Your baby is attached to your hip — quite literally. Instead of carrying your baby all the time, why not take some of the burden off your hip and your arms by babywearing. That is, carrying your baby via a sling, wrap, or carrier that you wear. You’ll love having your hands free, and baby will love being close to you as you go about your daily activities.
There are many options on the market; mostly it’s a personal choice of what you’re comfortable with. Here are the basics of babywearing.
Know the ABC’s of Babywearing
A – AIRWAY
The airway remains open at all times. To ensure your baby can breathe freely, be sure her head is not curled against her chest and that her face is not covered in fabric or pressed against your body. An infant should be mostly upright and close enough that you can kiss the top of her head.
B – BODY POSITIONING
The child is seated (like sitting in a chair) in a natural, ergonomic position. The knees are higher than the bottom, with the legs in an “M” position to help prevent hip dysplasia. The baby’s back is rounded in c-curve. When carrying infants, make sure there is support from the back to the nape of the neck.
C – COMFORT
Both you and the baby should be comfortable. A suitable carrier should allow for even distribution of the baby’s weight across your body.
Your neighbor may love her carrier, but that doesn’t mean it’s the best option for you. Consider your needs:
- How old is your baby?
- How much does she weigh?
- Would you prefer to wear your little one on your front, your hip, or your back?
- Do you have special circumstances such as back pain or a shoulder injury?
- How do you plan to use the carrier: for quick errands, on long hikes, or playing at the beach?
- Do you want a carrier that facilitates breastfeeding?
Jot down your thoughts so you can begin to research and shop.
Respect each carrier’s age and weight limits, and only use them as directed. For instance, you should never wear your baby on your back in a stretchy wraparound sling.
BE SAFE WHEN BABYWEARING
One rule of thumb is that if you would not participate in an activity while pregnant, you should not do so while wearing a baby. Avoid babywearing during activities that could lead to a fall or shake your baby — examples include skating, jumping on a trampoline, or riding a bicycle or horse. Inspect your carrier frequently for tears or weak spots, and check on your baby often.
CONSIDER BABYWEARING A SKILL
Whether you own a commercial baby carrier or a simple piece of cloth, once you get the hang of the basic babywearing positions, you can wear your baby with ease. Susie Spence, master babywearing educator with Babywearing International, says, “There are many high-tech commercial baby carriers on the market, but babywearing with simple pieces of cloth or straps has been practiced by people throughout history and around the globe. I have been known to carry babies in bedsheets, small tablecloths, and beach towels.”
SEEK OUT OTHER BABYWEARERS
One of the best ways to meet other babywearers, get hands-on help, and try new carriers is to find a Babywearing International chapter or another babywearing group near you. If you can’t make it to a meeting, you may wish to join an online forum such as TheBabywearer.com. The Internet is also a great source for how-to videos and informative articles. And don’t be shy — if you see a caregiver wearing a baby, strike up a conversation about it. You just might make a new friend.