GUEST POST: TaiLeah Madill is Carrying On Tradtions in her family

I came to babywearing as naturally as one can; by being a child who was worn. I was blessed to have grown up in a family that challenged the current parenting styles. My mom saw the benefit to wearing her babies and my dad jumped right on board. She was the trailblazer, not just in her family, by in my dad’s family as well. Growing up, my dad’s brothers and their wives joined in and we were a home birthing, cloth diapering, babywearing, extended breastfeeding tribe. This is what I grew up watching and seeing as normal. Not only did I have my parents to watch and learn from, but all around me at birthdays, parties, holidays, and really any family occasion I saw my sisters and cousins being carried and worn and parented in such a way that I never really thought it was a different way to do things. Family friends even joined in on the carrying on occasion. 

As I grew up and thought about having kids and parenting, my parents, aunts, and uncles set the foundation for wanting to keep my own babies close. I researched long before getting married, long before having kids, those things that were most appealing. I perused the older copies of Mothering that my mom had gotten when I was born. Smiling, happy babies just have that kind of draw for a young adult who knows that she wants to have a family of her own some day.  You just want to snuggle up to such love and affection pouring from those photos. I bought Over the Shoulder Baby Holder slings for my friends who were pregnant, introducing them to babywearing as a tool of parenting. I was so excited to get to join that group, but I wasn’t there yet, so I shared my love of babywearing and my limited knowledge at that point as best I could with those that were embarking on the journey I longed to begin.

While, I may have had an unusual upbringing in that babywearing was a part of the fabric of family life to me, over the course of 25 years carriers had changed! They had expanded and grown and diversified. When it was finally my turn to try and walk my talk with my own child, I had no idea where to start. The sheer number of websites and styles and advice was overwhelming. In true human fashion, I fell back on what I knew, ring slings. Ring slings were the carriers I most remembered from watching my family wear their children; although they also used frame backpack style when hiking and camping, I was looking for more around the house type of a carrier. Ring slings were also what I remember playing with to carry my dolls and stuffed animals. I can even remember my sister dressing up one year for Halloween as a mom, complete with baby in a sling. I had bought Over the Shoulder Baby Holder slings for my friends over the years, but came across Taylormade Ring Slings during one of my numerous internet explorations. She was also local which was a bonus to me and made it that much more important to try and buy from her business. I think I even went so far as to point out all the local places that you could find things for me, outside of big box stores, on my shower invites. So enters my first carrier, a Taylormade blue stretch cotton ring sling.

Among the many things I was trying to figure out that I needed for my first baby, were cloth diapers. This led me to another local business, Wildflower Diapers. I loved it! I made an appointment for a cloth diaper class for me and my husband, Toby. I was already sold on doing cloth diapers but wanted to get more info for my hubby. The great thing about the class was that there was a store, teeny, a couple of offices really, store that I could go to and touch and try and ask questions about anything they sold and talk to someone, get them to help me learn how to do these things I was so excited to do. I bought my diapers; I came back for more sharing with these wonderful women who were living the dream – cloth diapers, babywearing, some even got to bring their babies with them to work! While there, I saw their carrier options and asked about the employees favorites. So enters Ergo in my knowledge of carriers.

Shortly after my son’s birth, my husband and I decided that I wouldn’t return to the job I had had before, but that I would try and find something that didn’t require me leaving my child in someone else’s care most of the week, maybe even becoming a stay-at-home mom. Opportunity arises when we least expect it sometimes and I thought I would try and join this group of women working at Wildflower Diapers. I could share my love and passion for parenting with those interested in learning more. I joined Wildflower Diapers and my journey into the sea of babywearing knowledge, and lots more, began. I brought my nine week old son, Miles with me to work, wearing him in the ring sling I had. He grew fast and gained weight, just like little babes do. As I wore him and did the normal daily tasks of working in a retail store, his weight started to wear on me. With the long periods of carrying, my shoulders were sore; and I had to switch sides a lot. Another employee and fellow mama and baby combo was Marissa and her son Peyton. They were a joy to watch, especially in learning how to manage working and caring for a child at the same time. Peyton was also no light weight, and I took comfort in their successful babywearing that it could be done and it could be more comfortable than it was. Their carrier of choice? An Ergo.  I wanted it. It seemed like the Mercedes of carriers. A ring sling was great, functional, and useful but was a bit more strain as it was just on one shoulder; while an Ergo had pockets, buckles, padding, and bore the weight on both shoulders and waist! I wanted it, did I mention that? My father-in-law had been happily joining me in my journey down this attachment parenting road over the course of my pregnancy and early parenthood. It was not always familiar territory to him but he reveled in my enthusiasm for it. He saw my desire for an Ergo and made that wish a reality, complete with infant insert. Ergo became my second carrier to own, and by far the one that I have used the most. 

As my baby grew, I learned more about the carrier options and the terminology to babywearing. Then I met one of the most amazing women I know, Susan Chanse. She had three boys and wrapped like I had never seen it done before in person. She made mothering and working look so effortless and easy and worthwhile. It was truly a blessing to get to know her and her family. She provided one of the star parenting mamas on which to help me grow in my own journey. Through her love and dedication to babywearing, its safety, and knowledge of how-tos; I really blossomed into my own knowledge and was able to really assist new parents (new to parenthood or just babywearing) with their own journeys, hopefully sharing the love and excitement babywearing can bring to their lives. I finally felt comfortable with that, usually, most intimidating of carriers – a wrap. I knew that when I had another baby I wanted to try a stretch wrap.

When my son was almost three, Toby and I welcomed our second child, a daughter named Quinn. With her, I used the ring sling I had with Miles for the first couple of weeks. The ease of use to a ring sling is hard to beat. I also learned that babywearing is so much more valuable and important in your life when you have more than one child. Wearing Quinn allowed me to be present and accessible to Miles, our daily routine had little interruption in terms of how much he could have me hold him and play with him as he needed to. I transitioned to a Wrapsody stretch wrap for longer outings within a week or so, and moved to that carrier full time by three weeks old. It was such a blessing to feel her so snug and secure against my chest and to have both arms free and mobile to make lunch or pick up toys. There were also times I wore both Miles and Quinn. I would put Quinn in the wrap on my front and Miles in the Ergo on my back. What a workout! But it let them both know I was there, allowed us to get done what we needed to (like getting food from the grocery store), and gave them both the space to calm down and center if things got crazy.

Following in her brother’s footsteps, she came to work with me at a new store similar to Wildflower Diapers. I wore her in the stretch wrap and many times had customers realize about halfway through their shopping trip that I had a baby wrapped on me. I think that I sold 4 wrapsody stretch wraps that first week alone. The Wrapsody stretch wrap is hands-down my favorite way to wear a newborn. I continued to share the babywearing love through my work at the store and just being there, wearing my little one day after day.

When Quinn was about 18 months old, I took the plunge and chose to be a stay-at-home mom. Shortly thereafter, I found out I was expecting baby #3. But I couldn’t sit back and not be out there sharing my passion for babywearing and the joy it can bring. I had been a part of Babywearing International of Phoenix almost from the beginning so I decided to step up my commitment to them and donate my time and knowledge as a Volunteer Babywearing Educator. My hope is to spread the babywearing love and show parents that this is an amazing tool to have in your parenting arsenal; no matter what other parenting choices you make, babywearing can assist with bonding and development at any stage. I truly couldn’t imagine parenting without babywearing. I hope to be able to wear my grandkids one day, the way my parents do now. That my love of babywearing shines through with everyone I help and they find their own paths down this amazing road, with baby snuggled close.


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About BWI of Phoenix

The Phoenix, AZ chapter of Babywearing International meets several times a month at various locations throughout the Valley. There is a lending library from which members can check out different styles and brands of carriers. Visitors to the meeting are welcome to try on and receive instruction on those carriers from our Volunteer Babywearing Educators. BWI Phoenix strives to educate and encourage parents and caregivers in carrying their babies and children. Each of the volunteers believes that babywearing promotes bonding, learning and growing together. You can join BWIP at any meeting for just $30/year (tax-deductible) and take advantage of member benefits, which include being able to borrow any carrier in our library for up to a month at a time.

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