A Subculture All Of Our Very Own

Many babywearers identify themselves as practicing Attachment Parenting or the Continuum Concept, a distinct parenting subculture that promotes physical closeness between parent and child. However, there are many people who practice babywearing who do not identify as a part of this parenting subculture. I’m going to make the argument that babywearing is a distinct subculture all of its very own, distinct but not necessarily separate to the attachment parenting culture.

Wikipedia defines a subculture as

…a group of people with a culture (whether distinct or hidden) which differentiates them from the larger culture to which they belong…

We are, most of us, part of a child raising culture. However, babywearing is a fully fledged subculture within the broader group. We are externally differentiated from other parents who choose to love their kids in the stroller, we internally differentiate ourselves from other parents by calling ourselves babywearers.

Wikipedia goes on,

Members of a subculture often signal their membership through a distinctive and symbolic use of style, which includes fashions, mannerisms, and argot. They also live out particular relations to places…

Babywearers as a group are distinctive to say the least. We are distinct in our choice of carrier and we signal our membership with the secret handshake otherwise known as “jazz hands”. We also have particular relations to online places. We have a set of babywearing values (safety, durability, versatility), we have our fashions and style (pamir, silk slings, scandi mei tais), we also have our own argot- secret language. Why do you think there’s a dedicated acronym page at BCD? Who could make their way through the BWCC, WPBC, RUB, KC, SB and ABCs of BWing without it if they hadn’t belonged for some time?

Do you ever find that babywearing has become a part of your identity? You may or may not practice attachment parenting, you may or may not identify with a particular parenting style at all (apart from the “love your kids as hard as you possibly can” philosophy with which all parents can identify). Since you’re sitting at your computer reading this blog, though, you do identify with babywearing. You may identify yourself as a babywearer.

How many times have you taken the stroller out, met another person wearing their child and inwardly rolled your eyes at yourself? You’re a babywearer. And you know it.

About Steph

Steph is a Mum of three with a passion for babywearing and some excellent skills with knots.
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4 Responses to A Subculture All Of Our Very Own

  1. Renee Brown says:

    I am a self confessed “baby wearer” for 8 years now. I have carried my 4 children day and night from birth until the age of 13months for as much of the day and evening as possible. After 13months all of my children have been happy to be more independant and have started to explore the world a little more without me.

    I have used or tried nearly every baby carrier or sling on the market, I have found 3 styles that have suited me the best, and these are all different, but they have suited me at differing ages and stages of my children. I have so enjoyed the peacefulness, closeness, and loving that baby carrying has offerred me and my babies that I decided I had to manufacture my own baby carrier in order to truly share with others my wonderful experiences.

    Sure at times I have felt like there was no longer just me, as my identity had encompassed always having a baby strapped to me in some shape or form, but honestly my identity changed never to be the same the minute I became pregant with my first child.

    These days I rarely worry about ‘what to wear’, a plain outfit won’t matter all that much as I will be wearing baby. These days it is as much about the ‘fashion’ of the baby carrier as it is my clothes and my babies’ clothing.

    Baby Wearing has offerred me the freedom to be with my babies 24/7, whilst still caring for my other children, allows me play soccer in the park, go to the beach, shop, school drop off, kindy drop off, cook, clean, and run a home based business, etc etc etc, all with a happy contented, baby.

    I feel sorry for those who spend so much time and money on ensuring they have ‘the right’ pram to keep up appearances, as much of the time I haven’t needed a pram at all, well not at least until my babies were toddlers.

    It is a shame our society today does not a large put more emphasis on ‘instinctive parenting’ as being a worthwhile way of parenting instead mentioning the ‘A’ Word (attatchment parenting) immediately makes people think you are some sort of Nazi. Any how these are some of my thoughts.
    To sum up, I love being a baby wearer and can’t wait until October when my 5th baby is due to enjoy the closeness again.


  2. sarahr says:

    While I definitely identify as AP (extended BFing and cue feeding, ec, co-sleeping etc) it’s babywearing that has the most impact on my identity. I think because it’s so visible other people see you as ‘That woman with the baby carriers’, whereas other aspects of one’s parenting style are more discrete.

    Renee, I try to practise ‘Instinctive Parenting’, but I feel that we live in a culture where people’s natural parenting instincts are often completely buried under a mountain of misinformation and consumerist pressure.


  3. KristinD says:

    I have really loved carrying my son and was devastated to find that the Ergo, which I loved, wasn’t loving me back. While I search for a new carrier, I am forced to use the pram. I have to turn the pram handles so that my son is facing away from me, otherwise he wants me to carry him. I’m getting more used to it but it feels really wrong. Also, I wish I could carry a sign saying, “I’m really a baby-wearer – this pram thing is a temporary necessity.”
    I had no idea that baby wearing had become so much of my identity until I had to do otherwise.
    I would be interesting to see some research on baby wearers and whether they also do AP. There are key elements of AP that we follow too and I’m sure that baby wearing is part of a mental attitude to wanting your baby close to you in every way possible.
    I wish everyone could experience the joy of baby wearing. Apart from the emotional and health benefits, it’s just so convenient it amazes me that anyone would want to do otherwise!

  4. Pingback: Six Slings of Separation | Baby Carriers Downunder

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