Search This Blog

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Baby Wearing, Properly and Safely!

 Wearing your baby is the best way to keep baby close while giving you the ability to go about your daily routines without undue stress on your arms and back.  But Safety is Key! Baby carriers save mom and dad's back and arms and make life so much simpler with a small baby (and toddlers!), but like everything in life, it has to be done properly and safely. There are two very important factors to watch out for when wearing your baby:

1- insuring that their head is not slumped forward onto their chest, which can cause their airway to be restricted or even blocked.  This is the danger with slings like those made by Infantino which were recalled  due to several deaths of infants.

2-not carrying the baby with their legs hanging straight down, like the positioning in the Baby Bjorn, Jolly Jumper,and Snuggly  carriers. Whether using these carriers facing you or outwards (forward facing), these carriers leave the babies legs hanging straight down. This puts too much stress on the babies hips and lower spine.

On  Peaceful Parenting Dr. Momma writes about the proper positions for baby wearing safely:

Babywearing: Proper Positioning

Article and Image from Tadpoles & Butterflies
posted with permission
This positioning applies to any carrier – ring sling, pouch, wrap, mei tai & soft structured (buckle) carriers and to babies of all ages. If the carrier does not allow for this positioning, it is not a suitable carrier. Older babies/toddlers should be carried in this same position on your hip or your back.

We recommend always ensuring that your baby is positioned in your carrier as follows:

~ Vertically, on your chest, with baby’s bum at or above your navel
~ Knees above bum, in a frog legged or M position
~ Spine rounded
~ Head turned to the side, with baby’s chin well above his chest to avoid closure of the airway
~ The fabric of the carrier needs to be properly tightened to support your baby in this position. Fabric should be spread from one knee to the other and must not block the baby’s mouth or nose in any way.

You may notice that the manufacturer’s instructions provided with your carrier suggest positioning that does not meet these requirements - forward facing or cradle positions specifically. We recommend against wearing your baby in either of those positions.

Research consistently shows that when babies are held vertically, skin to skin, on a parent’s chest, their heart rate, respiratory rate & temperature are regulated.* Additionally, they cry less, breastfeed more effectively, and develop quicker and more optimally.* Dr Nils Bergman, a physician and scientist who has extensively studied the beneficial practice of keeping babies in their natural habitat (vertically, between their mother's breasts), says, "The baby is in the right place and therefore has the right behavior."...
 HERE to read the entire article on Peaceful Parenting

The Baby Wearer also writes another excellent article on the safe use of slings, answering the constant demand for information that they have been receiving since the wave of bad publicity a few months ago when the Infantino slings were recalled.

CPSC and Infant Sling Safety

In light of the recent advisory by Consumer Product Safety Commission regarding baby sling safety, Babywearing International would like to remind caregivers that wearing an infant in a well-constructed carrier and using proper babywearing techniques are of utmost importance. When done properly, babywearing is a very safe and beneficial parenting tool.

When caregivers learn to use their carriers properly while keeping safety and common sense in mind, babywearing can be just as safe, or safer, as carrying a baby in-arms. At BWI, we view babywearing as a skill that can be learned: many volunteers across the United States and throughout the world are committed to helping mothers learn baby carrier safety and proper babywearing methods.

"Slings are wonderful parenting tools when used properly and safely." said Dr. Lois Balster, a pediatrician and a member of BWI's board of directors. "Using a sling incorrectly is not unlike using an infant car seat without proper installation, infant positioning, and restraints. It is always important to position your baby safely in any carrier or infant-carrying device."

A correctly-used baby carrier's positioning should mimic how you would hold a baby in your arms. A normal in-arms holding position is fairly snug to your chest and somewhat close to your face ("Close Enough to Kiss"). Babywearing advocates have been teaching about the importance of correct newborn positioning for years and warning against the use of slings that do not allow for safe wearing positions....

HERE to read the entire article on The Baby Wearer

HERE is also a link to an excellent PDF article with pictures showing the correct positions for babies in various carriers.

Both Peaceful Parenting and The Baby Wearer have excellent resources for wearing your baby.  Baby Wearers also has probably the most comprehensive list of links to information about how to choose a carrier, "How To" videos and pictures, and instructions from many users for making your own carriers with many many designs to choose from.

Finally, if you have a  Mother-In-Law/Sister/Cousin/Neighbour who constantly tells you that wearing your baby is not healthy and will foster a spoiled insecure child, read Helen Schwalme's article on Natural Mothering about Babywearing:

Why should we carry babies?


A newborn is completely defenseless and is also completely dependant on someone else to meet all of his/her needs. Imagine knowing that and being put down and left alone. How would you feel? How would you know that this person would ever come back again? What if they just left you alone, hungry and scared? On the other hand, what if you were always with your mother, snuggled up securely on her chest where you could feel her heart beating, smell her familiar scent and be close to your food source? Do you not think that this baby would learn that his/her needs will be met, and will learn to trust, resulting in a child that will feel more confident to move away from his/her mother when older? It makes sense when you think about it. A baby who is left alone in a crib, car seat or bassinet for extended periods, who does not have his/her needs met, immediately will either learn to scream louder or, even worse, will shut down.

5 reasons to wear your baby

  1. Wearing your baby gives you your hands back. Do you wonder how you will make dinner, do laundry, vacuum or shop with a new baby? Wearing your baby in a carrier will free your hands for other tasks.
  2. Wearing your baby makes for a happier baby. Studies have shown that babies who are carried are happier. They cry less and are generally calmer. Crying is stressful for both parents and babies, and stress hormones can cause long term damage to a baby's developing brain
  3. Wearing your baby is good exercise for you! New mums find it hard to fit in exercise, but if you carry your growing baby in a sling all day or go for a brisk walk you will be getting good exercise and can nurture your baby at the same time.
  4. Wearing a baby is a great bonding tool for dads, grandparents and other care givers too. New fathers sometimes complain they feel “left out” when mum is breastfeeding, but wearing the baby in a sling is a great way for Dads to bond with their babies. The baby will become accustomed to the sound of Dad's voice and heartbeat, to his smell and let’s face it, who doesn’t think it’s cute to see a Dad walking down the street wearing a baby? Smile
  5. Wearing your baby keeps them in a safe place. The world is a scary, noisy place for a baby. Being worn in a carrier provides the baby with a sense of security and comfort. They are not at the same level as exhaust fumes as they are in a stroller and they maintain the connection to their parent that is not possible in forward-facing strollers and car seat carriers.
HERE to read the entire article on Natural Mothering

But a WARNING:.... Baby wearing is addictive!  and baby carriers can easily become an obsession!! Just ask me and I'll show you my closet full of slings and wraps!!