Babywearing in Hospital
As a family, our introduction to babywearing resembled a crazy morning of research on how to carry a small baby and where to buy something that afternoon. With a child who is reliant on life support equipment to breathe for her overnight we have a multitude of regular hospital appointments, monitoring and assessments. When her brother arrived unexpectedly early, the use of something to keep him close and calm made getting through the day that much easier. Over time, my use of carriers pretty much saved us all. For a mum with a night shift working partner, a small baby and a child who doesn’t breathe when they sleep – I needed to use ALL the tools I could! With a distinct lack of a village, discovering the flexibility and convenience of Babywearing was something I will forever be grateful for.
This tip is about the benefits for the PARENT of a special needs child – because whilst there are many many benefits for the babe/child whom is worn, and the siblings and other family/community members this is essentially about me – the mum, the caregiver, the primary parent.
So this week I’m going to encourage you to think outside the box. Why you, or someone you know might benefit from knowing about how to safely use a baby carrier when you or they have a child who needs extra. Whether that be attending to additional medical needs (eg. diabetic child, child with tube feeds), or closely monitoring or being able to attend to a child quickly and with two hands (eg. child with a seizure disorder, breathing difficulties, ASD, ADHD).
Babywearing allows you to
Have two free hands so that you can suction your child’s airway efficiently, or give them medications down a feeding tube, or connect a feeding tube without them grabbing at you!
remain responsive and connected to a small child during extended hospital appointments, visits or stays,
reconnect with a baby/child while meeting needs of other child/children,
breast or bottle feed baby whilst sitting/standing with and supporting therapy needs of your child,
Have a tool that baby comes to know as a place that is safe to sleep regardless of whether at home, school, allied health or medical appointments,
Entertain an older Bub during appointments whilst keeping them safe and out of harms way of medical equipment (my little man was happy in a pram – but sitting still in it for extended periods was not his fave activity but back carrying and singing he loved),
Involve Bub in the reality of life with a child with special needs,
Respond immediately to your child when their equipment starts alarming and you are settling Bub to sleep (using a carrier to settle as otherwise Bub would be left alone unexpectedly – they don’t understand that an oxygen monitor alarming is important to attend to),
Hold your child with needs closely during everyday activities – wearing the child with special needs allows you to continue YOUR enjoyed activities whilst also being available and able to respond to your child.
Reassure your special needs child during medical appointments,
Use one hand on the medical equipment and one hand on my daughter.
I’m sure there are many more that I have overlooked – but for me – these have been the main benefits that I wanted to share. Most of these are in the situation of wearing a young Bub whilst providing care for an older special needs child. I can however see, that the benefits for a parent wearing a younger special needs child and being able to attend to and provide care for older siblings would have an even broader list of benefits for the caregiver. Unless you have cared for a child with special needs – you cannot appreciate just how difficult it is. Sitting to cuddle and bond with my baby was unfortunately a luxury that some days I just didn’t have – so our bonding was definitely enhanced by my ability to wear him and catch up on household and self-care needs. If I had known about Babywearing options when my daughter was younger, I imagine I would have struggled far less with managing a toddler and medical equipment.
As the parent of a child who must always have an adult ready to respond and come to her assistance – to Babywearing I’m grateful. I’m always looking for an opportunity to share my experience with other parents in similar circumstances – and this week I’m sharing it far and wide!
Babywearing has been a big influence along my parenting journey and has helped empower me to be the great mum that I know that I am! Please share this article with other great caregivers that you know – maybe it might spark their interest in using Babywearing as a tool in their parenting toolbox!