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Babywearing, whether wraps or slings, can boost bonding, free parents’ hands

Kelly Peraino 35 uses Moby Wrap for baby Rose which she said provides closeness they both enjoy.
 Jane Donahue/For Sun-Times

Kelly Peraino, 35, uses a Moby Wrap for baby Rose, which she said provides a closeness they both enjoy. Jane Donahue/For Sun-Times Media/20131030 Wednesday, Chicago

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Where to find them

With the many options available, it’s easy to get carried away. Here’s a few Chicago area boutiques that can help.

Be By Baby (1654 W. Roscoe, 773- 404-2229, A variety of slings, wraps and carriers are offered at Be By Baby, including Ergobaby, Catbird Baby, Zolowear, Moby Wrap, Wrap N Wear and Hoppediz. Not sure which is best? They are all available to try, and you can add a weighted “sling baby” to simulate what it will be like. They also offer free babywearing classes that teach the various ways to bond with your baby in a carrier safely.

Bellybum Boutique (4347 N. Lincoln, 773- 868-0944, Find wraps, carriers and slings that include Moby Wrap, Blue Celery Organic, Baby K’tan, Beco and Ergobaby. The focus here is on the ergonomics of babywearing and helping parents “healthfully carry” their little one.

Giggle Chicago (2116 N.Halsted, (773) 296-6228, Offers a variety of babywearing options, including BabyBjorn, Moby Wrap and Ergobaby. From the basic sling to a carrier with all the bells and whistles, Giggle associates can help you find one that is just right. — Jane Donahue

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Updated: November 13, 2013 7:14PM

When Kelly Peraino is on the move, 15-week-old Rose is along for the ride, snuggled in with mom in a Moby Wrap infant carrier. It’s a logical choice for the Rogers Park resident.

“I have found babywearing to be easy and natural,” Peraino said. “We both enjoy the closeness it provides.”

She’s not alone.

Babywearing has been around for centuries, and with good reason. Besides providing an obvious way to connect with your little one, there are benefits to babywearing that go beyond baby.

“Babywearing helps with bonding in a number of ways,” said Dr. Heidi Renner, pediatrician at Loyola University Health System. “It helps a mom be physically close to the baby, and because of that, she learns to read the baby’s cues, she’s aware of the baby’s movements and gestures and can be more in tune with her baby’s needs.”

And the bonding goes both ways.

“In general, babies are happy when they are carried,” Renner said. “They are close to their caregiver, they can hear their voice and heartbeat, sense their smell and touch. It also provides a constant motion, which soothes them as well.”

So whether it’s a sling or wrap, worn on your front or back, here are just a few reasons Chicago parents are getting carried away with baby carriers.

Help dads connect

Moms carry the baby for nine months, and now it’s time for the dads.

“Babywearing is a big benefit, especially for dads of infants who are breastfed,” said Renner. “It provides an opportunity for dads to have special time alone with the baby, and also provides an opportunity for them to soothe the baby.”

Beth Leistensnider, owner of Catbird Baby, a Chicago-based designer and manufacturer of baby carriers, shared the sentiment.

“For fathers, it is an excellent way to bond with their son or daughter at a time when so much focus is often on the mother-baby relationship,” Leistensnider said. “Babywearing is great because it gives us a comfortable and convenient way to meet baby’s expectations of being carried upright against their parents’ bodies.”

Lend a hand

Babywearers go hands-free, and it has nothing to do with cellphones.

“With my hands free, I feel confident and efficient doing everyday tasks while keeping my baby close,” Peraino said.

While a baby is enjoying the benefits of being nestled in, parents have the opportunity to do other things, like tend to another child, grab a snack or even hold hands with a partner.

An added benefit: Babywearing keeps well-meaning strangers at bay. Yes, the baby is adorable, but it’s healthier for passersby to keep their hands to themselves.

Navigate busy sidewalks

It’s not easy to navigate through crowded streets with a stroller, which is just one of the many reasons babywearing is appealing to North Wicker Park resident Danielle Koschil.

“It has definitely allowed me to be closer to my babies and to get out more,” said the mother of two. “Living in the city does not bode well for strollers.”

Brie Zdenek agrees, saying babywearing helps make running errands with a baby much easier.

“The carrier is good for any kind of shopping really,” said Zdenek, whose daughter Brinn was born in May. “And when I would go to the Lincoln Park farmers market, it was great because it’s pretty crowded and would be hard to grab what you need while pushing a stroller.”

Zdenek added that babywearing allows her to exercise or simply enjoy a city stroll, without the need for a stroller. Good for mom, good for baby.

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