Baby carriers have gotten pretty trendy lately, not just because of how they look but also because of the awesome benefits of babywearing. These practical carriers help you keep your baby safe and close while freeing up your hands to do your daily tasks.
Apart from easing your everyday life, experts have highlighted other benefits such as supporting your baby’s posture, regulating your baby’s heartbeat and temperature, reducing crying, helping with breastfeeding, improving the bond between you and your baby, and helping your baby sleep better and longer. Of course, you’ll only get to enjoy these benefits if you use a good baby carrier.
Keep reading to learn how to babywear like a pro!
1. Choose the Right Carrier for your Baby
There are many types of baby carriers on the market, so it is important that you choose one that is suitable for your baby’s age, weight, and height. If you buy one that’s too small or too big, it would be unsafe for your baby, even if you wear it properly.
Here are the most popularly-used baby carriers:
- Wrap: As the name implies, this type of baby carrier can be wrapped around your body. Wraps are usually either soft or woven. The soft or stretchy type is recommended for smaller or younger babies, while the woven straps can be used to carry larger babies.
- Ring Sling: This type is made from a wrap and two rings. The rings are sewn into a part of the wrap so that it can be worn on one shoulder, thus creating a nice sturdy pouch for your baby.
- Soft Structured Carrier: This carrier is perfect for infants because it features straps and buckles that keep them secure. It also provides head support.
- Meh Dai/Mei Tai: This is pronounced ‘may tie’ and it is simply a wrap with straps. Most parents and caregivers prefer this to wraps because it is easier to wear and also more comfortable and adjustable.
2. Know the Safest Babywearing Positions and When to Use Them
Once you’ve picked the best baby carrier for your baby, the next step is to learn the right baby carrying positions.
The safest and most common positions are:
- Inward facing: This is probably the best position for babies between 0-4 months. Your baby will be facing you, with their head and neck supported. You’ll need a well-padded baby carrier for this.
- Outward-facing: This position is for babies 4 months and up. At this age, they should have a stronger neck and require less head support. Your baby will still be facing you but will be able to move their head around and observe their surroundings.
- Hip carrying: You can start carrying your adventurous 6-month-old baby on your hips so that they can have more room to move about and also play with their toys. Just ensure that they are properly strapped in.
- Back carrying: This position is also suitable for babies 6 months and older. It is great for when you’re taking a long walk or doing activities that require both arms.
3. Follow the T.I.C.K.S Rule
The T.I.C.K.S Rule is the one thing you must never forget when babywearing. It will help prevent suffocation and also improve your baby’s neck strength.
T.I.C.K.S stands for:
- Tight: Your baby carrier should have head support and be tight so that your baby won’t fall. An upright position will help your baby breathe better.
- In view at all times: You should be able to see your baby’s face clearly whenever you look down.
- Close enough to kiss: Ensure your baby is high enough and close enough for you to easily kiss their head.
- Keep chin off the chest: Again, your baby needs to be sitting upright. Their chin should be above their chest so that they can breathe properly.
- Supported back: The carrier should be tight enough to support your baby’s back, but also loose enough that you can put your hand inside the sling to feel your baby.
4. If You Have to Bend, Do It at the Knees
You should always, always, bend at the knees or legs, and not at your waist or back. This will ensure that your baby remains in an upright position and doesn’t slip out when you bend. It will also help you keep your balance.
5. Ensure Healthy Hip Positioning
When putting your baby in the baby carrier, make sure that your baby’s hips are bent and the legs spread apart. Your baby’s legs should always be straddling your body. This will allow for good hip development, and also prevent hip dysplasia (a condition where the hip joint is loose or deformed).
6. Practice Babywearing Without the Baby
This should go without saying, but please don’t practice babywearing for the first time with your baby (or anyone else’s).
You can use a stuffed animal, small pillow, bag of chips, anything that you can conveniently carry. Be sure to read the carrier’s instruction manual and practice how to wear it, take it off, and use the straps or buckles. After this, you can try out the different positions and maybe the first three parts of the T.I.C.K.S rule.
Other Tips on Babywearing
- Choose baby carriers that have strong buckles or snaps.
- Make sure that the fabric is soft, skin-friendly, and does not have tears or holes.
- Always dress appropriately. Dress for the weather so that your baby can maintain a normal temperature and breathing pattern.
- Be extra careful when walking. You will be more likely to slip or trip because of your baby’s weight, so you need to be more mindful of your surroundings.
- Never lie down when babywearing. Remember that your baby needs to be in an upright position, so be sure to remove the baby carrier, or at least take your baby out of it, before lying down.
- Have your hot coffee or soup before putting your baby in their carrier. You don’t want to be startled and accidentally spill hot food on their precious head.