What do you do with a crying baby early in the morning?

We had a rough night on Tuesday night. Constant wailing and gnashing of, well, gums does not good sleep a parent beget. I think she was just awake and bored mostly – she wasn’t eating much and anything that involved us considering sleep resulted in a serious temper tantrum. Fred’s comment in the morning before he staggered into work was that he felt like he’d been run over by a truck.
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All through the next day, she was a breeze to look after – she uncomplainingly attended the NCT group coffee, let herself be dragged to the registry office and later meet another friend for coffee; all relatively calmly.

Fast forward to the evening just before dinner and the screaming abdabs ensued. She had just been fed so that wasn’t it; she’d brought up lots of wind; I changed her nappy – a five minute respite before kicking off again; she didn’t want to just be held; and she didn’t seem to be in actual pain. And yet still she screamed!

My mother then had a suggestion… Try putting her in her sling.

So I tried that.

Screaming immediately ceased and asleep she fell. Miraculous.

What my mother had noticed was that earlier in the day, however bad the temper tantrum just before leaving the house that once out of the house she was calm and fell asleep. The common factor – being popped in the sling!

We have different theories on why the sling works – I think it’s being bundled up tight close to my body, my mother thinks it’s the darkness from the sling over her head. Whichever is true – it worked!

“Babywearing”, as carrying a baby in a sling has been termed within the Attachment Parenting school of thought, has become a bit of a crusade for some (much like breastfeeding). The benefits they expect from babywearing include:

  • A deeper maternal bond, caused by the increased oxytocin produced as a result of the closeness of the baby
  • A more secure attachment between parent and child, allowing the child to spend more time learning (rather than fussing about whether they have been deserted)
  • Earlier “humanisation” – they become more familiar with human customs and practices earlier as they see more of them while being carried
  • Less crying – babies are believed to be less likely to cry if held
  • Reduced risk of positional plagiocephaly (or flat head syndrome) caused by babies lying in the same position for an extended period.
  • As a result of being associated with Attachment Parenting and a rather polarised position between the babywearers and buggy brigade, I get the impression that the buggy brigade view slings and babywearing as a rather hippy thing to do. I may just be paranoid, but think you get more double takes from people when you have a baby in a sling.

    I don’t wear a sling because I have high held beliefs about the benefits of babywearing and wanting those for my daughter – I wear a sling because it was more practical for me:

  • It was easier to buy a sling quickly than a buggy (necessary in our disorganised case!)
  • It is easier to carry her around in a sling than cart a buggy around everywhere (especially given we have a first floor flat);
  • I don’t have to worry about issues navigating steps on the tube or getting a space in the buggy park on a bus;
  • I can get household chores done or eat with two hands while holding her if she is fussing;
  • Most importantly, she stops crying when put in a sling!
  • But I do see the benefits of the buggy as well – it’s not always convenient to constantly carry your child, for instance, eating is easier without one strapped to you; and if you want to boogie on the dance floor at a wedding – this is easier sans baby. And we have finally ordered one (the Uppababy Cruz for anyone tracking the buggy selection process). But interestingly have decided to try something a bit more controversial because we have the sling, we have not bought the carrycot for it and instead are going to rely on our car seat plugging into the buggy via adaptors. It just seemed a bit crazy to spend £135 on a carrycot that will only last a few months when I suspect I will mostly be using the sling. And although you should only use the car seat for up to 2-3 hours due to the risk of plagiocephaly and because sitting semi-upright puts pressure on the developing spine, it doesn’t seem likely that we would need to have her in a buggy for more than that time and conscious of this I will try to mix it up to avoid long periods prostrate in the car seat.

    Whatever the reasons for using the sling, the important thing is that it works at the moment and stops her crying, and the best piece of advice I’ve had on parenting so far (I think from Fred’s friend Don)?

    “Do whatever works”.

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