For centuries, mothers around the world have "worn" their babies close to their bodies in slings. Now, modern mothers and fathers are catching on to the benefits of "babywearing," and created a need for groups like the recently-formed Milwaukee Babywearers.
Milwaukee Babywearers is a group dedicated to helping parents, including expectant parents, learn about the benefits of babywearing. The local group is a chapter of Nine In, Nine Out (NINO), a national organization named after the idea that sling-wearing for at least nine months after birth is important because it creates a comfortable, womb-like environment for the newborn.
Bay View's Carrie Dallner is the leader of Milwaukee Babywearers, along with co-leaders Kat Arn and Dana Hall. Dallner, the mother of a 3-year-old son and 16-month-old daughter, says she was inspired to start the group after finding sling-wearing helpful when she became a new mother.
"I wanted a way to hold my son and go about life and do things around the house," she says. "I didn't like to just leave him to hang out in the swing, saucer or bouncy seat. I wanted to hold him close and have him hang out with me."
Some studies suggest that babies who are worn by their parents tend to cry 40-50 percent less than other babies. "Wearing" a baby also promotes attachment and bonding, permits mom to share the load with dad and grandparents, allows for frequent and discreet breastfeeding and frees the arms to do other things.
Parents who wear babies are able to do light housework, spend time on the computer and care for other young children.
"I really got into babywearing when my daughter was born. It was impossible to chase an active 2-year-old all over and take care of a newborn," says Dallner.
There are many different kinds of slings available, and for some parents, they can get tricky and overwhelming. Because sling wearing is not as common in our culture as in other cultures, it takes practice -- and usually a patient mentor -- to demonstrate how to wear one properly. Hence, Milwaukee Babywearers' mission is to introduce parents to different slings and help them wear and adjust their sling as their baby grows.
Newborns, toddlers and even preschoolers fit into slings, and because the weight (when worn properly) is equally distributed, most mothers and fathers find them very comfortable.
Dahlner says she tried a couple of slings before she found her favorite, the Mei-tai Kozy Carrier. "My Baby Bjorn was really uncomfortable and some other slings I tried weren't working for me. I was on an email discussion group and heard about the Kozy Carrier and once I bought one, I could do all the things I wanted to do," she says.
The next babywearing class is scheduled for Saturday, March 18 from 1 to 3 p.m. at the Bay View Library, 2566 S. Kinnickinnic Ave. Classes are also held every fourth Saturday from 1 to 3 p.m. at The Center for Well Rounded Maternity Care, N88 W16733 Main St. in Menomonee Falls.
The Milwaukee Babywearer's Web site is milwaukeebabywearers.com.
Molly Snyder started writing and publishing her work at the age 10, when her community newspaper printed her poem, "The Unicorn.” Since then, she's expanded beyond the subject of mythical creatures and written in many different mediums but, nearest and dearest to her heart, thousands of articles for OnMilwaukee.
Molly is a regular contributor to FOX6 News and numerous radio stations as well as the co-host of "Dandelions: A Podcast For Women.” She's received five Milwaukee Press Club Awards, served as the Pfister Narrator and is the Wisconsin State Fair’s Celebrity Cream Puff Eating Champion of 2019.