Building a Community With Babywearing
It's not unusual to find me swaying slowly in the grocery store while browsing different brands of crackers. Or bouncing slightly through the produce aisle. Or humming softly. Sometimes I just say “shhhhh” and rock my body back and forth. I know you do this too, so you're probably used to the confused glances and sideways stares... that melt into grins and coos as they see your baby falling sweetly asleep in your baby carrier.
When my daughter Maya was very young, we attended a local baby group every week. That group was our sanity each week. A chance to get dressed and out of the house, even though no one had slept the night before... and to sit in a room with people who also did not sleep the night before. Often we would bring the Boba carrier and she would fall asleep while we chatted. We made some great friends that way! But just after Maya turned one, the group was shut down due to lack of funding.
Not long after, I started up a local babywearing group on Facebook. At first, it was just me and my husband and a couple of friends of ours. Then suddenly it began to grow. After chatting online, a few of us began meeting at different houses or coffee shops. We would talk about our carriers, our babies and our lives. It became a safe place to ask questions about baby sleep (or lack thereof!), breastfeeding, co-sleeping and more. We reached out to other parents and told them about how awesome it was to carry your baby and how to do it safely.
Now our group has over 500 members! We offer a free lending library of baby carriers and all of us love doing tutorials, and showing new techniques and ideas. Local shops have begun sending people directly to our group when they buy a baby carrier. We have meet-ups almost every week and I'm happy to say that most of them are outside. It isn't unusual for a few dozen people to show up, with babies and older kids and extended family. I love watching everyone helping each other out, replacing the fallen hat from the baby on your back, or jumping in puddles with the big kids. It is a community of like-minded parents, and it is easy to trust and feel connected to someone who values something you do: keeping your baby close and experiencing “freedom together”.
I realize that not everyone has a babywearing group available to them. Happily, the online community is vibrant and active! Facebook alone has hundreds of babywearing groups, including everything from carrier-specific groups, to information groups, to buying/selling groups. Instagram is also a popular babywearing meeting place where you can post pictures from your phone (don't forget to follow Boba!)
But whether you are meeting in person or online, it's about more than babywearing. It's more than coffee at the park with two hands free to zip your toddler's coat. We've built a community around something as foundational as carrying your baby. All parents want to keep their baby close, and babywearing does that. What's more, it gives you the ability to look outward and to see the good intentions of the parents around you. It gives you a scrap of sanity in the midst of teething, sleepless nights. It gives you cuddles from a toddler who wants to be held but not held back. I see all of that when I see someone wearing her child. And I think she sees it in me, too.
So if you see me swaying in the grocery store, please know you're invited to sway with me. And could you please pass that box of crackers?