The staff at the International Adoption Clinic at the University of Alabama at Birmingham encourage their clients to use baby carriers to promote attachment. They’ve referred their clients to Magic City Slingers, and we’re proud to include them in our membership. Prospective adoptive parents tend to have different questions about babywearing than parents getting ready to welcome a biological child, so we asked some parents who have been there and done that to share their experiences with our readers. This is the first in a series of contributions from babywearing adoptive parents. It’s from Christine, one of the leaders of a NINO group in Pennsylvania.
Preparing to Adopt a Toddler
Biological moms have an advantage over adoptive moms in that their bodies have 9 months to gradually adjust to carrying extra weight around. However, as expectant adoptive moms, we have the unique advantage of being able to practice using carriers without having a large belly getting in the way. (We can also accurately measure for a pouch before the baby arrives!)
Before adopting my 2-year-old son from Russia, I practiced using my ring sling with a large teddy bear. When I felt confident putting him in, taking him out, and adjusting the rails, I decided to add some weight. At this point, some people enlist their pets’ help, but my Rottweilers weren’t too accommodating! So I stuffed a 5-pound bag of sugar in the sling with the teddy bear. Of course, my son weighed more than 5 pounds, but in the sling he felt lighter than the dead weight of the sugar.
It’s not necessary to practice with weights before adopting an older baby or toddler; it just gives you a better idea of how your sling will feel. By simply choosing to wear your child, you’re already making the physical adjustment easier. I know of quite a few parents who adopted toddlers and complained of carpal tunnel syndrome, back, and shoulder pains. Most of these new pains were due to the stress of holding a relatively heavy child — either in arms or in a car-seat carrier. Babywearing distributes the baby’s weight over more of your body, making your new child feel lighter. It also eases or eliminates stress on weaker joints in your body, so you can truly enjoy every moment you’re holding your new addition.
Up Next: Have Sling, Will Travel — to Russia and back