17 December, 2012

Would Parents Approve of Babywearing?

OPINION
Is it okay for a nanny to "wear" her charge without first seeking permission from the parents? For all of the parents reading, how would you feel about your care giver wearing your child without consulting you first?

I was first introduced to babywearing while working with my previous family. MB owned a few different types of carriers and her little one LOVED being worn. It wasn't long before I began seeing all of the wonderful benefits and started investing in my own stash of beloved carriers.

Present day, I am employed with a family caring for a thirteen-month-old, and have been wearing him since he was seven months. The parents aren't necessarily "baby wearers", although they do own a Baby Bjorn, and until the little one outgrew it, they would wear him on occasion. I was told I was welcome to use the carrier as well, but it was never any kind of expectation. Since the Baby Bjorn is a "crotch dangler" (which is not only bad for any child's hip and spinal development, but really uncomfortable as well) I never wore him in it myself, but also never spoke up or questioned the parents judgement. It never really occurred to me to ask the parents beforehand if I could use my personal carriers instead though, since babywearing has been such a normal thing for me the past few years. I in no way have tried to keep it from the parents, and their older child has seen me wear the toddler many times.

A friend recently brought up the question, "How does your MB and DB feel about babywearing?", and it occurred to me that I have never really had a conversation with them. Again, not for any malicious reason on my part... it just honestly never occurred to me to ask. The family is really easy going, and overall give me free range to care for their children in whatever way I believe works best during the day. It is also important to point out, I am a very knowledgeable wearer, and would never put a child in a carrier I wasn't completely comfortable using.

Should I have some kind of conversation with the family in the near future just to ensure they are okay with me wearing their little one? Did I make a poor decision by choosing to wear my charge without permission? Or am I over-reacting and feeling unnecessarily guilty for not having some kind of conversation beforehand? - Anonymous

36 comments:

VA nanny said...

The only thing I think you should have mentioned to them is that you have been using your own carrier. I know that if I had my own car seat or something, I would ask my MB before using it with my charge.
You could just mention casually that you have a carrier from your last job that you find very comfortable and your charge seems to like it, so would they mind you using it during your working hours. Offer to demonstrate it for them.

As for the part about if you should ask them if you can wear their baby, I don't see why that's necessary. They wore the child in the carrier occasionally, and they gave you the option of using it, so they clearly don't have an issue with using one. The only thing I could potentially see as an issue is if you're wearing the child all the time and not giving him the opportunity to play or explore on his own. Or if you're having him nap in the carrier and his parents want him napping somewhere else.

I really don't get why people make "baby wearing" into such a THING. What exactly qualifies someone as a baby wearer? Carrying children in a sling or carrier has been around basically FOREVER, but only recently did people become "baby wearers". You either are one, or you're not, and it's become some polarizing issue, like co-sleeping. I've had some of my more judgy attachment parenting friends ask me if I plan to "wear" my charge. I answer that we own a sling and a carrier, and we use them when we feel like it. Sometimes my LO likes being in the stroller because he can see the world better. When he was little and he was fussy he slept nicely in the sling. Sometimes he prefers the Ergo when we're out and about. Sometimes when it's hot if I try to use the Ergo, we both end up dripping with sweat. That obviously means that I am not a baby wearer. I don't get it.

MissMannah said...

I personally think your charge is WAY too old to be "worn" and would go so far as to say when you started (at 7 months) he was too old. Excessive wearing hinders a child's motor development because he is not down on the floor practicing skills like crawling and walking. He is getting no exercise because he is essentially stuck.

That being said, I absolutely agree with baby-wearing in the first few months. I would never do it without asking permission from my bosses though because they may not agree with it.

NannyBrandie said...

This is an interesting post, since it seems kinda ridiculous to me to get the parents permission. Would you ask permission to use a stroller?
The first commenter I agree with 100%. Children shouldn't be worn 24/7 but it helps with bonding between the child and the parents/caretaker. I am not a fan of a baby bjorn past the age of 5 months, and prefer the moby wrap and the ergo. The ergo is great for kids up to the age of two, using it on your back. Personally when they are about 17-18 months I encourage walking as much as possible, but unless they are ill, then I'd use an ergo or a stroller.

Wearing my back said...

I am just wondering about back injuries and the workers comp insurance issues that are related. For this reason alone, I would want something in writing that acknowledges a parent's knowledge that baby wearing is a daily expectation. Few parents provide health insurance and workers comp for their nannies. Back injuries are a huge factor for child care providers and as a veteran with a back injury received on the job, I'm curious about others experiences and sensitivity to this issue.

My opinion is that yes, you should have this conversation and written understanding if possible.

Bethany said...

I don't think this is something to worry much over. A casual mention is really all that is needed.

However, in the future when you interview with a family I think you should bring it up baby wearing and find out their feelings on it.

How often are you wearing your charge?
I understand the benefits of baby wearing, but I also believe it's important for children to be given the space to explore and develop skills on their own. Even when they are little. In my opinion your charge should be spending very little time during the day being worn by you and have ample time on the floor

Ann O'Neemus said...

Baby 'wearing' can be a great thing but put that TODDLER on the floor for pity's sake.

beenanny said...

I also babywear my various charges. The parents know and encourage it and I only do it when the child needs to be held. The kids are encouraged to walk and play on their own but when they're fussy or sick or tired I sling them up.

I've used a baby k'tan, ergo, ring slings, pouches and mei tai. One family had a wrap that they offered me, but I'm not used to using one and declined because I didn't want to risk anything with the babies

Sarah said...

Hmmmm, I wonder what you all would say if you saw me wearing my 3 year old! He walked at 10 months, so I don't see that it hindered his motor development any, nor have I seen any research indicating that possibility. There IS research showing that babywearing leads to greater independence and confidence.

I would say to check with your MB about using your own carriers, but other than that, vive la babywearing!

katydid said...

What is with this blog lately we've jumped into the mommy wars.

Sleep training v not sleep training
Baby wearing v not wearing
Homebirth v not home birth

What's next circumcision and breastfeeding?

I doubt it's a big deal and not something you need to bring up with them.

I'd say it's only a problem if you are wearing him as a means of controlling him so as not to have to deal with 2 busy toddlers.

katydid said...

@ Sarah, I wouldn't give 3 flying monkeys if I saw you wearing your 3 year old.

Unless you carry him about on top of your head.

Glad it seems to be working for you doesn't mean it will work for everyone else or that you are superior to them.

wedenesday said...

My charge HATES to be worn. combination of acid reflux and wanting to explore. Unless we go to the park. He even loves the sight Bjorn but if I put it on and don't immediately go outside he'll start to cry. He hated the Moby wrap, too. He hurt so had he'd try to stand up in it.

his mom was very impressed that I was willing to wear her baby. It has brought us all closer. I'm not very keen on wearing a baby all the time. I would find wearing a toddler, that can very well walk for themselves, very unnecessary. let them explore and be their own person. they aren't an extension to you.

After carrying a baby for 9 months, then carrying them some more, breastfeeding a baby for however long, wouldn't you welcome getting your body back to yourself? Not having to always share it with someone else?

Sarah said...

@katydid, I clearly wasn't responding to you, as you had no posts above mine. I was responding mostly to MissMannah and Ann, who thought the child in question was too old to be worn. Can I presume that these ladies never use a stroller after their charges are old enough to walk?

Nor was I attempting to sound "superior;" I was disputing a claim that babywearing hinders development. Not only was that not the case for my children, but the research does not support it either.

@Wednesday, I'm surprised by your experience - part of the reason that my family got into babywearing was that my son had reflux, and we found that the only time he WAS comfortable was being worn! I would point out that there are times even after a child CAN walk for themselves that it is unsafe or inappropriate. Again, do you pack the stroller away immediately after the baby's first steps? No. Wearing is just another option for some of us.

MissMannah said...

Sarah, the typical assumption when the term "babywearing" is used is that the baby is being carried for long periods of the day. That is not good for the child's development because he is not getting exercise. I am guessing (since you referenced a stroller) that you are using a carrier for those circumstances where it would not be beneficial for your son to walk (ie: crowded shopping mall). If that's what you're doing, by all means continue as long as he fits in it.

You'll note I specifically said in my post EXCESSIVE babywearing.

Megan said...

OP here! First off, I wanted to say thank you to everyone who left advice and suggestions. I really appreciate it, and have read all of your thoughts. Secondly, I have to agree with katydid about the mommy wars. No where in my post did I ask for opinions on babywearing vs. putting the kid down. I simply asked if it was necessary to have some kind of conversation with the parents before wearing the child. It is surprising to me how many people felt the need to throw in things like, "your charge is WAY old to be worn" and "put that TODDLER on the floor for pity's sake". Really?

Also, I wanted to further clarify on my post, since so many of you are convinced I am wearing my charge twelve hours a day. MissMannah is VERY incorrect in saying "the typical assumption when the term babywearing is used is that the baby is being carried for long periods of the day", and she is also very wrong in saying this is not good for the child's development. Extremely incorrect. I know a ton of mothers, grandparents, and care givers that wear their children. In addition, I am a member on TheBabyWearer, where I have met literally hundreds of parents who consider themselves "babywearers". None of these people wear their children for excessive periods during the day, unless their children are sick or ill. They wear their children when comfort is needed, or in place of a stroller. To be a "babywearer" does not mean you have a child tied to you twenty four hours a day...contrary to what posters here seem to believe. There is also no evidence to suggest babywearing hinders a child's development. As a matter of fact, there is a ton of evidence suggesting the exact opposite...that babywearing is extremely beneficial (and not just for newborns!!) for children. Babies who are carried spend more time in a state of quiet alertness, since they aren't busy fussy or crying to be held, which is the state babies learn in best. Many parents find that their children who were worn as babies and toddlers are able develop communcation skills sooner, since they are constantly hearing their parent/care giver speak. There is also no evidence to suggest babywearing delays crawling/walking, or any other developmental milestones.

It is possible I wasn't clear in my post, and led everyone to believe that I wear my charge constantly, and he gets no time to be down on the floor and play. It is also possible may of you have an misconception of what babywearing is, and I have NEVER met anyone who wears their child all the time, and doesn't provide lots of floor time as well.

Megan (OP) said...

@MissMannah - I don't feel any need to have a babywearing arguement on this post, but can not say how wrong you are. Where is the scientific evidence to back these claims up? Where are the parents/care givers who have experienced developmental delays due to babywearing? I certainly haven't been able to find any of these in my research.

Megan (OP) said...

@NannyBrandie - That is actually one of the reasons why I started wearing my charges. Although bonds do develop over time, my charge was very wary of other people when I came into the picture at seven months, and I deeply feel babywearing helped us create a solid bond.

Megan (OP) said...

@Sarah - I really appreciate your advice, and feel this is probably what I will end up doing. I KNOW the parents are not going to have any issue, but do want to check in.

Megan (OP) said...

@wedenesday - I do not have any children of my own, so I can not answer your final question. However, I can say, I fully intend to wear my own children some day. They won't always be old enough to carry around. No one ever regretted holding their child too much.

Sarah said...

I was flabbergasted that some believe the only definition of babywearing is doing it for the entire day - yes, I wore my son for very long lengths of time when he was younger, but he had colic & acid reflux and being worn made him comfortable. Now that he is older, I wear him much less. Similarly, my daughter never had reflux so our babywearing relationship is different, but I would consider it any less "babywearing" because it is less frequent!

@Megan, the comments you quoted we're the exact comments I was reacting to in my first response. They felt judgmental and inflammatory.

Megan (OP) said...

@Sarah - "Similarly, my daughter never had reflux so our babywearing relationship is different, but I would consider it any less "babywearing" because it is less frequent!" Absolutely! It's not about anything other than responding to the needs of the child. When my charge is upset and wants some cuddle time, I spare my arms and use my carriers. They are merely tools to aid in giving my charge what he needs throughout the day. Again I'll say, no one ever regretted holding their child too much, and I promise he is not going to be immobile at ten-years-old because I wear him a couple times a day.

oceanblue said...

Megan and Sarah I saw no one attacking you. I saw several people give their opinions on the topic.
I see the two of you attacking people or "educating" them as you would probably call it.
You responses have been nothing but condescending and full of superiority.
I will go a step further and say the intention of this post was never to seek advice about telling your bosses you "wear their baby", but about you wanting to debate baby wearing. Actions speak louder than words and your actions have been nothing but combative. For the record I have nothing against baby wearing. I know it has it's benefits. I also know it doesn't work for every baby or every situation. I also understand why those who do not support baby wearing excessive or otherwise feel the way they do.

oceanblue said...

You accuse others of being inflammatory and judgmental , yet you imply that those who don't wear are not responding to the child's needs.
FFS!
This place is ridiculous. Time for a ISYN break.

Ann O'Neemus said...

Sorry everyone, if my response sounded argumentative. I just used all capitals to stress the word 'toddler'. I didn't mean to shout :)

I must have misunderstood the original post. Like Miss Mannah, I did get the impression the little one was being 'worn' a lot.

Whatever works for the individual child is great.

I'm all for holding, cuddling and bonding but I do have a pet peeve about older babies and toddlers confined in carriers or strollers when they don't need to be.
One of the moms I worked for always carried the child. I don't think there is anything wrong with holding hands and walking together.

Sarah said...

@oceanblue, I fail to see how any of my comments were condescending, full of superiority, or combative. I responded to OP's post to answer her original question, and answered some comments with my own experience. I do understand that every child is different and not everything that works for us works for everyone.

@Ann, thank you for clarifying your intent. I, too, take issue when I see some older children confined to a stroller inappropriately.

Megan (OP) said...

@Ann O'Neemus - This whole post has gotten out of hand. I misunderstood your comment as well. I honestly could care less if other nannies/parents wore their children or not, and was not in any way trying to start a debate. It just really got under my skin to hear a few people accuse me of hindering my charges development, which that just doesn't have any evidence to back it up.

You are correct in saying I was not clear about the amount of time I use the carriers each day. I left that information in a comment below, but not until the anti-babywearing comments had already began.

Megan (OP) said...

@oceanblue - Regardless what you believe, this post was only written to get some advice on the issue at hand. I deeply appreciate ALL of the comments, and I also appreciate all of the opinions. Several posters shared their opinion, stating I should not wear my charge for long periods, and I did not feel affronted by those comments. What I feel affronted by is attacks claiming I am damaging my charges ability to develop by babywearing.

Bethany said...

Op, my intention was not to attack you.
The only way I could see the parents being upset with you is if you were wearing him excessively. I share nanny Ann's views on confining kids or carrying them when they don't need to be.

Megan (OP) said...

@Bethany - I appreciate your clarification, and will happily admit I am in the wrong for attacking several people before asking for further clarification. I, personally, do not believe it is the best practice to carry children when they do not need to be either, and can understand where you were coming from. I should have made it clear in my original post that I am not wearing him excessively. :-)

Megan (OP) said...

@Bethany - Also, your post was not one that I felt affronted by earlier. You simply asked how long I was wearing my charge.

MissMannah said...

If you weren't wearing your charge frequently, you wouldn't have felt the need to ask this question to begin with. If you were only wearing him at appropriate times, such as when you would normally use a stroller, you would feel fine about it.

I am adamantly against restricting movement in children. Evidently you are not. Why so defensive?

justthenanny said...

I have not read the previous comments, just the original post. I say continue the baby wearing (if it helps you and baby), but I would tell the parents about using your own carriers. My MB encouraged me to baby wear and showed me how to use the 2 she had. I began wearing my charge at the grocery store, on walks at a local forest, and just whenever I needed to do something but baby needed held. My older charge would put her baby in her carrier too-so cute! Baby is 12 months now so I do not wear the baby as often. Hope it works out!

nycmom said...

VA Nanny, I totally agree!

Why on earth is "babywearing" being made into something more than it is -- simply another method of transporting your young child/charge that is often comfortable for both parties. It is not new. It is not unique to the US. It is not unique to this time period.

The parents own a carrier, as does virtually every parent I know. Clearly they are not in the odd minority who find this age-old practice unacceptable.

Unless a parent or caregiver were wearing a child for extended periods of time, hindering the opportunity to let them physically explore their bodies and surroundings (which is really the only extreme the many posters above were raising), I can't imagine any normal parent having an issue with this.

Yes, you are overreacting and feeling unnecessarily guilty because you clearly have doubts about some aspect of your behavior in the process of "babywearing." The vast majority of parents and nannies use a sling/carrier as simply an alternative to the stroller and another means of transportation or soothing. It is just not a big deal unless you are doing something extreme or unusual.

Megan (OP) said...

Thanks so much for the advice everyone. Again, just to be clear, my charge is not being worn for long periods during the day. As a matter of fact, I have yet to wear him at all this week. I was only feeling guilty because I had never approached the parents on the topic, and thought perhaps I should at least show them my carriers, and let them know I am using them. Like a previous poster mentioned, if you had your own car seat, you would want to let your MB and DB know. I did not mean to get into a babywearing debate, and apologize if any of my comments came off to harshly.

Nanny E said...

Okay, maybe I'm not just in with what's cool now, but why does carrying a child even have the term "babywearing"? Why are there people that call themselves babywearers? Isn't anyone who holds a baby technically a babywearer? Why is there a sub group devoted to this? To me, that's like telling everyone I'm a babyrocker, because I rock children to sleep. I guess I'm just having a hard time wrapping my mind around the whole concept. Is there something that distinguishes a babywearer from a person that just uses a sling a lot? I'm seriously asking here.

MissMannah said...

Nanny E, I don't claim to be any kind of expert but from what I've read in blogs and whatever, babywearing is a new trend. Like other have said, babies have been "worn" in carriers since the dawn of time but now it is some attachment parenting trend to wear the baby all day. This is what I immediately think of when I hear the term "babywearing" but evidently I am alone in this because some have gotten really defensive about it.

N is for Nanny said...

I would mention it to the family. They might like to know about their child's day and things that are working for you that they might also want to try. I also have worked with families who prefer to use - or avoid - specific carriers, even ones that may have rave reviews from parents and professionals. Like PP said above, if I was using my own carseat/stroller I would ask if the parents were okay with that and offer to let them inspect the equipment. Part of is out of respect for them, but also out of an awareness of my own liability.

Chances are that they will not mind and will appreciate your thinking about both their child's happiness and also their (the parents') comfort.