Babywearing is the practice of keeping your baby or toddler close and connected to you as you engage in daily activities through the use of one of a variety of types of baby carriers. It is a traditional practice in many cultures that is not widely used by modern industrialized societies, but it nonetheless has many benefits for both children and caregivers. Babywearing promotes bonding, supports breastfeeding, can help combat postpartum depression, makes caregiving easier, and can be a lifesaver for parents of high-needs children.

Breastfeeding can be, and often is, challenging and complex, requiring a significant amount of information to successfully meet personal goals and ensure appropriate growth and development of infants. Participation in breastfeeding education has been proven to increase initiation and duration rates of breastfeeding. The Health Department of Northwest Michigan received funds to provide every mother who attends Otsego County’s prenatal breastfeeding class an infant carrier.

The Baby Wearing Incentive Program was created to support and incentivize local families for participating in breastfeeding education. More young families are attending the Health Department of Northwest Michigan’s breastfeeding class in Otsego County since the Community Foundation’s Elaine Nowicki Awesome Fund and Lampert Family Fund generously donated funds for the infant carriers.

“Qualifying Otsego County families leave the class with information and support about breastfeeding, as well as a beautiful gift promoting healthy parent and child bonding. Being part of the journey into parenthood, whether it be the first, second or fifth child is an opportunity to promote positive health outcomes in our community. With the help of the Otsego Community Foundation, the Health Department of Northwest Michigan is seeing the health benefits first hand as we welcome our newest community members and support their parents.” – Ellen Templeton, Breastfeeding Peer Counselor

“As a new parent, receiving the infant carrier was a huge relief and a checkmark on the forever growing ‘needs’ list. It’s something I know we will use for many months to come as we have already used it tons. Such an amazing and practical gift to receive!” – Liz Squanda and baby Haidyn

“I absolutely love my breastfeeding meetings. Meeting a lactation consultant at breastfeeding class made me more comfortable to reach out after I had my daughter. I wasn’t sure at first about taking a class, but now that my daughter is 14 weeks and still breastfeeding, I’m so glad I went.” – Class participant

“The Breastfeeding Counselor at the Health Department is one of the reasons I kept breastfeeding. She was the best support when I was ready to give up! I wish more moms knew about and took advantage of this support.” – Class participant

“The moms I’m seeing before they deliver are reporting they are not only very excited about the infant carrier they received at class, but that they learned a lot about breastfeeding they did not know previously. These women leave class feeling appreciated when they receive such a special gift. Not everyone has a baby shower and reminding our moms-to-be that they, and their growing family, are loved and supported is important in keeping families healthy.” – Public Health Nurse