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Safe and Practical Rebozo Wearing: Ideas and Tips

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So you've decided to carry your baby using the time-honored tradition of a rebozo (cloth shawl). Here are some tips to make sure the experience is a safe and happy one for you both.

 

  • When you first put baby on in a rebozo, make it a time he is already relaxed and happy, or a little bit sleepy, but not a time he is cranky, fussy, or wants to nurse. You might try introducing baby to the rebozo for a few days before tying him on--wrapping him and you in it as a shawl, cuddling him in it at naptime, etc. This way he begins to enjoy the soft fabric and it takes on your scents before it is used in a new way.
  • The first few hours you use the rebozo, support your baby with both hands. Most parents do this instinctively, and many continue to do so wearing baby whenever there is no need to have their hands free. I always felt most natural holding my babies through the rebozo as I walked down the street, shopping, or nursing.
    Supporting or embracing your baby is different from carrying or lifting the infant--you are letting the shawl take the weight, but your hands are there for added protection and comfort. While you are both getting used to this new way of carrying, you will feel more confident knowing how much your loving arms are still available.
  • Letting baby move in a gently swinging motion within the rebozo on your body is a good way to soothe and relax her. Once you are both used to the rebozo, you will find this to be one of the fastest and easiest ways to get baby to settle down, even if she remains fussy up until the moment she is tucked in and in motion on you. Then it is often just a matter of minutes until she will start cooing or fall asleep. Swaying back and forth, or walking at a regular pace, even in a busy, noisy atmosphere (shopping, or on the street) creates the lulling sensation that babies respond to so readily.
  • The first few times you use the rebozo (except with newborn), take your baby out before nursing, rather than trying to introduce too many new behaviors at once--unless it feels very easy and natural to you and baby both, which it very much might! Then, you can pull the cloth over your baby's head for discreet nursing in public, knowing that the see-through, breathe-through fabric (from the child's point of view) will help him to feel safe and comfortable at the same time.
  • Remember to alternate the shoulder over which the rebozo is worn, and to not wear the rebozo for more than a couple hours at a time when getting used to it. Also it's important to give baby access to the other breast after a couple of hours, or feedings, so that milk continues to flow in optimum amounts from both sides. Newborns often nibble and doze in spurts while inside the rebozo, and they can do so at one breast for up to four hours, I've found, as long as the next couple of full feedings, or the next few hours of nibbles, are from the other side. Little babies who need to be burped after every feeding seem to be more relaxed nursers inside rebozo, and constant access to the breast, taking little bits at a time, makes it possible to nurse without the customary burping, and peaceful nursing and sleeping are readily established.
  • Don't wear baby in any front position while cooking, or handling hot food or drinks, although eating is OK while baby is on; only cook with baby on back when you can keep your activities at arm's distance from curious little hands.
  • Never wear baby while riding a bicycle, motorcycle, horse, or in a moving vehicle, with the exception of planes and trains. A rebozo fits easily into your purse, pack, or diaper bag, and you can slip baby in when you reach your destination.
  • When going around corners or through doorways, be careful that the baby's head or body does not stick out too far and bump into the wall or doorjamb. Always be aware that the amount of space you need to move in includes the extra bulk of the child you are carrying. With an older child on back, you may ask her to duck or otherwise notice how she fits through the places you are moving through, as long as you are also paying close attention.
  • Toddlers in rebozos can grab dangerous or breakable objects. Although this rarely happens, be constantly aware of your child, especially on back or hip. You can help focus them by enlisting their help in your activity, or providing a toy tied onto the rebozo fringe, and always keep them at an arm's distance from possible hazards.
  • Dads may especially enjoy carrying baby when they are big enough to jump on piggyback, be tied on, and GO!
  • If you need to stoop over when baby is tied on you, bend at the knees, not at the waist; when picking up something with one hand when your baby is on front or hip, support your child with your free hand.

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