Babywearing is the wonderful and highly convenient practice of keeping your baby close to you by wearing them in one of several different types of carriers. Although babywearing is a traditional and age-old practice in many cultures around the world, it has only recently begun to catch on in the US due to its many benefits to both mom and baby. To learn more about the great benefits of babywearing, check out Eight Reasons to Wear Your Baby. If you are planning to wear your new baby during any stage of his younger years, it is important to educate yourself on the principles of safe babywearing. Here are some tips for ensuring that your baby is secure and comfortable in the carrier.
- Choose a carrier that is ergonomic. There are many different types of baby carriers from soft structured carriers and Asian style carriers, to woven wraps, stretchy wraps, and ring slings.
- Ensure that you use proper ergonomic positioning for the carrier you choose to make sure that baby is in the safest and most supportive position.
- Although it is normal for babies to fuss the first couple times you try a new carrier, choose a time of day when baby is well rested and happy for his maiden voyage.
- Ensure that baby’s airway is open at all times.
- Keep baby in an upright position, high on your body so that you can easily monitor breathing.
- Infants should only be placed in a cradled position if necessary to nurse and should then immediately be returned to the upright position upon finishing.
- Carefully inspect new and used carriers before use. Check for areas of worn fabric, tears, weak spots, loose stitching, broken buckles, undone hems and any other structural flaws that may make the carrier unsafe. It is also important to choose carriers from reputable manufacturers to ensure that they will be compliant with US safety standards.
- Choose a carrier that provides ample support for your baby’s back and neck.
- Your baby should be held with his knees higher than his bottom and with his legs in a spread squat position, with support spanning from knee to knee. Full knee to knee support becomes less possible and necessary as your baby ages and becomes a toddler.
- Practice common sense when wearing. If you wouldn’t carry your baby in your arms while doing the activity (i.e.: riding in a car, boat, kayak, or bike) then don’t wear your baby in those scenarios.
- Practice all carries with someone to spot you or over a bed, couch or low to the ground soft surface. Do not use carries, such as back carries, that you have not confidently mastered. Seeking out a babywearing group is a great way to educate yourself on different types of carriers and carries and to get helpful instruction from babywearing educators and other moms.
- Support baby’s head if you bend over while wearing him in a carrier.
- Choose an age appropriate carrier. Stretchy wraps, for instance, are wonderful for cuddly newborn carries but do not provide adequate support for bigger babies. You should also be able to try a variety of types of baby carriers through your local babywearing group who often have lending libraries.
- Ensure that your carrier is snuggly fitted to you and your baby. Your baby should not be able to slump down in the carrier and you should not feel unnecessary pressure on your back.
- Close enough to kiss: You often hear the phrase, “close enough to kiss,” in the babywearing world used as a good measure of positioning. You should be able to reach your baby’s head effortlessly to give them a kiss if they are in the proper position.
- You should always be able to see your baby’s face. The fabric of the carrier should never be pulled over baby’s face so that you need to pull it back to see him.
- Keep baby’s chin off his chest. This restricts airflow and can make breathing difficult for your baby. As mentioned above, baby should be carried in an upright position and there should be at least a finger width of space in between their chin and neck.
When done correctly, babywearing is an extremely safe and comfortable practice for both the caregiver and the baby. There are so many benefits to wearing your baby from bonding and breastfeeding promotion, to freeing up your hands to do things around the home all while making your baby feel safe and secure. Education on safe babywearing is essential before using a baby carrier and can be easily sought through your local babywearing group. Check out Babywearing International to learn more about your local chapter. You can also contact us at Health Foundations with any questions regarding baby care.