Babywearing 101

Babywearing has been a part of several cultures for many many years now. The older generations of these cultures seemed to have understood that life had to go on when a new baby arrives and the baby’s needs of feeling secure and being held had to be met simultaneously. In last few years, babywearing has gained a lot of attention and popularity, we even see Hollywood stars using slings and carriers.
Recent medical research has also shown that babies who are held more are happier, more alert, cry less, and thrive.

Here is some information we have put together on babywearing to help you understand and make a babywearing choice that’s right for you.

 

Benefits of Babywearing

  • Bonding – Babies also develop a strong sense of security when they are carried which leads them to develop that trust with their caregiver. Skin-to-skin is encouraged with newborns to promote bonding and this can be done more easily when the baby is carried. Also, as a caregiver, you are able to read the baby’s cues more easily when they’re right with you and fulfill their needs(hunger, diaper change etc) more efficiently…which leads to a happier baby and a happier( and a more confident) you. The baby is always getting enough kisses and cuddles by you.
  • Security/Safety – the babies feel secure when they’re carried and the transition from the womb to a carrier is much easier for a baby . While being carried, babies can hear the heartbeat and voices just as they did in the womb and as a result, they feel secure and safe. They are also rocked to sleep like they were in the womb. Feeling of security leads to independence, as the babies who are carried transition into toddlerhood, they become more independent. Above everything, the mum spends less time worrying about the baby since they’re right next to him/her at all times. Both baby and the mum feel connected!
  • Convenience/Freedom – It is extremely convenient to carry your baby in a carrier, the baby goes where you go. An experience such as traveling through airports and shopping malls can be really easy when the baby is in a carrier as opposed to a stroller. There is no issue of finding access to elevators to go up and down floors. A baby in a carrier can be easy to take to the beach, for a hike or a walk. With the freedom of a carrier, a mum can keep up with other areas of their lives, complete chores, run errands and generally find a balance in life. A baby carried in a in a carrier gives the caregiver a free set of hands to do what they please. It’s also easy on the arms to carry a bigger baby for longer hours and to carry a heavy toddler.
  • Healthy – A big worry for mum’s after birth is “will I shed the pounds?”. Carrying a baby is a natural form of exercise for the mum. Mothers wanting to exercise can benefit from wearing their baby, they can take a walk with some extra weight which in turn will help burn more calories. Furthermore, a baby who is carried in a carrier sleeps better, feels secure hearing the mother’s heartbeat and voices just as he/she did in the womb and is always rocked to sleep. Skin-to-skin contact with babies makes them healthier and also promotes breastfeeding and physical/mental development. Recent medical research has also proven that baby wearing can be healthy for the mother and aids in the development of the baby.
  • Babies Cry Less – As a mum/parent, you never want to see your little baby cry. Babies spend more time in an alert state when they are carried which is ideal state for learning. Their senses are stimulated while being carried and secure. Looking at it from your babies point of view, they have the same line of sight as you do. If they were always in a pram/stroller, all they would see if the ceiling/sky!
  • Easy Nursing – Baby carried in a carrier can be nursed discretely and in some cases (or with some practice) it can be done while the mother is moving with a set of free hands. The carriers in some cases can also be used to cover up so that the mother can nurse her baby with comfort in public without requiring separate cover.
  • Easy to carry toddlers – Carriers are great to carry toddlers. When toddlers get close to that 25-30pound weight, they can be tough to carry for extended periods and at times, they can refuse to travel in a stroller. Getting a toddler through grocery shopping or through airports can be a breeze with a carrier. In return, you have a happy toddler and a completed task.

Types of Babywearing

Choosing a baby carrier can be a bit daunting for parents considering there are different types and styles. Each baby carrier has its advantages and disadvantages and we hope to outline them so that you can more an informed decision.
We feel it’s best to consider what exactly you will be using the carrier for and a stage. Unfortunately, there is not one carrier that fits the bill for every stage but as

Slings

Baby Slings are compact and easy to use. Using a baby sling is easy, it sits on your shoulder and allows you to pop your baby in or take him/her out quickly and easily. The ring in the sling is used to thread the fabric so that the sling can be adjusted easily. This makes it easy to change the position and re-adjust the baby to allow for nursing. The ring slings are also known to be perfect for carrying newborns and for hands free nursing. Some ring slings are padded at the shoulder, to allow for more support on the shoulder. Others without the padding allow the fabric to be fanned over the shoulder. Some ring slings, even have a pocket at the tail end of the fabric which can be used to carry a diaper or cards etc.

 

Pros

Cons

  • Compact and can easily fit in the diaper bag
  • Preferred at the newborn stage
  • Easy to put on and take off
  • Easy to put and take baby out of the sling
  • Allows bigger babies/toddlers to be carried on the hip
  • Allows for easy hand-free nursing or can be used to cover up while nursing
  • The ring-sling can become uncomfortable to carry a heavy baby/toddler(more than 25+lbs) for longer periods as it is supported by only one-shoulder.

 

Wraps

The wraps are the simplest and the most versatile of the carriers. The wrap is rectangle piece of cloth which is wrapped around your body with the baby. There are many carrying positions with the wrap and can be used at different stages with the baby. One of the best things about the wrap is you can put it on before you leave the house and put your baby in or take the baby out without taking the wrap off. It works great to keep the baby warm in the winter months…you can wear a big jacket around yourself and the baby and you’re set…the baby will always be nice and toasty being close to you.

Pros

Cons

  • offering many carrying positions and is extremely versatile
  • one-size fits most people
  • very comfortable and supportive for baby and the person carrying the baby
  • older toddlers can also use it as a blanket
  • Good to use at all different stages of a baby’s life from newborn to toddlerhood
  • Fabric can be used to cover up for nursing
  • Takes time and practice to learn to use the wrap
  • It is not as easy to put on and take off as some of the other carriers

 

Soft-structured carriers

The idea of a soft-structured carrier comes from some of the main stream carriers but it allows a softer pack and is better ergonomically for the person carrying the baby due to the extra shoulder and hip support provided. A soft-structured carrier is comfortable because it evenly distributes the weight of the baby across the shoulders and the hips to allow carrying for longer periods of time. Most caregivers and parents find soft buckled carriers to be easier for older babies (3 months and older- with head control) and heavy toddlers. (I still carry my heavy 19-month old, 27 pounder in one of these)

 

Pros

Cons

  • Very easy to use
  • Easy to put on and take off
  • Provide great ergonomic support for baby and the person carrying the baby
  • Good for heavier babies and/or to carry babies for longer periods of time
  • Wonderful for toddlers. Its easy to take them out and put them in.
  • Not always recommended for newborns until 3months
  • Some can be bulky