Babywearing—the act of holding your baby close in a carrier—is an idea that has been around for centuries. However, for several decades in the 20th century it had fallen out of style to wear your child, and most women dropped the habit.
Fortunately, babywearing is back, and the popularity of toting your little one around in a sling or wrap has once again become the thing to do, and rightfully so.
— Why You Should Babywear —
There are many benefits that wearing your child can provide, which means that the return of the carrier is a very positive thing. Some of the positives you and your child may experience during your babywearing years include:
Children who are held often have a stronger attachment to their parents. Additionally, worn babies tend to fuss much less than those who are put down more often, and the communication between mother and worn child is much stronger.
For instance, a baby who is being carried by her mother need only exhibit the slightest cues of hunger for the mother to see what she is feeling and begin nursing. Meanwhile, a child who has been set down in a crib might need to resort to crying before her hunger is recognized.
Being a parent often has you running from place to place and doing chores with no end in sight. A fussy newborn, teething baby, or toddler who is feeling under the weather can make it very difficult to keep up with all the things that must be done around the house. While it would be nice to be able to sit on the couch and snuggle our little ones all day every day, we all know that isn’t very realistic.
Wearing your child can give them the comfort they need while still leaving your hands free to get things done. When the work is finished, be sure to take baby out of the carrier and get in some quality snuggle time though.
— How to Babywear —
With the positive sides of babywearing noted, it’s important that we also address the potential problems and dangers of babywearing so that they can be avoided and your babywearing experience can be just a magical as possible.
Below are a few of the things you will want to watch out for and avoid when using a carrier to hold your little one. By following these simple guidelines, you will be able to wear your child safely and without concern.
When positioning your baby in your carrier, you’ll need to consider their ability to breathe. Airways should never be blocked, and the baby should never be allowed to slip down into the fabric of the carrier. Additionally, wearing a coat over the child is a big no-no. Lastly, it is important to ensure that your baby has their chin up and not down against their chest.
Mind the Weight
Every carrier has a weight limit. When you are shopping for a carrier of your own, be sure to take note of any weight limits and keep them in mind as your child grows. A child who exceeds the weight limit on a carrier, but is carried in it anyway, is in danger of being dropped.
Snug as a Bug
When wearing your baby, it is important to make sure they are snug inside the carrier and won’t slip down into the carrier or out the bottom. The sling, wrap, or structured carrier should be worn with baby as high up as possible, and it should always be easy to bend your neck and kiss the top of your little one’s head. Additionally, your child’s back—and if you have a newborn, their head—should be well supported.
You should be able to achieve all of this by carefully following the instructions that come with your carrier. However, if you have trouble, be sure to find a support group or knowledgeable person in your area to help you position your child safely.
Check Your Carrier
Make it a point to take a good look at your carrier on a regular basis. Check for signs of wear, as well as broken or missing parts. You baby’s safety should never be compromised by a worn or broken carrier.
— What to Babywear With —
Now that you know the benefits of wearing your little guy or girl, as well as the safest way to do it, let’s talk a few of the various types of carriers and the pros and cons of each.
Slings can be sized or adjustable and are one of the simplest forms of baby wearing out there. If you plan on going the sling route, the adjustable “ring sling” version is generally the easiest route for first time sling users. However, a properly fitted sized sling can work just as well, and is preferred by some mamas.
Slings are great for quick trips to the store or back, as they are fast and easy to put on. They are also one of the easiest carriers to nurse in, making them ideal for younger babies who want to nurse regularly.
- Pros: quick and easy
- Cons: sized versions can be hard to fit properly
Though there is definitely a learning curve involved, wrapping is a wonderful way to wear a baby. With all the wrapping methods out there, you will likely find one you love, and it will the extra effort well worthwhile.
If you would like to learn to wrap your little one, but you are intimidated by the process, you can begin by visiting a store that carries wraps, asking a local mama, or watching videos online. Try using a doll for practice until you figure out how to wrap the fabric in just the right way.
- Pros: versatile
- Cons: learning curve
Soft Structured Carrier
The soft structured carrier is ideal for wear outdoors or during very involved activities. It is generally the easiest to work with and adjust for comfort, especially for those just learning how to wear their little ones.
It is important to note however, that an infant insert may be needed in order to provide newborns with the head and neck support they need.
- Pros: easy to adjust; good for active times
- Cons: may need an infant insert; all carriers to not fit all people well
— Who to Ask About Babywearing —
Hopefully this article provided you with the information you need to get started on your babywearing journey. If you have questions or you would simply like to try a variety of carriers on for size, please contact our retail partner The Changing Table in Oklahoma City today. The Changing Table hosts regular classes on babywearing as well!