Excessive carrying of children - taboo or not?
Ever wonder why we like to carry children? It is clear ... they are sweet, they are ours, we love them, we want to embrace them, give them all the love. Of course we will wear them, cuddle them, hug them, but do we ever exaggerate in carrying them? Is wearing a solution for most situations when a child is sad, irritable, angry ...
Do we think about our spine, our health? If we are not healthy, we will not be able to devote ourselves adequately to the child. Maybe sometimes or even often we think that "we can do everything" and that nothing will happen to us, and in fact we forget to take care of ourselves, in addition to the constant care for the child.
This may all sound harsh, but stop for a moment and think.
- Can we ever make it easier for ourselves without even realizing it? Of course.
- Or do we know we can make it easier for ourselves, but we keep putting it off? Oh yeah.
We always find some reason why we can't dedicate ourselves to it right now. And so time goes by ... the baby grows, it gets heavier, it's more and more accustomed to carrying, and we start thinking "Hey, you're big now, so I don't have to carry you all the time" and we put the child next to us, but the child begins to cry or protest in some way. It is not clear to us, there are so many toys and activities, but the child wants to be carried around. We suddenly think that the child is big enough now and it should not be carried much (for example at 1.5 or 2 years old), and we did not give him the opportunity to gradually experience and understand that he / she really does not need to be (so much) carried by us.
The story of it can be complicated ... and it can be simple. It depends on how we rethink it in our head and how we present this taboo of "carrying" to the child.
Here are some GUIDELINES on how a child doesn't actually get used to excessive carrying from the beginning:
From the very beginning, while the child is not yet walking or crawling, place the child next to you, on a mat (material or sponge), in a swing / deck chair and prepare the environment - put a couple of toys around the child, give him one in his hand, place a bow over him / her with toys .... today there really are a lot of didactic aids that we all use for children and capture their attention, and at the same time encourage development from an early age. It is important that you are next to the child and you do not have to hold him, but you are still actively involved: you encourage the child, talk to him, smile, tap, mostly give positive signals and, of course, respond to the child's signals. The child will thus experience this situation as something pleasant and safe, which above all it is.
Such a way is also associated with encouraging the independence of children from an early age.
We are there for the child, but that does not mean that we are only there for him when we hold him in our arms and when we are separated by at most 1 centimeter. Of course, if the child protests and cries a lot, we will embrace him again, calm him down, hug him and then try again at some point. As with most things in upbringing, an important factor here is your persistence, and I would say your "power of presentation". Try until the child likes it and until he/she just realizes that a meter or two away from the parent does not mean that the parent is not there and that he is unavailable. Gradually shorten the time you hold the child, and increasingly encourage the child to play on the mat while you are next to him. So there you are, and you don't necessarily have to carry a baby.
All of the above applies to situations when the child is calm, when there are no other current difficulties (painful teething, cramps, leap in development, illness, etc.). So, you will not start trying it while the child is crying inconsolably or after a whole sleepless night, but maybe sometimes you really want to try it in such moments (depending on the child and your judgement - sometimes children can react very positively to a sudden change in the situation or when you introduce something new - because it will be interesting to them and distract them from crying). Trust your judgement!
Remember that you are the one who will teach your child this, the child will not know it by itself, because the child tests the limits in everything, the child would be in your arms 24/7 if he could - not out of necessity, but because you would allow him. We all have a need to breathe on our own and cuddle, and this way both elements for the child and the parent will be satisfied.
Some might now say, "My child just loves carrying, it's like that from the beginning." Sure, there are some children who are like that byy character, but it is also important to ask, as a parent, did we offer the child other ways to enjoy, cuddle, spend time with the parent than in our arms or in the lap?
- Did we play with the child while he was on the changing mat?
- Did we put it on the play mat enough?
- Have we presented him with fun, stimulating and fulfilling activities while he is not in our arms?
- Did we put the child in a lounger, a swing or something similar where the child is amused?
- Did we often take the child for stroller walks?
- What is the way we PUT OUR CHILD TO SLEEP?
I would like to touch on the issue of PUTTING THE CHILD TO SLEEP (in our arms).
Much like playing on a mat. The habits of putting a child to sleep are formed from the very first days. In the first days, most children just sleep and breastfeed (or feed in some other way) and the children mostly fall asleep during feeding. Whenever a child falls asleep, lay him in the crib. If the child is awake, fed, changed, and it is time for him to sleep, put him in the crib, play light music, white noise, meditation or read to him, sing (anything which suits you and the child) and thus create a sleeping routine. If you swing your baby in your arms, he will get used to falling asleep that way. While a child is so small, for the most part he doesn't really need much to fall asleep and doesn't look for any special effects to be able to fall asleep. He simply needs a lot of sleep because he is developing intensively.
If your child is already accustomed to falling asleep in your arms, and you are thinking of changing it, be sure to do it gradually. Make use of your bed so that the child first gets used to calming down or falling asleep next to you, not on you. Offer your child a (soft) toy that will be a sing for sleeping and offer it to him every time he goes to sleep. During time, you can put him in a crib before he falls asleep so that he can fall asleep there. Adjust it according to your child, some will immediately try putting in the crib to fall asleep on their own, and some will start with the parent's bed and then later with falling asleep on their own in the crib. If the child complains and cries, calm him down a bit by cuddling, singing or in your arms, and then return him to the target position (on the bed, in the crib ...) and so on until he gradually begins to accept. Most parenting experiences testify that a child needs 3 days to accept such a form of change. So, 3 days expect all kinds of reactions from your child, for which you prepare yourself in advance how you will calm him down except in your arms, and after 3 days comes a long period of what you wanted to achieve and what you succeeded together with your child. Congratulations!
It's clear that it is not just a matter of wearing or not wearing it now at this point, because all your actions you do in parenting from an early age affect your child's holistic development all the time and lay the foundation for what kind of person your child will become.
Aware or unaware of this, in some situations by carrying a child you are giving him the message that he/she cannot do something on his/her own. And when you give him the message that he can't do it alone, you do things for the child and you don't really give him full space to develop to the full potential he might have if you let him try more on his own - play, turn to the side, reach a toy, and sometimes even calm down and fall asleep.
For example, if the child is next to you on the mat for a while and it's fine, he /she likes it, plays and suddenly starts to squeal as if he/she would start crying, you as a parent do not have to immediately take the child in your arms, first address the child, ask him in the gentle tone what's wrong, offer him another toy, change his position ... try other things first before you hold him again. Of course, this is applicable for situations when you know that the child has not started crying because, for example, he is hungry, dirty, sleepy, etc. If the child just pooped and you are trying to animate him on the mat, it is clear that it is no longer the right time for the mat, but just the right time to go to the changing mat.
So, if you respond to every child's resentment with an instant carrying, it will form a message to the child and a vision of how being in your arms is the solution to every type of problem the child encounters.
I will share a personal example. I mentioned a stroller walk earlier. In the case of me and my toddler, we've been going for stroller walks since he was a week old. I gave birth by C-section and I wasn't the best physically, because I had a painful incision and I had weaknesses, so those walks were short and not so frequent in that early period (maybe 2-3 times a week). Until his 3 weeks of age he didn't protest while riding in a stroller, and at 3 weeks he started crying when I put him in a stroller. From those 3 weeks, he also got infantile cramps (colic), so that was the reason for his dissatisfaction with things that did not bother him before. I decided to be persistent with attempts to ride in a stroller, because even after 3 weeks I did not recover much physically, my back hurt because my body needed to get used to the fact that with a weakened abdominal wall I often have to lift the baby in and out of crib and carry it when needed, and I could barely carry myself. I was still in pain with every move. So carrying my toddler was a great torment and pain to me, but I wanted to spend as much time with him as possible and dedicate myself to him. I envisioned the stroller as a salvation for my physical condition, positive for him because he is in the fresh air, he is comfortable, he gets to know the sounds and smells from nature, he knows that I am with him and that I am there for him even though he is not directly attached to me. I was surprised by his displeasure with stroller, but I equiped myself with musical toys, sang to him, caressed him as he lay in the stroller, I tried to calm him down with everything that wasn't carrying him. It was hard, but I didn't give up. I didn't let him cry inconsolably because I couldn't listen to him cry, I would carry him a little and then start everything again. While reading the literature, I found the idea to lay him on his stomach, and my mom advised me to do the same. Since he was only 3 weeks old, I was afraid to do it while he was still so small and while there was a danger of not moving his head to the side, but of driving it straight and being unable to reach the air. But I decided to give it a try and see how it would work with him. We get to the stroller, I present to him in advance how great it is that now we go for a walk, all positive, I put him on his back and the alarm goes off: weeeep weeeep. I take him, turn him over and lie down on his stomach. ... Silence ... No crying. Later, I only realized that his cramps started and that is why it suits him to be on his stomach, and from then until today he always sleeps on his stomach. He turned his head and raised it without any problems from those 3 weeks onwards. He even kept it in the air. From then until today, stroller walks are still a pleasure.
If I had given up and said "He just doesn't like to ride in a stroller", it would have been a pity for all those experiences we have since had in our walks and an even bigger pity for his possibility of self-calming and independence in general,and of course for my recovery.
In conclusion, I want to emphasize that I am not against carrying, in fact carrying and such a way of closeness with the child creates positive hormones, feelings and experiences for both the child and the parent. I carried my baby in my arms and in a kangaroo also ... and I still carry it. With this article, I wanted to emphasize how carrying can be excessive, and in such a form it is questionable whether it has a positive effect on a child's development.
Think again about everything. Any way that you decide is best for you and your child is fine. If you want to change something and don't know where to start, I hope you've got a clearer picture of the alternatives. Feel free to contact and share your experiences.
Tea without taboos