Parenting can be a handful...
With a baby in tow, 'hands free' is more important than ever and baby wearing frees up your hands while safely snuggling your baby against your body. The right baby wearing sling can be a comfortable option for you and your baby while supporting your little ones delicate joints.
Some baby wearing options fit similar to a front facing backpack with clips and over the shoulder straps, while others are more like a scarf wrapped strategically around the mother's body. Criteria when choosing how you'll wear your baby should include:
- Support for your baby's spine, neck and hips
- Comfort on the wearers back and shoulders
The only way to find out what works best for you is to try different styles to see what you're most comfortable with. Every parent's preferences are different when it comes to baby wearing, so don't be nervous to test a variety of brands to find the perfect fit for you and baby.
Benefits of Baby wearing
Aside from freeing up your hands, baby wearing provides a variety of benefits for you and your little one. It's been recently proven that babies carried regularly throughout the day are more content and cry less! Sound appealing?! Many parents use baby wearing as a technique to relax their baby before naps and bed time. Wearing your baby close can also improve their physical health. Premature babies can have fragile immune systems and skin-to-skin contact can help stimulate their development. Wearing premature babies close in a carrier keeps them close to their mother's comforting scent, heartbeat and voice.
Baby wearing also can help parents be 'in tune' with their baby's movements, gestures, expressions and cues. Baby wearing parents have said they feel more confident in their first few months postpartum. Holding your baby close is not only convenient but also a powerful tool for a baby's psychological and emotional development.
Drawbacks of Baby Wearing
Although baby wearing is incredibly popular and has multiple benefits for infants, there's also some drawbacks to consider. Depending on the carrier and position, babies can be at risk for suffocation, dislocation of limbs and potential falls. Some product manufacturers and health officials don't recommend using baby carriers for newborns or premature babies, because of their size. Small babies are often difficult to position correctly in the sling, causing them to slouch uncomfortably and block their airways. Always use carriers in accordance to the product recommendation for safest results.
For parents, some carriers can be uncomfortable on the back, neck and shoulders. Some parents even find slings to be psychologically uncomfortable and become afraid their baby might slip out of the sling. Parents should also be careful of wearing their babies in situations that might be dangerous. Serious accidents from cooking, spilling hot beverages and slips and falls have caused serious and unfortunate consequences.
Highly Recommended Baby Carriers
There are some innovative products on the market for parents that are interested in baby wearing.
The three types of baby carriers can be identified as slings, wraps and structured (carriers). There are many different carriers on the market and although some can come at a steep cost, the safety of your baby is always worth the extra expense.
The Moby Wrap
This is a popular choice for parents that are looking for some added flexibility in their wrap. This wrap is one long piece of jersey fabric that can be adjusted to suit any size baby or body type. It can take a little practice to arrange the wrap properly, however the baby can be easily repositioned inside the wrap while remaining secure. It's comfortable and distributes the infant's weight in an "X" shape on the parent's back. Once you practice tying this wrap a few times, you'll be able to do it blindfolded! It is a comfortable way to support your baby bundle.
Ergobaby Carrier 360
This structured carrier is better suited to older babies that can support their own head and neck or sit up on their own. This style comfortably sits on the parent's shoulders and features safety straps to keep your little one secure. This is a particularly awesome model of carrier because the baby can be positioned to look safely outward and take in some scenery while you're out and about. The waistband on this carrier is adjustable to fit around the parent's body, but many find it to be restricting. Another drawback of structured carriers is breathability, making it uncomfortable for your baby in warmer weather.
Baby Tula- Ring Sling
Ring slings are beautiful carriers. These hold your baby a little closer to your side, with fabric secured across your body and fitted with a metal "O" ring. These slings are comfortable and cradle the baby in an upright hammock position. Some parents report finding this sling a bit uncomfortable for smaller babies, feeling that their little one isn't secure enough in the carrier.
Baby wearing can be an incredible experience for parents and babies when equipped with the right carrier and safety knowledge.
If you're interested in finding the right baby carrier for you, we can help! Contact your doula team for some carrier suggestions and more pros and cons of the different types available.