According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, baby wearing can help prevent crying, encourage a bond between parent and baby, and help promote development in young children.
With the recent popularization of baby wearing on social media, it can feel like a recent invention. But parents have been wearing their babies for centuries. As a first time parent, you might feel overwhelmed with all of the choices and jargon out there. There’s a ton of information!
Keep reading about the basics of baby wearing for new parents.
What Is Baby Wearing?
Baby wearing, also known as baby carrying, is the practice of carrying a child in a wrap or a baby carrier. It’s recently been a booming business in western parenting, but it’s been popular around the globe for as long as mothers have been having babies.
Baby wearing is a simple, convenient way to keep your baby close to you during naps and fussy times so you can get more done and you and your baby can bond.
Is Baby Wearing Safe?
There are some safety essentials you need to keep in mind when it comes to baby wearing. Like anything else, using improper practices can lead to injury or fatality.
Close Enough to Kiss
When wearing your baby, they need to be close enough to your face that you can kiss the top of their head. Your wrap or carrier needs to fit snugly, securing your baby high up on your chest.
When you wear a baby too low, you increase the risk of them slumping over, restricting their airway.
Protect Natural Positioning
While babies are in the womb, they curl up into the fetal position, and their spines are curved with their knees bunched up to their chests. This is a natural position for babies, and it’s important that while they’re young you help them maintain this for their development.
Stretching their limbs out (also known as “crotch dangling”) while worn in carriers can cause hip problems like dysplasia.
Your baby must be supported from knee to knee, helping to preserve this squat position and natural curve in their spine.
Stay Away From Heat
It’s not advised to wear your baby while you’re busy in the kitchen or around another heat source. No matter how careful we are, there’s always the chance of an accident happening.
Loose Fitted Clothes
Keeping your baby warm is obviously a top priority, but wearing tightly fitting pajamas can cause blood flow issues while they’re in a carrier. Footie pajamas will rise naturally while your baby is tucked against your chest, and sitting in this position for too long can restrict movement and blood flow.
Always size up the pajamas and check your baby’s toes periodically while you wear them to make sure they have enough wiggle room!
Types of Carriers
There are a few different options when it comes to wearing a baby, some more complicated than others. It’s a good idea to do your research when it comes to each different type of wrap before committing to one kind, or check your local baby wearing group for rental programs as well.
Woven wraps are long pieces of woven fabric that can be tied and wrapped in any number of methods to keep your baby tucked tight to your chest from birth to preschool. They take a lot of practice and trial and error, and sometimes an extra set of hands or two, but once you get the wrap down you’re set for a long time.
Woven fabrics are thick and not stretchy at all. This helps you get a good grip on your child no matter what they weigh.
There is also a stretchy wrap option that is good for children up to 20 lbs.
Slings and Pouches
Slings and pouches are like woven wraps, however, they’re cut and designed specifically to be worn over one shoulder. They create a seat for your baby and help to support them against your body.
Pouches allow your child to recline tucked against your body and also require more supervision as their airways can become more easily restricted.
Soft-structured carriers, like these Tula carriers, are super convenient for parents on the go. They’re made out of soft material that is pre-sewn into a seat so you don’t have to worry about complicated tying processes.
They have shoulder straps and buckles that allow you to carry on your chest or your back and are great for long walks.
Mei Teis are Asian style baby carriers that essentially are a cross between a soft-structured carrier and a wrap. They have soft straps that you can wrap and tie and a structured piece of fabric for your baby to rest in. They have a belt that ties around your waist as well.
Busting Baby Wearing Myths
Many first time moms will get side-eye stares from the older generation who think that you can spoil a baby by holding it too much. It’s so important to remember that you cannot spoil a baby at all! Babies need to be held close, it’s a part of what helps them develop attachments and learn how to soothe themselves.
Also, it’s not true that a baby in a carrier will never learn to be independent. If you show them that you’ll always be there for them no matter what, they’re more likely to take risks and adventure into the world with confidence.
Napping in a baby carrier is safe as long as you follow the guidelines listed above and the process works for you.
Baby Wearing 101
Baby wearing is a safe and convenient way to keep your baby close to you. It lessens the amount of crying and helps parents form a bond with their children. There is a learning curve, but if you practice and keep at it, you’ll find yourself toting your child around hands-free in no time.
If you’re interested in learning more about motherhood, keep reading our blog for more!