Recently I attended the Canadian Babywearing School (CBS) Educators course in Milton, Ontario. As a pediatric chiropractor, I am often asked about how to correctly wear a baby in a carrier or wrap, as well as addressing any concerns from parents about positioning and comfort.
Personally, I wore both Rosie and William when they were teeny tiny! William still loves to be worn and often drifts into a pleasant slumber when we are out and about as he nestles into his wrap.
Here are a few FAQ’s I often receive about carrying your baby!
Q. What exactly does it mean to baby wear?
The term “baby wearing” has been used to describe the ancient and recently revived custom of carrying infants in cloth carriers on a parent’s body. Although it has been gaining popularity in western society, many cultures around the world have been using this method of baby transport for centuries.
PS It should actually be called baby carrying instead of the commonly used term baby wearing (we try not to think of babies as accessories lol!)
Q. What are some of the benefits of babywearing or baby carrying?
There are numerous benefits both parent and infant:
- It’s been shown that infants who are carried are generally calmer because all of their primal/survival needs are met. Their caregiver can be seen, heard, smelled, touched and provide feeding if needed.
- “Skin to skin” contact is maintained and a strong bond between baby and parent is established.
- Constant motion and rhythm has a balancing and soothing effect on infants resulting in less crying and fussing overall.
- Carrying baby offers parents practicality and freedom to multi-task while attending to their little one – a more “hands-free” approach. Many moms master the art of babywearng and breastfeeding at the same time!
- From a chiropractic perspective, it is also a safer, back saving alternative to lugging around a heavy, bulky car seat.
Q. How do I safely wear my baby?
There are correct and incorrect ways to wear your baby and certain safety precautions must be considered.
Each carrier, wrap or sling should have an instruction booklet – read these carefully before using with baby.
Here are a few more guidelines and safety basics:
- Check your sling, carrier or wrap for wear and tear before every use. Look for ripped seams, torn straps and damaged hardware.
- Keep baby’s face in view and baby’s head close enough for you to kiss. Remember – “Visable and Kissable”
- Always keep slings and carriers snug
- Keep baby’s chin off of their chest to maintain a clear airway
- Make sure baby’s legs aren’t bunched up against their stomach
- Support baby’s back and keep their tummy and chest against yours
- Do not wear baby while cooking or working with sharp or hot objects
- Do not ride a bicycle while wearing baby
Remember to keep your baby visible and kissable at all times.
Q. What should I consider when buying a sling, carrier or wrap?
For parents who choose to baby wear, there are many factors to consider when deciding what type of carrier to use. Here are a few things to consider:
- Choose a model that has detailed, easy-to-understand instructions. Keep them for future use.
- It’s always great to try a product before buying. There are some great shops that specialize in baby wearing and offer one on one help – see below for recommendations.
- Check with the retailer or manufacturer to make sure the carrier or sling meets all safety requirements and standards.
Here are a few more resources:
- Carry Me Close Babywearers is a Toronto-based non-profit organization committed to offering advice on babywearing. They have a meetings once a month in Toronto. Find them here.
- Health Canada has a babywearing resource page offering safe guidelines.
- Little Zen One is a great little shop in Toronto’s East End that offers 1-on-1 consultations to help you find the right carrier.
Remember like any skill, baby wearing can take a bit of practice but the benefits for baby and caregiver are amazing!
Questions about baby wearing or infant development? Feel free to contact me!