Did you know that the pram, when compared with baby carriers, is a recent invention? It was introduced in the 1900s with Queen Victoria, and it was widely perceived as a symbol of wealth. It transmitted the clear message that one belongs to that part of the elite society who could afford to hand over their babies to be raised by nannies and nurses; the more detached from the parents the better.

Babywearing, on the other hand, was the parenting way to go of the ‘poor’. Peasant mums wore babies using long cloths, shawls, scarves and bedsheets while working out in the fields or juggling the needs of their big families at home in order to get chores done.

Nowadays things are different. Babywearing has come back in full force, and it is usually young, modern, sophisticated mothers you will see out in the streets proudly wearing their babies. This is what International Babywearing Week is all about: to bring back into the spotlight the importance and vast benefits of wearing our babies, which can be practical, physical and emotional.

Babywearing has transformed the lives of Maltese mothers for the better.

Tammy Stellini said: “If I was told I could only take three items to an isolated island, the baby carrier will be one of them. It simply makes you mobile, able to carry on with your life and the baby feels secure and comfortable against the mother’s heartbeat.”

Babywearing made Tiziana Farrell a more independent mother, “especially when alone, with no help and running errands. But most of all it kept me and my baby closer”.

This is what International Babywearing Week is all about: bringing back into the spotlight the importance and vast benefits of wearing our babies, which can be practical, physical and emotional

For Elaine Vella babywearing was a life changer: “I used it at work, to do laundry, to go to the store, to go for a walk and to go abroad. “It was and still is the best investment ever. When you live in a busy area where a pushchair barely ever passes on the pavement, babywearing was a saviour. Now, at two years, I still love it.”

Natasha Azzopardi, mother of three, said: “Babywearing has really enriched my experience of motherhood in those early months. I don’t know what I would do without my carrier. I wore my little ones to the supermarket, while cooking at home, on and off planes, to parks and virtually everywhere I go. And my children loved it too. It was also easy and handy to breastfeed while in the carrier.”

Babywearing convert Maria Parnis said that with her first son she used to own a non-ergonomic carrier, which completely put her off the idea of babywearing. “My back hurt, my baby’s legs turned blue, he was super fussy and it was not practical at all. With my second son, I researched and found a Maltese babywearing group. I was intrigued and wanted to know more, my fellow group members helped me and I also met up with a professional. I loved it instantly.”

Tomorrow marks the beginning of week-long babywearing celebrations all around the world and Malta will be celebrating the concept on October 7 between 10.30am and 12.30pm at the YUE Holistic Centre in Naxxar.

The event will kick off with a discussion on the benefits of babywearing, followed by a fun JoiMove babywearing dance session. Participants can bring their own baby carriers or borrow one from Babywearing Malta’s sling library.

Older children can join the fun and wear their favourite dolls with a scarf or doll carrier. The much anticipated Tula brand launch will also be celebrated during the event and the innovative ergonomic, insertless, forward-facing Ergobaby Omni 360 carrier will be launched.

Demonstrations and sales of carriers will be available on dedicated stands of various sling and carrier local agents, with many special offers just for the day. The event will close with a raffle offering prizes, including an Ergobaby 360 cool air carrier. Tea, coffee and gluten, dairy, nut-free cake servings are complimentary. Tickets are available online.

The event is organised by Babywearing Malta, founded by Malta’s first certified babywearing educator, Becky Gauci Maistre, who joined forces with Maltamum in 2015. The aim is to raise awareness locally on the many benefits of ergonomic babywearing and better the lives of parents and babies alike. For this event, Maltamum will be represented by Pauline Lephew, certified babywearing educator from Koala & Mama Babywearing Consultancy.

Elisavet Arkolaki is the author of parenting blog www.maltamum.com.

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