Babywearing: what you need to know
There are so many baby carriers on the market today! If you are a first-time mama (or a first-time babywearing mama), it can be hard to know which style is best. There are a few things that can help narrow your search for the perfect carrier and to help you narrow the search, I’ve asked local baby wearing expert Esther to answer some of our frequently asked questions!
Why should I wear my baby?
There are so many good reasons to wear your baby. Babywearing is proven to: strengthen the bond between baby and mom/dad, help babies regulate their temperature, prevent flattened head syndrome (positional plagiocephaly), calm and soothe babies by giving a sense of security and reducing stress and can also help in the development of language.
What are the main types of baby carriers?
The main types of baby carriers are:
- Wraps can be stretchy or woven. They are long pieces of fabric (such as cotton, linen, hemp and wool) and can be used to carry babies in several different positions.
- Meh dai (also known as mei tai) is an Asian style baby carrier. It has a panel of square fabric with 4 straps attached to it (two for around the waist and two for over the shoulders).
- Ring slings are made with fabric that gets pulled through 2 rings (sewn on one end of the fabric).
- Soft structured carriers sit on your waist and feature buckles and straps to secure baby tightly to your body.
What carriers are best for which ages?
Most baby carriers can be used safely with newborns weighing 8 lbs or more. In order to respect the physiological position of a newborn (less than 3 months), a stretchy or woven wrap, a ring sling or a meh dai are the best carriers. That said, most manufacturers of soft structured carriers are now offering newborn inserts for their carriers so that parents can safely use their soft structured carriers to carry their newborn.
It is important to know that because ring slings are worn on one shoulder only, it may become difficult to carry a heavier baby (more than 15 or 20 lbs) for a long period of time in these carriers.
Can I breastfeed with a baby in the carrier?
Breastfeeding with a baby in the carrier is both safe and practical. Experts usually recommend waiting until breastfeeding is well established and until the baby has good neck control (this happens around 4 months of age). It’s important to remember that the recommended position for the nursing baby in a carrier is upright (not horizontal).
Can I babywear in the winter months?
Yes! Babywearing during the winter is very convenient. For babies less than one year of age, my personal preference is to wear them inside your own winter coat using a coat extension. Coat extensions will allow both the baby and the carrier to fit comfortable inside your regular winter coat. This makes it really easy for moms to monitor their baby’s temperature and it’s certainly more comfortable for the baby (as compared to putting him/her in their own snowsuit).
For babies over one year, you can dress them in their own snowsuit and carry them on your back (often most comfortable), in the carrier of your choice.
At what age can I carry my baby on my back?
The official recommendation in Canada is to wait until babies can go from belly or back to a seated position by themselves (this normally occurs sometime between 6 and 9 months). However, some manufacturers recommend waiting until baby is one year old before wearing them on your back.
Are there any good online references for parents to ensure baby is positioned correctly in the carrier?
Each baby carrier is different and therefore, your best reference will always be the manufacturer’s instruction booklet or video. Health Canada can also be a good reference for tips, pictures and general information on babywearing.
Visit Esther’s Facebook page for more information: www.facebook.com/estherportage