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My baby girl’s head is close enough to kiss and I can feel her heartbeat against mine. Her head peacefully rests just under my collar bone and I never want to stop holding her this way. For the first time since she’s been born, I’m working at my desk and I’m at peace at the same time, because she’s right there and I know she’s safe and happy, her lips in a peaceful lopsided curve, her breath evenly inhaling and exhaling. My heart, which has been racing with anxiety, calms down and I can concentrate, kissing the downy head a few inches from my chin every few minutes. My baby’s in my beloved yellow baby carrier and she sleeps peacefully for two hours. This is amazing because little Anneka’s acid reflux kept her from sleeping for more than 30 minutes at a time for weeks during the day, and I marvel at her peace and contentment.
Another day, she’s having trouble settling down for a nap and I take her outside in the brilliant Colorado sunshine. She looks around thoughtfully and starts blinking in the bright light, eventually her head rests against me and she nods off, lulled to sleep by the rhythm of walking and the warmth of the sunshine. I want to walk for hours.
Late at night, I hear her baby cries and I force my eyelids open and stumble across the room, falling into her crib and almost falling down. I can’t take this anymore, I think. She’s awoken 3 times already and it’s only 11:30. I am even more exhausted because I wasn’t sleeping anyway. I was laying there wondering if she was still breathing. I pick up my little human whose cries sound as distressed as my heart feels and I lay down with her snuggled in my arms.
And I sleep. She nurses and sleeps as well. And I don’t get up until morning breaks through the window. She smiles up at me. This is how it should be, I think. Sleep. For both mother and baby. And nourishment for baby. And closeness. And peace.
I’m amazed, just two days after I sleep with her and hold her in the baby carrier, that she is a much calmer, happier baby, more content to lay on a blanket or in her swing by herself for longer stretches of time. “She is secure,” I think as I watch her new found chillness.
Shortly after this night, I get a cosleeper, so I can hold Anneka at night and put her in the cosleeper for an hour here and there if she gets restless or hot (which she sometimes does), and seems to need some space.
The baby trainers words on blogs haunt me, as do comments from strangers. “Your baby will still be sleeping with you when she’s 5.”
“So much work for you to hold her in the baby carrier while she naps! You should get her used to the crib.”
And from friends.
“She will never learn to sleep alone if she’s used to being next to you.”
But I don’t let fear of the future keep me from doing what feels right to me as a Mother now. And I cherish every minute of the closeness.
At about 4 months, Anneka’s naps in the Lille baby become less settled. Instead of sleeping for 2 hours, she sleeps for only 30 minutes, then peers out at me with curious eyes. I have to be increasingly quiet, too. Every word I say could wake her up; it used to be that the sound of my voice used to soothe her. Every dish rattle, everything anybody else said to me, woke her up. But her naps were even shorter in a crib or swing. “Here it comes.” I thought. “The dreaded transition.”
But to my surprise, the dreaded transition lasts less than a week. Each time Anneka napped in her crib, her naps get longer. Rather than stressing over trying to get her back to sleep when she wakes up after a very short sleep cycle, I just greet her warmly and hold her awhile. I think she decided a crib wasn’t a bad place to sleep since I was always around the corner. I loved it when I found her up doing a baby pushup, gazing around the room, content rather than panicky.
That brings me to one of the most beautiful things about “attachment parenting,” which could be called responsive or connective parenting. You respect your baby’s unique temperament and ability to grow to independence on her own. You realize that she will grow out of the precious time of dependency on your closeness all too quickly. I mourned the loss of the Lille baby nap and at the same time that I welcomed new spans of time in which to make a cup of tea, talk to other people, give Nate a hug, etc.
I find the same thing happening with her night time sleeping. Sometimes I wake to her tossing her head, trying to find an unmoving and cool place on which to lay it. It’s then that I pick her up and put her in the co-sleeper with a little kiss and an “I love you.” She sighs or makes a little noise and rests her head peacefully. I can tell she likes it.
But when she was 2 months? We needed each other. She needed the closeness of her mother’s heartbeat, and I needed to know she was still breathing. I missed her, this baby I had carried for 9 months, and without her, I would lay in the darkness waiting for her to cry with worry in my heart. It was almost a relief when she cried. I welcomed getting to pick her up.
We are too quick to wish our children into independence. In fact, I find many parenting styles that are pushed on parents today pressure them into pushing their children into it before the fourth trimester is up.
“She’ll be spoiled if you hold her too much.”
“She’ll never learn to sleep on her own if you don’t stop sleeping with her.”
“He’s 10 months and still getting up to nurse? Why don’t you make him stop?”
Then when they are teenagers, we want just the opposite. Parents look back with fondness on the days their children wanted to snuggle, wanted connection, longed for closeness.
In the touching book “The No Cry Sleep Solution,” Elizabeth Pantley asks you to ask yourself if you mind that your baby sleeps with you, gets up to nurse more often than the neighbor’s baby, needs to be held and soothed in a baby carrier an hour or three a day. Many times, she points out, the Mother finds the answer is no. She doesn’t mind. She just feels like she is a failing Mother if she doesn’t get her baby to sleep through the night at 4 months or self-soothe to sleep on his or her own.
In the examples I’ve given, I find that Anneka is ready for the next step almost before I’m ready, or, at least, one part of me. And I expect that’s the way it will always be. She’ll say, “Mom, I can do this.” And I’ll say, “Okay, if you’re sure.” And I’ll watch her grow into a beautiful, strong young woman, rooted in the security of love and unhurried nurturing, knowing she was always welcome closeby.
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Dear Lisbeth Lehan,
Thank you for making the Lille Baby. I have an affectionate, sensitive 3 month old who’s had tummy trouble of one sort or another for most of her young life, but much of that changed when I got the Lille Baby.
Anneka barely could stay asleep for longer than an hour or two as a very young baby. I couldn’t figure out why, or why she would cry so hard at night and not be consoled. Then I learned she had acid reflux and colic, and it was best to keep her upright, among other things (the other things being smaller feedings, probiotics, herbal tummy medicine and more). This was pretty hard to do all the time. The first time I put her in a carrier, she slept for hours. She didn’t love sleeping in the carrier though, until I got the Lille Baby. Now she naps regularly in her Lille baby while I get to hear and feel her breathing and see her cute sleeping faces, and work while I do it, for hours a day. She became much calmer and happier the day I got the Lille Baby. I know part of it was the fact that she didn’t spit up when she was upright like that, and it was the best position for her to sleep in. But I think part of it was the closeness, too. I wonder how much colic is anxiety and how much it is digestive issues, or how much the two influence each other.
With her in the Lille Baby, I have brushed my teeth, blown out my hair, taken long walks, worked for hours, shopped, nursed my baby, and made breakfast. And when all else fails to calm her, I have gotten her to sleep in under 2 minutes in noisy, crowded environments that tend to overstimulate her.
She feels safe in it, I feel close to her, and I feel comfortable. It’s a win win. It changed both of our lives.
Many of my baby carrying friends have asked me about the differences between the Lille Baby and the Ergo Baby. I own both so here they are.
Infant Head Support
The Ergo Baby, even with the infant insert, and compared with the Lille Baby, has terrible head support. My baby used to throw her head back and then forward, not knowing where to rest it. The infant insert dishes out, slanting away from the wearer and the baby doesn’t know what to do with his or her head.
The Lille Baby has a soft 3 sided head support that simply wraps around the baby’s head in the position your baby’s head already naturally lays as you’re holding your baby to your chest, just beneath your chin. It’s a completely comfortable and natural position for baby and Mom or Dad.
You can fold this head support up or down. With the head support down, your baby’s neck rests against the fold, and still has minimal head support. It’s natural in this position for you to put one hand on baby’s head if baby needs you to while they look at the world or if you’re bouncing the baby.
Anneka in the Ergo Baby with Daddy. You can see the lack of head support, even though I love this picture:
Compared to the Lille Baby’s head support:
Anneka, during one of her many long naps:
And with the head support down:
Head Positioning – Ease of Doing Things in the Carriers
The Ergo baby positions the baby so that their head is higher than your chin. You can’t possibly eat in it, or drink anything. At least I couldn’t.
The Lille Baby positions my baby in a natural snuggling position, head on chest, turned to either side or even with baby’s chin and bottomlip resting against my chest.
Comfort of Carrier for Wearer
The Ergo Baby is really heavy and hot. The Lille Baby feels like absolutely nothing in comparison. It’s a featherweight.
The Ergo Baby wears on my shoulders and upper back after 1/2 hour or an hour.
The Lille Baby has an incredible lumbar support that makes wearing it for 3 hours a breeze.
Comfort for Baby
Anneka really feels like she’s in a contraption in the Ergo Baby and would take 5-10 minutes to settle down when I was attempting to soothe her.
The Lille Baby is more ergonomic. The baby is in a very natural position, exactly like you would hold her against your body with her little legs partially wrapping around your waist, her head on your chest.
Anneka has often fallen asleep in under 2 minutes in the Lille Baby. She can also gaze at the world and as she drifts off to sleep, I sneak the head support sides up, first one side, then the other.
I cannot nurse Anneka in the Ergo Baby.
Though it’s not my favorite thing to do in a baby carrier, I can nurse Anneka in the Lille Baby, and even use the weather cover for privacy.
Speaking of weather covers, the Ergo Baby doesn’t have one.
The Lille Baby does. And it tucks neatly away into a pocket.
Speaking of pockets, I keep my cell phone in the zippered pocket in the Lille Baby.
Length of Baby Naps
Anneka would last 1-2 hours napping in the Ergo Baby, and 1-3 in the Lille Baby.
Attractiveness and Cost
Bonus: the Lille Baby comes in many beautiful looks, and costs less (when compared to the carrier plus infant insert) than the Ergo Baby.
Weather cover up in noisy mall to help Anneka calm down after being so excited by all the lights and people and then getting hysterical: