LaKeta Kemp is a Tempe, Arizona babywearing mama who swears by babywearing. She has a 15-year-old daughter and two twin 13-month-old daughters who have all benefited from babywearing at some point. LaKeta says that she feels like an ambassador for babywearing, and so makes the time to share her insights with other twin moms via educational videos at Tandem Trouble on YouTube, and offers support through Tandem Trouble’s Facebook community page. Savvy Every Day asked LaKeta to share some of her personal babywearing experiences and know-how through a quick Q&A. Keep reading to learn how she went from babywearing beginner to the leader she is today.
Q: When did you first start babywearing?
LaKeta: I wore my eldest daughter, now 15, in a ring sling and SSC (soft structured carrier), like an Ergo. I couldn’t afford an actual Ergo but the one I had did the job well.
Q: What was the first wrap you purchased?
LaKeta: My first woven wrap was purchased a few months after my twins, now 13 months, were born. I was carrying them both and pushing a grocery cart at the same time thinking there has to be a better way. I looked into two ring slings at once and noticed the woman doing so in the YouTube video looked as if she were being strangled. Finally, I stumbled onto a video of a young woman performing Amanda’s Tandem Hip Carry and knew that was what I needed. I researched every night after the babies were asleep and found Ellevill. My first woven wrap was an Ellevill Gaia Rainbow, size 7.
Q: How many carriers or wraps do you have now?
LaKeta: I have a small addiction now. I own one Ellevill, one Toto Wraps stretchy, 4 woven Toto Wraps (including one the owner named for me), two DIY Mei Tei, and one Maya Wrap ring sling. I also have two Kanga cloths which are the traditional carriers used by women all over East Africa.
Q: How do you feel about babywearing?
LaKeta: I think of myself as an ambassador for babywearing. As a twin mom we get ogled everywhere we go. When babywearing, it becomes an insatiable question session. I think of how much I wished I had someone tell me this when the babies were weeks old and I share my experiences as often as I can. If babywearing were a cult, I would be an awesome leader — I’ve inducted at least a dozen more babywearers in the last year getting them to the Babywearing International of Phoenix meetings and introducing all sorts of new carriers and carries.
Q: What are some reactions you got when you first started babywearing, and what reactions do you get now?
LaKeta: At first it was irritating how often people would stop me and ask questions. Then I remember how useful it would have been if I knew earlier about tandem carries. Now I love to stop and answer questions, comment on the theories that my back must ache, and deflect statements about having my hands full. I am actually hands free!
Q: Do you have a favorite babywearing moment?
LaKeta: My girls fussed for the last half hour of a plane flight [and] the flight staff wouldn’t let me wear them in my woven on flight because it wasn’t an approved restraint device. As soon as the seatbelt sign went off after landing I hopped up and wrapped in the Tandem Hip Carry in the row we were seated. It took two minutes and they were calm and cuddling. Sitting in my lap just wasn’t close enough!
Q: What’s your favorite thing about babywearing for you and you little ones?
LaKeta: I love how close they are. I wrap them when they’re sick or sleepy and can’t get comfortable. I wrap every day: Cooking, laundry, this email . . . anytime is a good time to be close.
Q: What are your tips for someone new to the world of babywearing?
LaKeta: Research at a babywearing meeting before you buy. Rent a carrier before buying, [because] some are expensive and [they] all feel different. You’ll like different ones for different carries and some will be your go-to when baby is sick versus errands or shopping.
A special thanks to LaKeta Kemp for taking the time to share her babywearing journey with Navigating Parenthood readers.