Before I had children, one of the images that was burned on my brain regarding the mother I wanted to be, was a woman flitting about town easily wearing her baby. Something about babywearing always seemed so maternal to me. If you could multitask, hands-free around town with an infant secured to your body, you were basically saying, “Hey world! I’ve got this mothering thing down.”
Obviously, I registered for a baby wrap. It was one of the first items on my registry to arrive, and I was beyond excited. I rolled it out of its packaging and was shocked to see that it stretched almost the entire length of my railroad apartment in Brooklyn. I’m not kidding. This thing was 20 feet long. I was confused, yet determined to get it to work.
Fast forward and hour and five YouTube videos later. I was sweating, crying, and convinced I was a terrible mother because I couldn’t even manage to secure a damn teddy bear in the wrap — let alone a real human baby. It probably wasn’t the best idea to try the wrap out while eight months pregnant — it’s not exactly easy to accomplish what can only be described as “body origami” when you are that huge.
Eventually, I figured the wrap out, but it never totally worked for me. I never felt secure. I wasn’t hands-free, because I constantly had a hand under my child. Although obviously it could, I never trusted that the wrap would hold. I finally settled on one that was more like a backpack. I also realized babywearing isn’t for everyone.
Which is why it’s so annoying to see a company that sells baby wraps also try to sell women on the idea that they are terrible mothers if they don’t carry their newborns everywhere after they are born. One company actually makes the leap of calling babywearing “exterior gestation” — implying that humans are actually marsupials and need more time to develop next to their mothers outside the womb. Um, no.
The developer behind one wrap, The Bobo, has this to say in her pitch for the product:
“When it comes to the relationship between a mother and child, kangaroos set a unique precedent that many humans should take to heart. A baby kangaroo, called a joey, stays in his pouch until his “exterior gestation” is complete and he is able to move away from his mother on his own. And, like joeys, human infants are also born immature, still needing their mothers’ bodies to nourish and care for them.”
Nope. Kangaroos are born blind and the size of a kidney bean. They actually will not survive outside the pouch. Which is what makes them marsupials, not humans. There’s more:
“Despite the fact that across the majority of the globe many mothers carry their babies, more and more tiny newborns are spending most of their days alone in plastic containers, bouncy seats, and strollers and spending their nights alone in bassinets and cribs. Nature didn’t intend it to be this way. A mother and her infant are hard-wired to expect unity, and for that unity to continue after birth.”
Infants are spending their days alone in plastic containers? Really? Like, Tupperware? How have I missed this handy baby-storage solution?
Is it possible that we can sell a product without making mothers feel like absolute shit? If you’re selling a babywrap, tell us it makes our lives easier because strollers can be cumbersome. Tell us it’s easy to secure. Tell us our infants will be comfortable in it. Don’t tell us we’re abandoning our children if we decided to push them in a stroller. I’ve never seen a stroller campaign that said, “Strollers. Because you’ll raise a giant man-baby if you don’t learn how to put him down.”
The last thing a new mother needs is more guilt, worry, and confusion regarding whether she’s “doing it right.” Parenting tools like baby wraps exist to make a parent’s life easier, so this kind of guilt-marketing makes no sense. I won’t even mention how sexist it is that the entire pitch is aimed at mothers. Oops. I just did.
Yes, babies need to be held, but implying that using modern conveniences like strollers makes you a disconnected mother is just… unnecessary.