By Susan-Elizabeth Littlefield

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — If you haven’t done it yourself, there’s a huge chance you’ve seen someone else doing it at the zoo, the grocery store or a restaurant.

It’s called babywearing. It can look like a frontal swaddle or a structured backpack.

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Wraps and carriers can support children up to 60 pounds by tethering them tightly to an adults torso. Some use wraps others carriers, but the concept is the same, and it’s started a movement in the Twin Cities.

Look left, look right, at the Como Zoo in St. Paul, and the gorillas are not the only parents who keep their babies close at hand.

Father Josh Rechtfertig carried his 4-month-old daughter around Como Zoo in front.

“It’s easier,” he said. “She doesn’t slosh around so much. Works out good.”

He’s just one of the many new parents in Minnesota ditching their strollers. Samantha Leland of Duluth wears her baby in front too, even for a long day at the zoo.

“It’s an awesome workout,” she said. “I carried her inside of me for eight months, so now she’s just on the outside.”

Just like with other clothing, the options are endless. Some wraps are woven, and some are structured carriers.

There were an array at a church in St. Paul where new moms were getting advice on babywearing, and also trying out a lending library of wraps. Mothers from Babywearing Twin Cities stood by to answer questions.

“We have five to six meetings a month where anyone can come get free education on babywearing,” Babywearing Twin Cities President Chrtistina Owens said. “Babies have a biological need to be held, and babywearing can meet that need while still giving caregivers a way to get through.”

You may be wondering whether too much closeness could be a bad thing. Dr. Eric Barth of Allina Health in Ramsey researched baby wearing for us.

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“It is a way of keeping the babies close so you can have that bonding, which is so important,” he said.

Dr. Barth says it can calm and comfort children. He says it’s a good option for most healthy children, but not premature babies. His only warning is not to wear them too much.

“It’s a balance,” he said. “Just make sure the child has a chance to develop all those motor skills.”

And he recommends the TICKS acronym

  • Tightly secured
  • In view at all times
  • Close enough to kiss
  • Keep chin off the chest
  • Supported back

Keep the baby tightly wrapped, make sure you can see their face at all times, keep them close enough to kiss their head, keep their chin off their chests and make sure the back is supported.

With the knowledge in mind, it’s clear that free arms are priceless when you’re wearing the most precious of accessories.

If you would like to learn more about carriers, how to wrap kids propery or just ask questions – we’ve got information for on how to connect with Beabywearing International:

Babywearing Twin Cities Website

Babywearing Twin Cities On Facebook

Babywearing International: South Metro Chapter

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Babywearing International: South Metro Chapter On Facebook

Susan-Elizabeth Littlefield