So I and Anjana go back to the radio days which were almost a decade back and both never ever thought that we would be talking about kids and moms and our motherhood journey. But…here we are…read along to know more about Anjana and her babywearing journey with Soul.
So tell us something about yourself and your life in a small town.
I am Anjana, mom to Lishaan (4 years old) & Isha (2 years old). I was born and raised in Madras and recently moved cities with my family. I started my career as a radio jockey with Radio Mirchi hosting their prime drive time shows until I decided to take a break after 6 years of being on air. After working for a year as a Product Manager (South) for Sony Music international, I played around with another love of mine – writing; I took up freelance writing jobs and slowly shifted gears. This worked perfectly fine as my son was born around that time and I could work at my comfort.
The shift from Madras to Coimbatore to Theni has been a fantastic one. Away from the buzz of city life, we live in a lovely open spaced home that has a lot of fresh air, greenery, and nature to boast about. Weekends are spent picnicking with family in the lush fields around and life is slow and beautiful; something that the kids might have missed if they had been raised in a fast-moving city like Madras.
How did you get introduced to babywearing?
Babywearing was a major discovery in my parenting journey. I remember talking to a friend about cloth diapers and she suggested I also check out this other support group on Facebook that had a unique approach to attachment parenting and worked brilliantly for families in the nuclear set up.
Lishaan was about 3 months old when I first got around to ‘wearing’ him in a carrier. It was my grandmother’s saree that became our first wrap. Then, an aunt of mine from the US visiting us on a holiday, gifted us our first SSC (Soft Structured Carrier). From there on, there was no looking back. Being by myself, it was easier to get my son to nap, to soothe him after vaccinations and to enjoy outings and dinners without stress.
We have been told that you have worn both your kids…tell us something more about it…
Yes, that’s right. I have carried both Lishaan and Isha in carriers for quite some time. With Lishaan, I carried him even through my second pregnancy. It was comfortable and at the same time, provided the much-needed bond between us before the baby came in.
I started carrying Isha in a ring sling from the 6th day of her birth. It is a transformational experience to have your hands free to continue with day to day activities with your kid (s) without the tension of handling a newborn in a rocker or stroller. So much so, that I even danced carrying my son on my back, as part of a flash mob during World Breastfeeding Week 2015 in Coimbatore, when I was 6 months pregnant. I cannot imagine a flight, a holiday or a day at the mall without my carriers. I probably am one of those moms who is living examples of babywearing being a lifesaver!
Did your kids take instantly to babywearing? Did you have to struggle?
We did have our struggles in terms of the kind of carriers that my kids preferred. Lishaan loved the wraps. He never took to Meh Dais until he was older. With Isha, she loved the ring slings and SSCs right from birth.
It was around when she was born that Soul had released the AnoonA. We were super kicked to have been part of the testing process of that carrier. It still is one of my favorite carriers around. What I tell any parent sets out to try babywearing is that there isn’t ONE carrier that can work for everybody. Even with my kids, each one prefers a different kind of carrier. So, it’s good to try all carrier types and settle for one or two favorites.
Are you comfortable when traveling with children while babywearing and what do you do to make it work?
There was a time when I couldn’t imagine traveling without a carrier (or two) in hand. I even had a backup carrier or a plain cotton saree ready at mom’s place just in case I needed it. Like I mentioned earlier, ours being a nuclear set up, I got around to traveling with both my kids often on my own. We used to flights regularly between cities and the only way I survived about 20 such trips, was carrying either one or both of my kids in carriers. It makes airport check-ins, rolling suitcases and last minute runs very doable.
There were instances when the kids being kids wouldn’t comply to being carried in a baby carrier. Those were slightly difficult to manage initially, but with little homework, I figured what carrier kept them comfortable, how to keep them from jumping out from carriers (teether toys, finger food) and how not to struggle with two carriers not getting in the way of the kids. (I largely used an Onbuhimo for my older kid and a ring sling for the younger one)
Would you say you are a fan of a certain wrap or fabric or carrier? If yes…why?
I am a huge fan of wraps; especially linen ones. If you ask me to go with ONE carrier type for the rest of the babywearing journey, I would pick a wrap because it is versatile and adaptable. What made me fall for wraps was the fact that it tests your muscle memory. There are so many interesting carries that one can try and even finishes that add a fancy look to the carry. Wraps come in many comfortable sizes and can even double up as ‘no-sew’ ring slings at times. Personally, wraps were a great way to make my kids love babywearing even more and there were times when just to challenge myself, I used to join wrapping challenges with wrappers around the world. Linen is my choice of wrap fabric, because it is cool on the skin and cooler to touch. It also has this nature that requires you to pay attention to your wrap job and work on every strand of the wrap.
What message would you like to give new moms about babywearing?
Something that I share with all parents/caregivers looking to start babywearing is that is a great option for a relaxed parenting journey. There are many options of carrier types, fabrics and brands available.
It would be best for the family to try out carriers available and pick what works for them. The babywearing scene in India has gone global in the past few years. It’s easy to access some of the best babywearing brands right in the city you live in. All you have to do is connect with other babywearing parents or reach out a babywearing library that will help you find a suitable carrier.
I must add that babywearing has become a cost-effective and storage friendly option to carry your child, with both genders of parents finding it easy to use. In a world where prams, portable car seats and strollers are a must while heading out shopping with newborns and little babies, babywearing has come in as quite a welcome change.
Tell us something about your association/experience with Soul Slings?
I must begin by telling you that Soul has been an absolutely delightful experience for me, both as a babywearing mother and as a social media consultant. When I started babywearing there were about two or three Indian made brands available. What made Soul stand out was their eye for design and pocket-friendly prices. I remember drooling over their Kalamkari series of ring slings at one point in time. Slowly as I started building my stash, (yes! That’s term ;)), I got to interact more closely with the people at Soul. Chinmayie was super easy to talk to and helped me quite a bit during the initial days.
One thing led another and my growing interest in trying out new carrier types got me connected to them. As a Soul team member, I started hosting Soul meets in my city (Coimbatore). This was where people could come and experience Soul carriers (both released and unreleased) first hand. They could come get fit checks done or even learn how to use a carrier before purchasing it. This opened up a flood gate of sorts. Many new parents got hooked onto babywearing. I was also in charge of the carrier library for Soul in Coimbatore, which was a one of a kind arrangement that allowed parents to use baby carriers on a rental before they invested in one. From there, Soul moved me up to handling social media for them which was a huge learning experience. I picked up the nuances of brand positioning and international audience thanks to Soul. Soul is largely a women-led team with moms holding the front. This was a huge reason for me to love Soul. They would understand toddler meltdowns, vaccination schedules, and even prenatal appointments and would be accommodating about it. Being the biggest babywearing brand from India, Soul definitely knows what works best for parents and how to make that happen economically too!
Though I don’t carry my children in a carrier regularly these days, my linen SSC and a ring sling are always part of my suitcase when we travel. Babywearing made my 10 holiday in Singapore a breeze with us taking the metro, buses and enjoying every bit of Singaporean life on foot! As I jokingly tell many of my friends, I would have another baby just to carry snugly in a baby carrier! 😉
Keep on Babywearing