossy. After he's comfortable with how the carrier works, encourage him to put baby on alone.
"I was the most proud when I was able to get G on my back without any help," John said. "I felt like a total expert, which is how men like to feel. Encourage your husband toward the same end."

9. Share success stories -- Everyone likes to know something she is about to attempt has worked out well for someone else. Share stories about how babywearing has helped you or helped other fathers you know.
"The proof is in the pudding aka 'thank God the baby stopped screaming and fell asleep' while mom was working out," John said.


  1. where are those photos of John wearing Gabe? ;)

  2. Oh, good point! I should post some!! haha!


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