[Many thanks to Wraps, Slings, and Harmony for sharing this post during Black Babywearing Week!]
There are many moments where I've heard "oh you'll have to put him down soon!" "He's getting too big!” "He doesn't need that."
I'm sure people mean well. I'm also sure they think they're doing me a favor because he has to "grow up sooner or later." However, last time I checked, babies/toddlers don't keep. How many times have we been out of touch with a friend or family member and by the time we get back together that baby is a teen, or a college student? The fact is this is a short time frame and there is no magic that will keep him physically my baby forever. Wearing him allows him to have a safe space to enjoy the world and at the same time escape from it if it gets too overwhelming. It also gives me a way to keep him safe in large crowds or on busy streets without anxiety or repeating over and over "stay with me/don't do that" etc. The traditions of my ancestors allows us both to reconnect when it's been a particularly trying day (cuz toddler emotions are like unstable rollercoasters).
Wearing isn't something I do to keep him a baby. It's what I do to help him grow into an emotionally stable and intuned human being.
This Black Babywearing Week has reminded me of all the benefits of wearing- community, bonding, teaching, learning, growing. When I've had to walk to places and the toddler legs couldn't keep up- there's a carrier for that. When I had to use the Marta several times with crowds, I didn't worry about holding onto my kid because he was safely and compactly with me on my back. When I wanted to help a fellow caregiver find different wearing options and also help them tweak how to use their existing carrier, BBR wanted to wreck the world, so up he went. Contained so I could focus on the family, and content because he had mommy's attention and got to be a part of the moment. Right now he wanted to sleep, his dad is in a conference and he's missing him. He took his favorite wrap and used it as a blanket. He quickly drifted off and now I can relax and ruminate on why wearing is so important to me. It's more than a carrier, it's a way a life. It doesn't have to be fancy or expensive, or brand new. It just has to be safe and secure and useful for as long as you and your little choose to use it.
Please don't ever think there's a time frame on the usefulness or necessity of wearing. Remember babies/toddlers don't stay little long. Carry them while you can.
Image of a sleeping Afro-Latino toddler using a natty waves wrap as his blanket.