Babywearing: you either love it or you don’t. From the experience I’ve had working retail with baby carriers, most moms who came in with negative attitudes regarding babywearing had purchased a carrier that was very uncomfortable for them to wear. Their babies “didn’t like it at all and wouldn’t even stay in it” and often the carriers hurt their backs and necks. I would frown and nod sympathetically, and then I would share advice that ended up changing their world:
“Did you know that not all carriers work well or fit the same?”
Not everyone loves the same jeans for the same reason that not everyone loves the same carrier: they fit differently depending on your body type. I have a large bust and a short torso, and for me, Líllébaby has been my favorite and most comfortable soft structured carrier (and I’ve tried several brands to compare). My friend who has a long torso and who is thin loves her Ergo. My friend who has a longer torso and is busty loves her Tula. My husband who has a long torso and a medium build loves the Líllébaby. My friend who has an average torso and a large bust loves her Beco. My point is: carriers are like a piece of clothing; you have to find out which one fits your body best in order for it to be comfortable, and if your carrier doesn’t keep your baby close enough to your center of gravity, it will pull on your neck and back and be very uncomfortable for you to wear. Baby should be snug and close to your body and should not be able to lean out and away.
Also, the oldest brands of carriers aren’t necessarily the best brands of carriers. I say this because the carrier not only has to fit your body well; it needs to fit your baby’s body well too. If the baby isn’t comfortable, he’s going to cry. What do we think when a baby cries? “He doesn’t like this.” This leads many moms to abandon babywearing due to the false assumption of: “If he is unhappy in this carrier, he does not like being worn at all.” One of the most well known baby carrier names is the Björn. In it’s classic design, their carrier is what I like to call a “crotch dangler” because the baby is being held up by it’s crotch using a very narrow piece of material, regardless of whether the baby is facing inward or outward. (Björn has since, very smartly, redesigned their carriers to make that center piece wider to offer more support, but they still offer the classic design too.) Now, hip development debates aside, would you rather be carried around by your crotch or by having support underneath your butt and the back of your knees? Personally, I’d say the latter, and adults who require wearing a safety harness for work will also tell you that a tightly fitted harness that supports their knees and hips properly is much more comfortable. If someone tried to carry me around by the crotch, I’d cry too. Just saying. Baby’s knees and hips should make a M shape with the knees at or higher than hip level for optimal support and comfort for both baby and the wearer. Crotch dangling carriers often allow the baby to arch his back and head outward, pulling his body away from his parent’s and causing the parent great discomfort. When a carrier holds the baby in a comfortable and well supported position snugly against the parent’s body, the carrier should be comfortable to wear.
While babywearing has TONS of benefits (see below) it only has three main safety rules regardless of what type or brand of carrier you use:
1. Keep baby visible and kissable – (This rule applies to infants and young babies.)
You should be able to kiss the top of baby’s head while they are being worn; otherwise, baby is too low in the carrier and is not safe (and not likely comfortable). You should be able to see baby’s face, meaning they are not too low, and you can see that baby’s face is tilted towards yours, meaning baby’s chin is not locked down onto her chest, which can cause suffocation. You should be able to see baby and check on her often.
2. Don’t use a carrier not meant for your child’s weight/height/age.
This should be obvious but needs to be said. Carriers that are too big or too small will not provide sufficient or safe support and security.
3. Don’t do any physical activity with your baby in a carrier that you couldn’t do while pregnant.
Again, this should be obvious but needs to be said. No rollerblading, bike riding, bouncing on a trampoline, drinking, smoking, horseback riding, or riding on a boat (baby should always be in a coast guard approved personal flotation device if riding on a boat) etc.
Babies who are worn tend to:
- cry up to 43% less.
- are more attentive.
- have increased speech development.
- have increased cognitive development due to stimulation of quiet alertness, exposure to caregiver’s facial expressions, and their changing environment.
- more easily regulate their emotional, intellectual, and physiological systems because being worn reminds baby of the motion and balance he enjoyed in the womb.
- bond more easily and more thoroughly with caregivers- proximity increases interaction, which is especially beneficial for mothers who are at risk for (or suffering from) postpartum depression or fathers/other caregivers who may not be around baby as often.
- be healthier- premature babies and babies with special needs who are touched and held gain weight faster and are healthier than babies who are not.
- be more convenient to carry- save those arms and go where strollers can’t: climb stairs, hike, and navigate crowded airports more easily!
- feel safer and more secure and therefore tend to be calmer.
- reduce sibling rivalry; take care of older children or do chores without frequent interruptions from an anxious or distressed infant.
Babywearing International has declared this week as:
They use this week as an outreach opportunity “to celebrate, promote, advocate for, and focus media attention on the many benefits of babywearing .” There are writing prompts for bloggers to utilize each day this week to bring attention to the many facets of babywearing, giveaways, and many babywearing groups are hosting events to celebrate. Here at Dream Diapers we have dedicated this week AND this month to babywearing! In fact, at the end of this month, there will be an opportunity for one of you to:
win a free Líllébaby carrier!
So stay tuned for more details regarding that contest giveaway!
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