Apr 10 , 2020
Babywearing is a term used to describe the practice of keeping your baby safe and secure inside a carrier tied to your body. Women from different cultures all across the world have practiced babywearing for generations as it promises several benefits for both the mother and child—mainly, convenience, safety, and close bonding.
The Benefits of Babywearing
The number one advantage of babywearing is convenience. Since you don’t have to hold on to a stroller or keep your baby in your arms all day, you’re pretty much free to do necessary tasks and fun activities without any hassle. You can buy groceries, clean up a bit, and do household chores with the reassurance that your baby is snug, safe, and secure. Wearing your baby also allows you to use escalators and walk wherever you want without having to move anything heavy or cumbersome.
Babywearing is also a great way to prevent all sorts of stressful situations in and out of the home. Instead of chasing a runaway stroller in the park or accidentally leaving your baby at a friend’s house (don’t feel bad, this actually does happen a lot!), you can simply keep your baby close to your body at all times. If you ever feel a bit too anxious about how your little one is doing, all you have to do is just look down and check up on him right away.
Another big advantage of babywearing is that it does a great job of keeping babies calm. According to studies, babies who were kept in close contact with their parents for a few hours a day cried and fussed less. Young mothers were also found to bond better with their children when they carried their infants. Babies feel safe and soothed when they’re in direct contact with their caregivers rather than kept at an arm’s length, so you’re more likely to have an easier time calming them down by keeping them in a baby carrier than in a far-away stroller or crib.
Not only does keeping your baby close to you wash away your child’s fears and anxieties, but it also greatly helps with their socio-emotional development. Babywearing helps babies learn to become calm and alert, and it also exposes them to more sights and sounds. A baby stuck in a crib all day won’t gain much stimulation from watching the same monitor or listening to the same sounds every day, but they will really appreciate listening to various voices and observing new sights. By fostering a safe and secure environment for your baby, you can help them develop a newfound appreciation for their family as well as a strong sense of self.
Keeping your baby close to you is a great way to make breastfeeding more convenient. Babywearing makes it easier for you to recognize when your child is becoming too fussy or hungry for comfort. Rather than running to the nearest bathroom or nursery, you can nurse them inside the carrier right away. If you’re not comfortable with public breastfeeding, you can still keep them satiated by nursing them in the carrier while looking for a safe space.
Types of Baby Carriers
There are many different carriers that you and your baby can enjoy anywhere at any time. However, it is also important to remember that the best carriers to use are those that allow a baby’s legs to spread, provide ample support to the legs and knee joints, and keep the hips in a stable position. Using carriers that force a baby’s legs to stay together or don’t provide any stable support is likely to lead to hip problems down the line.
1. Babywearing Wraps
Wraps are known to be one of the best and safest carrier options out there. They allow the healthy development of a baby’s hips, and they’ve served as important tools for mothers in many different cultures. However, wraps aren’t the easiest carrier to use. It can take a bit of time for you to get used to tying a long piece of fabric around your body at first, but you’re sure to get used to babywearing wraps with enough practice.
There are many different wraps that you can choose from. Stretchable fabric wraps, also known as “Stretchy wraps” are the best option for beginners since they can be wrapped around your body and stretched over your baby. The use of elastic fabric also allows you to carry your baby without any feeling of chafing or suffocation.
Mothers who plan to wear their babies on their backs, as well as those who need to carry heavier babies and toddlers, can greatly benefit from using sturdy woven wraps. These wraps are made of cotton, wool, and other durable fabric, so they can provide stable support for babies of all ages.
Babywearing slings are similar to wraps in that they’re also long pieces of cloth meant to be tied over your body. The difference here is that slings have to be worn like a sash over your shoulder and torso. Some slings come only as a long piece of cloth to be tied and worn, while other slings come with rings that allow for easier adjustment and fastening. Most cloth slings tend to be made with stretchable fabric, while ring slings are usually made of durable cotton and linen.
Slings are great to use if you need to carry newborn babies since they can easily fit and support smaller-sized infants. If you need to carry bigger or older babies, you can also have them sit in the sling with their legs spread across your torso. Though slings are also a great choice for beginners, they can become exhausting and painful for some to use since you have to carry a lot of weight on one shoulder. If you have back or shoulder problems, a sling might not be a great choice for you.
3. Soft Structured Carriers
This is perhaps the most well-known type of baby carrier. Soft-structured carriers use padded buckles and shoulder straps, as well as a panel, to better distribute a baby’s weight across your body and provide healthy support for their hips and legs. Many parents find soft structured carriers as the most convenient option since it’s much easier to make adjustments using the adjustable straps and buckles, and because they don’t have to carry so much weight. The panel on which a baby’s bottom rests also allows kids to bend their knees and spread their legs apart so that they don’t suffer any problems with hip dysplasia.
Practicing Safe Babywearing
Babywearing is a great way to make life easier for both you and your baby. However, like most other parenting practices, it should be done with plenty of love and care. Learning the safest and most efficient ways of using a baby carrier will spare your baby from suffering painful hip problems in the future, and it will also spare you from putting unnecessary strain on your torso and back. Here are a few guidelines to help you practice safe babywearing:
- Leave Plenty Of Room To Breathe: Your baby won’t like having to suffocate every time you bring him to the park or store. When using a carrier, it’s important not to let anything obstruct his airways. His face shouldn't also be obstructed by fabric or pinned against your chest. You should also make sure that your baby’s chin isn’t pressed down against his chest but instead raised up for healthier breathing.
- Make Sure The Carrier Works: It’s always important to perform a test run with any parenting product you plan to use. Before bringing a baby carrier home, make sure it’s durable and stable enough to use for several hours on end. Be sure to check for any tears or signs of damage in the fabric or straps. You should also make sure that the carrier allows a baby to sit in the healthiest position—with his legs spread apart, his legs and hips strongly supported, and his knees bent above his buttocks.
- Don’t Make The Baby Lie Down: Unless you’re breastfeeding, your baby shouldn’t be stuck lying down in the carrier all day. Forcing a baby’s legs to stick together in a mermaid-like position can hinder healthy hip development and cause serious physical problems. The best carriers to use should be those that allow your baby to sit properly with their legs spread apart.
- Practice Makes Perfect: You aren’t going to perfect the art of carrying your baby on your first try. When trying babywearing for the first time, be sure to practice using your carrier in a safe and comfortable way. Don’t bring your carrier to the park right away if you aren’t sure how to use it. Instead, try practicing babywearing close to the ground or over your bed and sofa until you’ve gotten used to it. It also helps to have a companion around in case any sudden mishaps or accidents occur.