Baby Wearing 101: The Basics of Using a Baby Sling for First Time Parents
Wearing your baby is a good way to carry your infant for long periods without straining your arms or having to bring around a stroller everywhere. This is a practice normally done by parents so that they remain close and connected to their baby while still engaging in normal everyday activities.
Just a hook:
Baby wearing can help you
burn up to 300 additional calories in a day!
Have we got your attention?
There are various ways of wearing a baby or a toddler and this method can be traced back to many traditional countries. Although newborn baby wearing is not as popular in modern countries of the world, many first time parents are starting to adopt this practice because they want to remain as close to their baby or toddler as possible.
Babywearing International is an organization leading the way in educating parents and caregivers about the issues, benefits, and other concerns when it comes to baby wearing. Needless to say, parents aren’t the only ones who can use a baby sling or wrap.
The practice can also be done by grandparents, older siblings, babysitters, and even nurses. Basically anyone with the capacity to carry a baby can try baby wearing as long as they have familiarized themselves with the safety precautions and how to properly apply the practice.
If you are interested in learning more about what is babywearing and all its basics, keep on reading and you can form a closer bond with your baby or toddler in no time.
Understanding more about the concepts, disadvantages, and benefits of babywearing before jumping into buying a product for yourself is the best way to ensure that you and your baby are ready for this practice.
It is important to remember that there are safety precautions you and other family members must undertake before using a baby sling, wrap or something similar.
There are many different types of carriers and slings available on the market that you should explore which one you and your baby or toddler will be most comfortable in.
It has been previously mentioned that there are a number of choices when it comes to baby wearing. Although there are several styles and a long range of prices available in the market today, there are just 3 main types of baby carriers.
Here they are:
Baby Wearing Slings
The baby wearing sling is a long sturdy piece of fabric that is wrapped around one shoulder and across the torso of the carrier. This type of baby carrier is best used in baby wearing newborn infants.
Small babies can settle in the slings comfortably and both mom and baby can rest easy. Some parents also choose the slings are their option for older babies and toddlers where they can sit in the fabric much like a seat carried on the hip.
Baby Wearing Wraps
Baby wearing wraps are very versatile and affordable. They are made of really long fabric that is also wrapped around the torso of the carrier, but is different from the sling because it is wrapped around both shoulders. This is a great way of wearing your baby or toddler while staying comfortable and safe.
Soft-Structured Baby Carriers (SSC)
This type of carrier is made out of soft padded material and formed into an already structured seat for your baby. You could say it resembles a backpack for your baby.
It is the type of carrier that is best used for outside activities that require parents to move around or for carrying a baby for long periods of time. The structured carrier is more popular compared to the sling and the wrap because of its functionality and no hassle use. It’s a great way to try baby wearing as it’s the easiest to use.
How do you know which is the right type for you? It really comes down to need and preference. Some moms can’t even choose which one they like best so they get one of every type.
Then there are the parents who get multiple wraps and carriers so they can include the babywear in their ensemble for the day.
It’s best to attend babywear events so you can try out the products and see how these items fit you and your needs.
So aside from the amazing 300 calories burned through wearing your baby, what other benefits does babywearing have for parents?
According to world experts on babywearing, the practice does the following:
- Promotes and makes breastfeeding easier for both mother and child.
- Parent-child bonding is stronger and may help mothers deal with postpartum depression.
- With the many options available, baby wearing on a budget is possible.
- Babies that are carried have shown to sleep, feed, and grow better.
- Moms, dads, and other caregivers are able to care for older siblings easier while having their baby close to them.
- Wearing baby reduces their crying and fussing up to 43% which lessens the burden and stress of mom and dad.
- Carrying a baby close to you enhances their learning as they are more exposed to conversations on a daily basis. Their cognitive and speech development is heightened due to the exposure.
There are many other benefits of babywearing which parents can look forward to when they do decide to try this technique for themselves. Babywearing International expands on these benefits further if you are interested in learning more.
When it comes to practices like baby wearing it’s also good to explore some of the disadvantages. This will help you as a parent or caregiver. Full knowledge about this practice gives you a wider view of what’s to come and it will set your expectations.
By learning more about the possible cons of such a delicate and intimate form of baby carrying you are preparing yourself properly and you fully understand the limitations before trying it out for yourself.
Baby wearing may not also be for everyone, especially if you think about the disadvantages:
Here you will find a list of disadvantages of baby wearing:
- It can get warm for both carrier and baby. Due to the close proximity between the two creates a lot of body heat resulting in an uncomfortable experience.
- It can get messy when you are baby wearing toddlers and infants. They spit up and vomit so be ready to clean up any time!
- Slings and wraps can be difficult to handle especially if you have no experience. It won’t be easy, but you will find a baby carrier that’s right for you and your baby.
- Baby wearing can be risky and dangerous. You are carrying yourself and the weight of your baby. Be careful of slips and falls and keep your hands free to catch yourself just in case these do happen. Remember: safe babywearing is a priority!
- Back pain. If you’re not wearing your infant or toddler the right way you may experience some back pain. To avoid this, pay attention to baby wearing wrap instructions.
- Too many types of slings and wrap to choose from. This is a big concern for many first time baby wearing wrap parents. Choosing the best one can be a difficult decision that will make them opt out of trying it in the end.
- Costs can be high, especially if you want the best quality wraps and slings. You can babywear cheaply, but the material may be stifling, stretch too far and could need replacement in just a few weeks or months.
There’s no denying it but mentioning both the disadvantages and the benefits of baby wearing are equally important. Having the knowledge of both sides can lead to a better and wiser decision if indeed baby wearing is a good option for you.
Just like a lot of new things involving babies baby wearing requires some extra research to be done to ensure everyone involved will be comfortable and safe.
Positioning your baby is a very important part in baby wearing. If they are not in the proper position it can cause discomfort or worse for both the baby and the carrier. The optimum and best position for the toddler or baby is to stay upright unless they are nursing. If they are nursing, bring them back to an upright position right after.
As a carrier you have to make sure that the baby’s legs are always higher than their bottom. Their legs should be spread so that their spine and hips are properly supported which leads to a proper growth development.
Baby wearing newborn is different though. For newborn babies they can be worn in a cradle position, if you prefer. Just make sure that their head is always visible and high enough so that their breathing will not be obstructed.
Always double check that their face is clear of any fabric as this can be dangerous and pose as a threat to their breathing. For a more specific guide on proper baby positioning while they are wrapped visit this very informative link.
If you have already gone through the basics of what is baby wearing and have already considered both the disadvantages of baby wearing and the many babywearing benefits, you’re halfway done. You are now probably curious on how you can properly apply this technique yourself.
Note though that these are collective tips and instructions for best babywearing for newborn babies and toddlers can be applied to most types of carriers. These are general tips and once you have settled on a specific type of carrier you may need to make certain adjustment according to their specifications.
Baby Wearing Tips and Tricks:
- Practice makes perfect. Make sure to try on the carrier or if you’re switching to a new kind of carrier on a soft surface that is near to the ground. It also helps if you do this with someone so that they can assist you with the baby wearing instructions properly, if needed.
- Make sure baby is breathing properly. It may seem like a no brainer, but new parents can forget that babies have not yet fully developed their control over their muscles. If the chin is against the chest breathing can become difficult for the baby. Also make sure that their heads and faces are never covered by fabric, this is part of babywearing safety 101.
- Wrap should be snug and comfortable. This is very important for parents who are using a baby wrap. Make sure that your baby is snug against your body while remaining high above your chest. By ensuring you are wearing your child at the optimum height, you also avoid experiencing unnecessary back pain.
- Anchored to the hip. Carrying a baby for long periods of time can put a strain on mom or dad. By using your hip as an anchor and letting the baby or toddler rest comfortably in an upright position on your hips you are lessening the strain on the rest of your body. By doing this you are able to practice newborn baby wearing effectively.
- Don’t tuck. Tucking your baby’s legs behind their bottom can cause pressure and may affect his blood flow. Make sure your baby stays in a natural rounded position while he or she is wrapped around you.
- Check your carrier regularly. Carrying your precious cargo around can take a toll on the carrier. Routinely check for rips, tears, and other damages to make sure your baby or toddler will stay safe while wrapped around you.
- Change every stage. There are different types of carriers that work best with the stages of your baby’s growth. If you wish to continue on with baby wearing make sure you also update your carrier to accommodate your baby’s growth.
- Never wrap and drive. Baby wearing may make you feel close to your baby, but it is not a car seat. If you have to drive around with your baby in tow have a car seat ready for them. That’s just basic babywear safety.
- Common sense is important. If there are activities you cannot do while you are pregnant, it’s safe to say you cannot do when while your baby or even toddler is wrapped around you. Do not put you and your baby in unnecessary danger by thinking ahead and avoiding these activities.
- Keep danger away. Babies and toddlers are unpredictable grabbers. Make sure you do not have anything sharp or hot near you because they might end up reaching out and grabbing those objects.
- Adjust. Move. Adjust. Move. This should be your recurring motto when baby wearing. When you’re about to make a move to bend or to pick something up, adjust the sling or wrap and provide proper support for your child to ensure a safe babywearing experience.
- Protection from their surroundings. Make sure that your baby is always comfortable while they are wrapped around you. Whether it’s summer or winter, dress them accordingly to avoid them from overheating or getting too cold.
More and more parents are giving the baby wearing wrap and sling a try when it comes to carrying their infants and toddlers. New parents or first time baby wearing parents must understand that baby wearing is not a parenting philosophy.
Search online for local groups and communities where parents get together to wear their babies and discuss parenting and life. You may be surprised at how many fellow mothers actually take part!
It is simply a way to connect to your newborn and toddlers in a special by creating the importance of closeness and bonding. It is a safe practice that any parent or caregiver can try only if they have ready up on the safety precautions and must do’s of baby wearing.
Don’t forget that before embarking in the world of baby wraps and slings, do more research to find out which one is the best for you. Start creating a bond with your baby and help them grow smarter, stronger and healthier by keeping them wrapped around you.