Tuesday, September 25, 2012

30 days of Baby Wearing for Attachment

When Sweetie came through my door, I knew I needed to do something different. Here was this sweet, sweet little baby who had been through multiple homes before coming to mine, at the ripe old age of 6 months. My Sweetie had lots of love. Lots of nurture. Her sweetness and contentedness showed me this. Her wide eyes and sheer terror when I'd walk out of the room, showed me that this love came from too many mommies, in too short of time. She needed a soft place to land and one Mamma to love. For as long as they'll let me, I want it to be me.

So from the day she moved in, I promised myself that I would "wear" her for at least 1 hour every day for the first 30 days she lived here. To accomplish this, I made a Moby Wrap and strapped her on.

Day 1 - Oh she is so tiny, too tiny, barely 14 pounds, it's like she's a newborn, even though she's really 6 months old. Lots of time in the wrap today, snuggling in, sleeping, waking and clinging. Being so close gives me lots of opportunities to whisper in her ear what a special child she is, how wanted she is, how loved by her family she is and how I am going to take care of her. And it gave me many chances to just kiss her little head.

Day 3 - Since I have two other littles right now and only a double stroller, I have the bigger little kids ride and Sweetie in the sling, for our evening walks. While out tonight, she fell asleep again. The closeness is so cool. She is literally sleeping snuggled in, listening to my heart, all while we walk around the neighborhood and get out of the house.

Day 5 - She loves it. I love it. All-day long, I sway back and forth rubbing my "baby belly". Experiencing and cherishing the baby stage and she seems to be cherishing the womb-like experience - a safe, warm, nurturing environment... a do-over if you will of a hard start of life. We are doing way more than the hour a day goal I set, since she is almost daily taking 1-2 naps in the wrap, we average around 3 hours a day. Ain't gonna lie, my back and shoulders do ache at the end of the day, but the actual time in the carrier is comfortable for both of us.

Day 8 - At a doctor's visit a month ago, before coming to me, her head-size a month ago was quite small, 3rd percent for her age. I measured it today it's in the 13th percent. 10% increase in a month. 10% in one month! This may just be a fluke, just a coincidence, but in my heart of hearts, I think her brain is responding to all the movement and cuddle time - see the science. Sometimes you can tell she'd like to get down and go, go, but we just sway and I remind her that she is crawling, moving and playing great - now we just need to grow her brain. She settles right back in like she completely understands.

Day 9 - One thing I was worried about as I started this is that she would get "spoiled" and forget how to sleep on her own, in a crib. Because at night, this Mamma likes to sleep. Well, last night she slept in her crib, in my room, for a continuous, peaceful and restful, 7.5 hours (Total night sleep: 11 hours, 45minutes - waking only to eat.).

Day 11 - She actually crawls toward me and smiles when I pick up the wrap. It takes a minute to put it on me before I put her in. So while I'm working on it, she just plays with the extra bits.

Day 12 - We had a few hours today of just me and Sweetie. We were downtown, so I went to the art museum, envisioning some quiet, peaceful wrap-time, walking around the museum, drinking a cup of coffee. What I got was about 10 minutes of bliss - and an hour and a half of screaming. Baby and I were not communicating today, I feel like such a bad attachment parent. She had a stinky diaper that I didn't smell, hungry when I left the bottle at home, awake when I felt she should have been napping. We finally got home, got a new diaper, a bottle and now she's napping. We'll have a do-over later today, hopefully, it will go better.

Day 15 - Attachment, attachment, attachment is literally all I can think about. Not sure if it because I am wearing her in the sling, or just because I am falling for her, but I want her to have every possible emotional/developmental advantage from here on out.

Day 17 - Today was just delightful in the baby-carrying world. The little one and I did some major shopping all while she was in the wrap. We were in and out of stores for about 2 hours and she did amazing the whole time. Snuggled in. Quite a few people commented on what a sweet, calm (and quiet) baby I had. I totally agree, but I gotta say I was also pretty proud of the Mamma in me that helped create a sweet, calm and quiet atmosphere for my baby to snuggle into.

Day 24 - Today Sweetie and I attended a foster care support group meeting and she hung out in the sling for the whole 2 hours we were there. We got so many questions about the wrap and comments on how content and peaceful she was in it. I was even asked to come to show people how to wear and make a wrap for themselves and the foster families they work with. How great would that be - more foster and adoptive moms wearing their babies - showing more babies what it is to be snuggled, held and have the chance to attach well, no matter what the future holds.

Day 25 - I've been thinking about it. Those rare moments when Sweetie is fighting against the wrap, against the closeness are actually the most important parts of attachment and helping heal her little heart. Her little self is dealing with a myriad of things - grief, fear of attaching, fear of me leaving - all without the benefit of words. In those times, she cries and arches her back away from me. I hold her gently, swaying, talking softly and just let her work through some of those things. (*This is when she is clean, fed, comfortable (check the wrap), not tired, etc. Make sure your baby doesn't need something and never force a child to cuddle if they aren't ready to.) Who among us doesn't want to be held when we're sad? This way, she remains close to me, close enough to snuggle in when the struggle is over, take a nap and just get some hugs. This way, she learns that I can handle her negative emotions. I can be calm when she can't be. And most importantly, I can stay no matter what.

Day 26 - Charmer was playing with the wrap yesterday and she started to try to put it on. I watched her for a minute and when I asked if she wanted to put her baby on her with the wrap, she nodded her head vigorously in the affirmative. So, I put the wrap on her with her little dolly in it. Seriously, so precious. As soon as her dolly was put into it - she started rubbing the babies back, kissing her head, rocking back and forth. Our older kids are watching how we love the babies, let's teach them well.

Day 30 - How is it possible that we're at day 30 already? That means Sweetie has been here, in my home, my arms and my heart for 30 days now. What a good thing... As far as wrap-life, today we are spending our wrap time cleaning and now taking Sweeties morning nap, safe, warm, snuggled up against me.

To sum it up - if you are working on attachment, if you have a new baby, if you just want to feel closer to your older infants, I highly suggest investing in a wrap and strapping them on. It is a million times worth it, on every level. One thing I wasn't necessarily expecting was the closeness that I feel to my baby. I hear every whimper and want to fix it and the amazing thing is that after only a month - I can. My kiss on her temple sends her to sleep and wakes her up. Holding her calms her breathing, her heartbeat, and her emotions so quickly.

Today I know that there is no way on earth we are done babywearing. The 30 days was an intro into life together and I am not stopping now. Maybe when she gets to the point when she'd rather be running than snuggling we will stop, but I hope I have a few years until that happens. I will take as long as I can get.

I am a wrap Mamma and I am never going back.

*What have you done with your littles to aid attachment and bonding?


  1. I love wearing my babies too!

    I've noticed that going "backward" and helping with other things can be helpful at times. When my littles came to me over a year ago at ages 2 and 3 I noticed that Dude liked it a LOT when I helped feed him. And of course, whatever I did for Dude, Dolly wanted me to do for her.

    No, I didn't feed them all the time. But I did help more than what a "typical" 2 or 3 year old would need. I made eye contact. I even played some of the games that are common to do with babies (think "here comes the airplane - zoooooom"). I know this helped increase their trust in me. I could see it deep in their eyes.

    I also hold ALL my children a lot. We had 8 & 9 year old sisters once that came to us with the most severely abusive background you can imagine. Every night at bedtime behaviors ramped up. It was AWFUL!! (Every time the sun went down they were triggered by memories of all the horrific nighttime abuses they had suffered through.) Once my husband and I committed to making the bedtime routine longer on our end, and more structured, things improved. They reached an (almost) manageable stage when we added holding the children into part of the routine. They crawled up into our laps in their darkened bedroom and snuggled with us. Sometimes we talked about "big" things. Sometimes we just chatted about the day and what they could expect the next day. That contact made such an incredibly difference though!!!

  2. great story on wearing. my cousin introduced me to the mobe wrap when you had her 3rd baby and he and she love it! i purchased one to try -- just waiting on the kiddos..

  3. I wish I had known more about this when our placements arrived. They have settled well now, but when I think of how much sooner they could have felt safe and nurtured, I regret not knowing more about attachment.

    I am thrilled that your little one has found a safe place, and thank you for more information!


It'll be a pleasure hearing your thoughts. Alisa

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