Thursday, February 4, 2010

Babywearing to Promote Advanced Sibling Dynamics

I've been away to improve myself as a mother, and I have plenty of material about that (ongoing) journey that I hope to compile into a cohesive post or three at some point.

But now I want to reflect on something distinct enough to do justice to while my boys nosh their mac'n'cheese.

Caleb is 16 months old. Babies tend to be worn less as they get older, because of their size and mobility, because they start playing more independently. While it is well known that welcoming a new baby to the family is eased by the use of a carrier, for practical and emotional considerations, I've not seen it widely encouraged with older babies when sibling rivalry becomes an issue, or to ease a stressed SAHP's burden.

So I'll do it. ^_^

Wearing Caleb probably benefits him the least, of the three of us, but I have identified a few distinct advantages for him:

1) Fewer bonks, 'cause he's more supervised.
2) Periodic organization of him as a baby. While it's perfectly normal for him to want to keep up with Jeremiah, he is four years younger, and Jeremiah is not a parent. More organization never hurts.
3) Connection with me. This, I think, is the weakest benefit, as he still nurses round the clock and sleeps with us. He's a confident, attached baby.
4) Less hostility from Jeremiah (this really is everyone's benefit).

For Jeremiah:

1) Breaks from having to worry about Caleb 'messing' with his stuff = less stress.
2) Breaks from Caleb, so that being able to play with him is a blessing rather than a curse.
3) Less of me trying to put the onus on him to be patient with the "baby." The psychological benefit here goes so deep for all three of us -- less stress for everyone and a much healthier dynamic.

For me:

1) Less conflict.
2) Less checking in to see where Caleb is and what he's climbing now.
3) Reducing my ratio to 1:1. With less scarcity of my 1:1 time (previously only when Caleb napped), I feel less inclined to make it 1:0 time with the application of way too much Backyardigans. Of course, Caleb isn't actually gone when I wear him (no more than he is when he's asleep and I'm constantly reminding his brother to keep the volume down), but I find it be sufficient for the effect.

Wearing Caleb provides a refill to the cups of at least Jeremiah and myself, and I've yet to observe it to empty Caleb's cup, even if he was not initially amenable to the plan. But having a mother and older brother with filled cups can only ultimately service his cup as well. And I do suspect that he enjoys the ride anyway. ^_^

So, yeah. Babywearing big babies for a happier family. Apply 20-30 minutes daily as needed.

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