The Basics of Babywearing

Babywearing is a wonderful thing for both baby and mommy (or other caregivers!) Here are a few tips on how to get started! I LOVE wearing my babies!

 

It’s hard being a parent sometimes.

I do my best to be patient – but I lose my temper more often than I want.

Jack has chicken nuggets for lunch almost every day.

And we watch way too much Doc McStuffins, Daniel Tiger, and Octoanuts.

However, if there’s one thing I’ve done “right”, it was the decision to babywear my children.

When I was at BYU, I wrote an article about babywearing for the newspaper, and it totally fascinated me. I knew it was something I wanted to do with Jack. And it was honestly one of the best decisions I made.

 

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A few months before Jack was born, I made a moby wrap (you can see that tutorial here.) I used it everywhere — at the store, going on walks, cooking dinner, working at my computer…everywhere. Jack loved being snuggled up to his mama, I loved the extra cuddle time, and having two free hands. Many times, putting Jack in my carrier was the only thing to calm him down, and he often would take naps in it. He has horrible GERD from the beginning, so being vertical was essential.

Unfortunately, the Moby only can carry children up to about 15 pounds. Jack didn’t reach 15 pounds for awhile, but when he did…I was ready to retire it. Since then, I’ve tried different carriers, and they’ve all worked fine. I used a homemade mei tai that was really nice. However, when I want something a little more sturdy feeling, I used the BABYBJÖRN Carrier One.

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I love that I can use this carrier with the size Jack is now, and for awhile longer, as well (he is only 23 pounds!) While I definitely don’t babywear as much anymore, since Jack loves to run and play and doesn’t need me to hold him as much, I still enjoying doing so when I can. It makes shopping easier, for sure. And this carrier makes it easy and comfortable for both of us. Plus, I think it’s rather stylish!

So, now that I’ve talked a little bit about the carriers I’ve used, and why I love them…I want to help YOU decide if babywearing is right for you. Here are a few other carriers that are popular:

Benefits of Babywearing

You might be wondering why you should consider wearing your baby. And it’s a legitimate question! There is obviously a monetary investment that has to be made. However, from my research, and my personal experience, it’s worth it. The La Leche League, Dr. Sears, and many others endorse it. In fact, babywearing has been around for a very, very long time, and in many countries, it is used completely over carriers, strollers, etc. I’m not that intense (we love our stroller) but I do think it’s a good option.

I remember hearing the idea “9 months in, 9 months off,” as a way to help your child not feel such a huge shock being outside the womb, and adjust easier. Anyways, here are some of the benefits. I won’t go into all the details, but this is a brief overview. If you’d like more information, feel free to leave a comment or send me an email.

Baby Benefits

  • Babies may cry less
  • Babies are happier
  • Promotes breastfeeding (some women even breastfeed while babywearing. I’m not that talented.)
  • Can help premature babies gain weight faster
  • Babies feel more secure. Despite what some people may say, putting your child in a baby carrier does not spoil them. It helps them to feel loved, and secure, which in turn creates a more independent person. Studies are showing that “physical and psychological benefits associated with baby wearing encourage children to feel secure and content and build a solid sense of self-esteem.”
  • Helps baby to develop emotionally and socially (if they are in the baby carrier up where everyone is talking, rather than just sitting in a swing or carrier, they are able to interact more!)
  • Being closer to mom or dad, and feeling their heart beat, can encourage more steady breathing, and for a child to feel more secure. Infants LOVE being in tight, warm places, and a baby carrier provides that.
  • Can help calm colicky babies
  • Promotes good digestion, which can help calm treat or prevent colic or reflux

Parent Benefits

  • Great bonding tool (fathers, grandfathers and grandmothers, etc. can participate!)
  • Makes things more convenient
  • Extra cuddle time
  • Has been shown to help treat postpartum depression, as well as prevent it
  • Frees up hands while still being close to child
  • Extra cuddles
  • Deepens the attachment between parent and child

Kinds of Carriers

The great thing about babywearing is that there are SO many different kinds of carriers. If one doesn’t work for you, then you can try out another. There are even babywearing groups across the United States, and world, that will allow you to try out a carrier before purchasing it. You want the carrier to be easy to use, not put extra weight on your hips, and for your child to be safe and comfortable in it. You need to take into account your child’s age and size when deciding on a carrier.  This chart does an excellent job of showing the benefits of all the different kinds of carriers there are, what ages they are suitable for, and the benefits of them. I highly recommend reading it when trying to decide on a carrier.

This page is also helpful in determining the correct carry and hold for your child. In addition, I think it’s smart to have a few different carriers — maybe the Moby wrap when you are needing to only bring a few items or just around the house, and a carrier like the BABYBJÖRN Carrier One or the ERGO when you need something a little sturdier.

However, here is a brief overview of the different kinds of carriers out there:

Wraparound Carrier – these carriers are made of a simple piece of fabric that a mother or father can wrap around their bodies to carry their infant in a sling like way. They are easy to transport, and while they take a little bit of learning curve to understand, once you figure it out, you can tie it in seconds! These are ideal for newborns. This is like the Moby Wrap.

Soft Structured Carrier – these types of carriers are often sold at stores like Target and Babies ‘R Us. Instead of using knots to secure the carrier and your child, there are belts and adjustable straps. The BABYBJÖRN Carrier One and the ERGO is a soft structured carrier. I love this type of carrier, because they are very sturdy and secure, and often have pockets to put things in! They do tend to be a bit pricier, but will usually last from newborn stage up until late toddler-hood. They provide all the benefits of body-to-body contact, but can be used in more situations than some of the other carriers.

Ring Slings – This are simply shawls with a ring attached. They can be used for newborns up to toddlers, and are usually pretty stylish.

Mei Tais – these are traditional Asian carriers that have a body panel, shoulder straps, and waist straps. They are very simple to tie and seem to be rather comfy. I have one of these and used it for a few months.

Framed Carriers – these are carriers that are mainly built for hiking and to be worn on the back.

Sling Carrier – these are probably the simplest carriers they are. It’s just a tube of fabric that you put over your body and place your infant in. They are super easy to use. I had one of these, but it wasn’t my favorite. These are ideal around four months. You can get a free one (just pay shipping) here, just use the code C113D4

Safety

When placing your child in any carrier, your number one concern should be their safety. While babywearing has many wonderful benefits, if you don’t do it correctly, it could severely harm your child. Be sure to follow these steps to make sure your baby is as safe as possible!

  • Baby should be visible and kissable at all times!
  • Make sure your baby can breathe at all times
  • Check your child often, especially when they are under four months old
  • Baby should NEVER have their face covered
  • Never let your child’s chin touch their chest. This can be deadly.
  • Knees should be above the bum
  • Don’t let them curl up in a ball
  • Never do anything that would cause the baby to bounce or be shaken while in the carrier, such as running, jumping, or playing on a trampoline. Use common sense.
  • Use a carrier that is appropriate for your child’s age and weight. While the BABYBJÖRN Carrier One is perfect for every age, not all carriers are designed that way. Be sure to read the manual!
  • Practice with a doll or stuffed animal before putting your child in a carrier
  • When you are first learning how to use a carrier, make sure you have a “spotter”
  • Never put a child less than four months front facing in a carrier. There is a lot of debate on whether or not placing your child front facing in a baby carrier is safe at any age. Personally, I liked having Jack facing me, and he always did too, but I feel like you should educate yourself on the topic, and decide what’s best for your family!
  • Positioning is very important — your child’s legs should always be ” in a frog position, bottom down knees up, straddling you, with legs up at a 90° angle to the spine.” Read more about positioning here.
  • If you feel pain in your hips, or your back, re-evaluate how you put the carrier on, as you shouldn’t feel any stress on your own body.

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