Spanish model Elsa Pataky, wife of actor Chris Hemsworth, posted pictures of their family on Instagram, and the first thing I thought of was Helmsworth proudly wearing one of his baby twins in a carrier strapped to his front. Looking confident and caring, the dad of three was enjoying a day at the beach with his family. Most importantly, it wasn't a big deal to him to be toting a kid in the carrier.
As it shouldn't be. So, why did that image of Mr. Hemsworth surprise me? Perhaps because I more often see moms wearing their little ones than dads. I’ve heard some dads comment on their hesitation to wear babies, citing everything from hesitation on manipulating tiny limbs into a confusing baby holster to back pain from toting around the extra weight.
There is the stereotypical über-manly response that I have thankfully not come across from dads citing that wearing a baby is not manly, however this could be seen in some of the comments surrounding a post from dad blogger Doyin Richards. Mr. Richards ignited a debate about the manliness of men caring for babies, among other things, when a picture he posted of him wearing his baby daughter while styling the hair of his toddler daughter went viral.
More modern dads are embracing the practice of baby-wearing and encouraging other dads to join them, as witnessed by Pinterest boards, a tumblr page, a Facebook community, and advice columns from childrearing experts like Dr. Sears.
Embracing the practice is not without benefits. In addition to bonding time, the experts at Babywearing International state that wearing babies helps increase parent confidence, as parents learn to read their kids behavior and moods more easily when connected. From the organization's website:
A large part of feeling confident as a parent is the ability to read our babies’ cues successfully. Holding our babies close in a sling allows us to become finely attuned to their movements, gestures, and facial expressions. Every time a baby is able to let us know that she is hungry, bored, or wet without having to cry, her trust in us is increased, her learning is enhanced, and our own confidence is reinforced.
My husband is frequently ready to wear our son, even as he approaches the weight limit on our carrier. I remember my husband wearing our son in the middle of the summer in Virginia when my son was about 8-months-old. As my husband peeled the infant off of his front where he had been secured, there was a distinct sweat mark in the shape of a baby left on my husband’s shirt. In my opinion, it was one of his most attractive moments as a dad.
In that moment, laughing together about how cuddling a baby can be as sweaty as it is inspiring, I realized that his attractiveness came from him helping me literally and figuratively carry the load of caring for our son. As a mom who was at the time still transitioning from the familiar world of full-time office life to the challenging task of full-time parenting, I needed all the help I could get.
Thankfully my husband, and other dads like Hemsworth offer a great model of one thing men can do to bond with their kids, and perhaps help their spouses literally shoulder the weight of parenting.
If dads still need convincing, they can watch a how-to video from PAXbaby.com featuring a dad showing how to easily and properly use a wrap carrier, complete with music video throwbacks for their entertainment. They can also watch Brian Rosenworcel’s satirical “tutorial” video, in which he shows the wrong way to wrap his newborn twins in a Moby Wrap carrier, but celebrates parenting humility at its finest. Most importantly, both videos remind us that humor, as well as patience, are possibly the best tools for mastering a new parenting skill.