When my wife and I had our first child almost 10 years ago I knew almost nothing about parenting. To my knowledge I had never held a baby before that day when I held our son for the first time. I had never changed a diaper and I certainly had never researched the importance of attachment parenting. Yet, I just felt it was important to hold my son as much as I could. I held him in my arms and carried him in several different baby carriers for years never knowing that I was part of "a baby wearing movement."
I think in many ways my absolute lack of experience with parenting turned out to be a blessing. I did not think to raise my kid in a car seat facing the television because I had never watched anyone do so and was never socialized into thinking it appropriate. I just looked into my young son's eyes and felt compelled to keep him as close to me as possible for as long as possible.
Today I have three children and I still keep them all as close to me as possible. Certainly my active nine year old doesn't spend much time in my arms these days (except during really special emotional moments on the couch), but we sure seem to stay close together. Where I go, he goes. That is the way it has always been and I hope that is the way it will be at least for a few more years.
The reported advantages of baby wearing are many and include a deeper sense of attachment, emotional and social health for the child and parent, improved physical development, more convenient breast feeding, and earlier communication. Along with breast feeding it is really one of the greatest gifts you can give your child.
That said, what I would like to add today is my own experience of having raised three wonderful children in baby carriers. Carrying our children close to us has allowed us to continue our very active life even when others said it could not be done. In addition, we have children who still snuggle up to us every day and that is saying a great deal about a 9 year old boy. Our children have seen the world as we have seen it, have felt the security of our heart beats and warmth, and have been a part of all of our conversations. They know what family means.
Now that I have three children all a bit too large to carry around, I look back and feel so amazingly grateful that my wife and I fell into baby wearing and attachment parenting. I have spent literally thousands of hours with my arms wrapped around my children and wouldn't trade a moment of it all. There were certainly nights when I was convinced I wasn't going to survive another day as a young dad, but in retrospect, I cherish every moment. More and more my children are drawn to individuals and activities beyond me. It is both fun to watch and a little bit sad. They are growing up.
If you are trying to decide whether baby wearing is for you, please just do it. The books and the research will all tell you how wonderful it is for your child. I'd like to just say it will be wonderful for you as well. I've had it said to me as you have a thousand times, "they grow up so fast." But....it is true. Hold them while you still can!
Vincent M. Smith