Have you ever seen a parent wearing his or her baby in a sling?
Have you noticed this practice getting more and more popular in every country around the world in recent years?
Are you wondering about whether or not this is a good decision for you and your baby?
If you’re thinking of carrying your newborn baby in a carrier, you’re not alone! Many mothers and fathers in developed countries have recently adopted this traditional trend from developing countries and begun going everywhere with their newborn in baby carrier varieties. However, carrying a newborn is different from carrying an older child, and it requires more attention.
That’s what this article is here for! Below, you’ll learn about babywearing and its benefits. You’ll also find out about the different types of baby carrier safe for newborn use as well as how to use each one.
By the time you’ve finished reading through this information, you’ll be ready to decide whether or not newborn baby carrying is right for you. And if you choose to do it, you’ll be able to select the perfect type of carrier for your newborn infant.
Read on to learn more!
Safe Babywearing: 10 Tips for Newborn Babies
The absolutely most important factor in carrying your baby is baby carrier newborn safety. Even if your baby hasn’t been born yet, it’s never too early to start learning about how to keep him or her safe in a baby carrier. And if you’ve been carrying your baby around in one of these carriers for a while, check out these tips anyway! You never know when you might be missing something you could be doing to keep your newborn even safer during your regular outings.
Baby Wearing Tip #1. Always keep your newborn’s airway clear by securing his or her chin.
Wrap your carrier tightly enough that your baby is held upright and can’t change position. Your baby should have his or her chin up instead of pressed down to the chest, and the baby should not be able to curl up, lean over, or sink against you. Keeping his or her chin up will keep the lungs and airway free and clear to operate safely as they should. This can be achieved by adjusting your wrap, sling, or carrier appropriately and carefully checking your newborn's chin regularly. Keep your chin up little one!
Baby Wearing Tip #2. Always keep your newborn’s spine, back and hip area supported in a natural position.
The natural position of a newborn’s spine and back is rounded slightly with “frog legs" at the hip area, or their hip and legs in a squatting position. The legs and hip area should never be spread wider than the baby’s pelvis naturally sits, and the baby’s hip and bottom should be kept lower than the knees at all times. The wrap or sling shouldn’t flatten the baby’s spine against you but should provide plenty of support to keep it upright and stable at all times. It should also not spread the legs and hip area as much as possible.
Baby Wearing Tip #3. A newborn should always be worn very high on your chest.
You should be able to see your baby’s face at any time when you glance down, and it’s best if the baby’s face is in your peripheral vision no matter what. The baby’s face should be free and clear of any blockages, and the baby’s cheek should rest gently against your chest. You can use part of your wrap to support your newborn’s neck and head from the back, but be careful not to block the mouth or nose when you do this.
Baby Wearing Tip #4. Use a thin wrap for a newborn and consider upgrading later on when your baby gets larger and heavier.
Thin wraps are much more supportive than you might realize, and they can gently cradle and hold your newborn without flattening the spine or potentially causing breathing blockages or issues. Thin wraps are as widely available as the thicker options, but they should only be used until the baby weighs eight to ten pounds. They are perfect for newborns up to three months of age. If you will be using a soft carrier with an infant insert, you should use this for up to at least four months of age. You should never use a rolled-up towel in your baby carrier in place of an infant insert designed for newborn use.
Baby Wearing Tip #5. Buy your carrier from a good source.
There are plenty of big name brands that make baby carriers of all types, and you can find out a lot about them from a little research or asking your friends and family who have recently had babies. While you might be tempted to buy an attractive sling or wrap from someone who makes and sells them on their own, these aren’t regulated and have no guarantee of providing the right amount of safety for your baby—and especially not for a newborn. Don’t be afraid to spend a few extra dollars or give up on getting something made out of cute fabric in favor of getting a carrier that’s going to be safe for your child.
Baby Wearing Tip #6. Check your carrier every day for damage.
This may seem a little excessive, but all it takes is one tear for your baby’s weight to end up pulling your wrap apart. Your baby could potentially fall out of the wrap or stick his or her leg through a large enough hole, and there could be a lot of damage done in a short amount of time this way. You can prevent this potentially unpleasant situation by quickly looking over your carrier before and after every day you use it.
Baby Wearing Tip #7. Always have another adult present to help you get your baby ready for carrying until you’re completely confident.
It can be a two-person job, especially with a wriggling newborn! There’s no shame in needing help to get your baby ready for a carrying adventure. Eventually, you’ll get good enough at this to be able to do it on your own, but there’s no need to rush this.
Baby Wearing Tip #8. Never keep your baby carrier on in the car, in a pool, or on a ride.
Most of these are common sense, but in a quick moment, you could make a poor decision for the safety of your baby. If you keep your baby in a carrier, wrap, or sling in water, there’s no way to tell if your baby is floating or safe from being submerged. Wearing a wrap, sling, or carrier in a vehicle can very easily cause your baby to be hurt during something as normal as a quick stop, and rides (such as those at theme parks) are dangerous for your baby in the same way.
Baby Wearing Tip #9. When your carrier starts to look worn out or stretched, don’t hesitate to buy a new one.
Regularly replacing carriers that look a little frayed or thin can go a long way toward ensuring the safety of your newborn and beyond. You should always keep a traditional plastic baby carrier on hand just in case something like this should happen, even if you don’t plan or want to use it very often. This way, if you need to run out to the store for a new wrap or sling, you’ll have a way to transport your baby safely while you do so!
Baby Wearing Tip #10. If anyone else will be carrying the baby, instruct them on the correct babywearing methods.
This includes your spouse or the baby’s other parent, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and older siblings. Children shouldn’t be allowed to carry the baby in a sling, wrap or carrier simply because they aren’t likely to be strong or responsible enough to care for the baby in this type of situation. Mature teens can be allowed to practice babywearing on an individual basis, and you’re the best judge of this. No matter who else will be carrying your baby, make sure they know the right way to wear your carrier of choice. If possible, always help them put on the carrier appropriately first.
Health Benefits of Safe Babywearing for a Newborn
There are a lot of health benefits to carrying your newborn in a ring sling or another type of baby carrier. Before you learn about how to go about this popular practice, it’s a good idea to understand just why you might want to do this in the first place.
- It’s better for the baby’s physical development health to be carried in a sling. While the baby is very young—and especially as a newborn—he or she won’t have control over muscles and body movements very much. When correctly worn in a sling or another type of baby carrier, the newborn is not able to loll or flop around at all, and muscles are strengthened from being held in an upright position.
- It’s convenient for the parent to wear the baby. Of course, your baby’s needs should come before your own when you make a decision like this one, but there’s no arguing that it’s more convenient for you to have your baby close. You can more easily tell when he or she is about to start crying, and you don’t have to work with large, awkward and bulky strollers and plastic carriers. You can even use the sling as a clean place to lay your baby for changing if another option isn’t available.
- It’s healthier for the parent to carry the baby. After a baby comes into your life, you might not have a lot of time for exercise and health. If you’re regularly lifting and carrying your child, you’ll be able to burn some calories and keep your muscles strong at the same time.
- It’s more secure for the baby to be carried. As a newborn, your baby may feel overwhelmed by new stimuli that come into his or her life almost every day. Being held close to you will keep your newborn secure and feeling safe.
- Communication health between parent and child is easier when babywearing. You’ll learn to read your baby’s body language much more quickly and anticipate needs way ahead of time.
Safe Babywearing: Safe Carriers for Newborns
Although there are a lot of types of baby carriers available for all stages of infancy, the options for newborn babies are a little more limited. Even so, you don’t have to wait until your baby grows up a little to start carrying him or her close to you at all times. Check out this list to find out if your only option is a ring sling with newborn babies or if you have other choices to decide between.
- Wraps – Wraps are designed to go around your body and support your baby’s weight with very durable but lightweight stretchy fabric. They don’t have any fasteners, rings, or clasps that could potentially pinch babies or come unhooked and cause harm to your child. They are better suited for older babies, but there are a couple of ways you can wear them to provide plenty of safety for your newborn, too.
- Slings – When you have a newborn carry in ring sling for maximum safety. This is one of the most popular methods for babywearing newborn babies. These slings are made of durable, strong fabric that is run through one or more rings to allow for easy adjusting and tightening as needed. These slings are available in a lot of different colors and are often a little more affordable than wraps.
- Soft Carriers with Inserts – These are the types of baby carriers you’re probably most used to seeing out in public. These are structured carriers that usually provide extra support at the baby’s chest, back or both. They have adjustable straps you can put over your shoulders and are meant to be worn on your chest, although some parents wear them (incorrectly) on the back. Infant inserts are absolutely required for newborn use, but these can make the whole carrier much harder to wear and much heavier, too.
How to Carry a Newborn Using Each Baby Carrier Type
There are plenty of different ways to carry babies using wraps, slings, and soft carriers, but newborns must be carried in only a few specific ways to provide adequate safety for them at all times. In this section, you’ll learn the most common methods for keeping your newborn baby safe in a carrier, whether you choose a sling, a wrap, or a soft carrier with an insert instead.
Safe Babywearing with Wraps
These are some of the most comfortable types of baby carriers on the market.
- First, put on your wrap. Your wrap should’ve come with directions for this, but to recap: hold the wrap at your navel, facing outward, and cross the two long pieces behind your back.
- Bring these pieces back to the front and tuck them under the piece wrapped around your belly.
- Pull down on the long pieces to raise the piece around your belly to your chest.
- Cross the long pieces again and bring them behind your back to tie them. If you still have a lot of fabric, double knot in the back and front.
- To carry your newborn, pull the piece closest to your chest on your shoulder away from your body and slide your newborn between your chest and the wrap, facing inward.
- Support your baby and spread the other shoulder piece over your baby’s body.
- Pull the center body piece up and over your baby’s body for complete support. Always keep your baby upright in a wrap.
Safe Babywearing with Slings
With a newborn ring sling carry the baby closer to you than with other options. Carrying your newborn in a sling is easy but can take some practice to get it just right.
- First, thread the fabric of the sling through the rings without letting it get twisted or tangled.
- Put the sling over your shoulder with the rings higher than they should be. Leave your dominant hand free to rest the baby on your dominant shoulder.
- Use your other hand to open the sling and guide the baby’s legs and bottom in.
- Fold up the baby’s legs carefully against you and be sure the baby is facing you. Slide the baby fully into the sling.
- Support the baby with your dominant hand and use your other hand to pull the slack fabric through the ring to tighten the sling around you.
- Pull the bottom rail first, and then the top rail, making sure to always support your baby during the process.
- Spread the fabric as much as possible over your back to distribute the weight evenly, and you’re ready to go. Ring sling newborn carry options are limited, but you can still get a lot of security from this option.
Safe Babywearing with Soft Carriers
These are the most complicated to use with newborn babies. However, it is still possible.
- First, lay the infant insert down on a comfortable, flat surface, such as a bed.
- Position the newborn so that the baby’s bottom rests comfortably on the pillow portion of the insert. The baby’s legs should be allowed to naturally fall where they will.
- The infant insert with the baby inside should then fit snugly into the larger piece of the baby carrier.
- Pick up the baby and make sure his or her feet are not receiving any pressure from your body.
- Make sure the baby’s legs are still in a natural position and strap the carrier onto your shoulders.
- Adjust the straps and you’re ready to go.
Safe babywearing can help with chin, hip and back health for babies
Have you figured out the best way for you to safely carry your newborn on all your daily adventures? Although it’s best not to keep newborn babies out in babywearing carriers for several hours at once without a break, you can very easily keep them safe for normal activities no matter which one of these types of carriers you choose to use. Remember that each one has its own strengths and weaknesses, and it’s completely up to you and your needs (and your baby’s!) to determine which one is right for you.
Keep your newborn’s safety in mind at all times when you plan to practice babywearing. Although this has been a very common practice around the world for centuries, and it remains quite popular, there are always risks that go along with any mode of transportation for your child. You should always want what’s best for your baby, and newborns are a little bit more sensitive to potential issues than older children are.
As long as you keep safety in mind at all times, you should be able to start babywearing with your newborn from day one if you want to. And you can continue this practice for as long as it’s comfortable for both you and your baby. Many parents practice babywearing up to the age of two or so, and many older babies and toddlers get a lot of joy out of being kept close to Mom and Dad for so long.
Whichever method you choose, babywearing can be a fun and pleasant experience for everyone involved. Give it a try soon and see for yourself why this has become such a popular practice with parents all over the world.
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