Babywearing 101

Babywearing, or the practice of keeping your baby close to you in a carrier, is gaining momentum as the public is becoming more and more aware of the benefits. However, getting started can seem a little overwhelming with all the available options, styles of carriers and schools of thought on the “right” way to wear your baby. Here is a quick guide to get you started.

There Is No ‘Right’ Way to Wear Your Baby

Some mothers feel that they want to have their little one in a carrier as close to 24/7 as possible. Some mothers feel that a few hours a day is sufficient. Still others only wear their babies when they are out and about to keep their hands free. The bottom line is this: You have to decide how often and where you are most comfortable wearing your baby. Any amount of time they get close to you is beneficial, so don’t let anyone accuse you of ‘spoiling’ your baby. You aren’t spoiling them, you are a meeting their biological need for closeness.

Toddlers Benefit from Babywearing, Too!

There is no magical cutoff for when your baby ‘outgrows’ being worn. Many babies are happy as little clams to be worn well into their second or even third year, while some babies get squirmy the second they are able to move about on their own. Just listen to your child and trust your instincts.

Photo by matsber via Flickr Creative Commons

Structured Carriers and Ring Slings and Wraps… Oh My!

Possibly the most overwhelming part of babywearing is choosing the right sling or carrier for you. Take a deep breath, and realize that there is no magical right answer, and that you and your baby’s preference may change over time. Here is a quick overview of the types of carriers available:

Type Examples Pros Cons
Structured Carrier Ergo, Beco, Mei Tais
  • Most Dad Friendly Style
  • Most can be worn on the front or back
  • Adjustable
  • Cooler in hot weather
  • Easy to get on and off
  • Accommodate older babies and toddlers with ease
  • Distributes baby’s weight evenly across shoulders to reduce pressure and strain
  • May require inserts for younger infants
  • Can be pricey
  • Limited number of positions for baby
  • Difficult to nurse in
  • Does not offer much privacy for nursing
Wrap Moby, K’Tan, Sleepy Wrap
  • Most adjustable style
  • Require no special equipment for younger infants
  • Perfect for Kangaroo Care
  • Greatest number of options for baby position
  • Accommodate older babies and toddlers with ease
  • Distributes baby’s weight evenly across shoulders to reduce pressure and strain
  • Can be very hot in summer months
  • Some require a lot of effort and a learning curve to get on and off
  • Can be tricky to adjust baby for nursing on the go
Ring/Adjustable Sling Snuggy Baby, Peanut Shell Adjustable, Dr Sears
  • Adjustable for a wide range of moms and dads
  • Shape is excellent for cradling newborns and younger infants
  • Easy to nurse baby on the go
  • Not a great option for older babies and toddler
  • Can put uneven pressure on spine and shoulders
  • Limited number of positions for baby
  • Can be dangerous if baby slides too far down into sling
Pocket/Pouch Sling Seven Slings, Original Peanut Shell
  • Shape is excellent for cradling newborns and younger infants
  • Customized fit
  • Easy to “throw on and go”
  • Easy to nurse baby on the go
  • No adjustability
  • Not a great option for older babies and toddlers
  • Limited number of positions for baby
  • Can put uneven pressure on spine and shoulders
  • Can be dangerous if baby slides too far down into sling

A Few Important Reminders

    • Always check your carrier’s instructions and follow them to ensure your child’s safety.
    • Always ensure that your baby can breathe. This includes making sure that smaller infants’ chins are not touching their chests and that babies of any age do not have their face completely covered.
    • Avoid any structured carrier that does not distribute baby’s weight across their thighs and places pressure on their hip sockets! For more information on that, please go here.

For more great information, check out these sites:

I hope this helps you get started and happy babywearing! It will be one of the greatest joys you will ever experience!

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