Babywearing 101

Mothers throughout the world have been wearing their children for thousands of years.  What mom doesn’t want her sweet baby snuggled close to her heart? But, the benefits of babywearing extend far beyond the joy of inhaling that newborn smell with every step.

babywearing1For parents, wearing a baby makes life much more convenient. It frees up both hands to help with all of that multi-tasking you’re doing.  It’s much easier to do chores, chase your toddler, and walk the dog when you aren’t using one arm to support a baby. Babywearing is also great for situations that aren’t ideal for pushing a bulky stroller.  I love being able to navigate a Mardis Gras parade or walk around while tailgating at an LSU football game without worrying about having enough room for my stroller.  Baby carriers are even supportive enough to allow you to breastfeed without having to find somewhere to sit.

Little ones also love the comfort of being worn.  It makes them feel safe, and your close physical presence promotes bonding.  Babywearing is great for babies who cry often.  Many moms have found that the only thing that calms a crying newborn is being held.  Using a baby carrier allows you to hold your baby for long periods without becoming fatigued.  The best carriers even come with sleepy dust! It’s not uncommon for Etta Mae to sneak in a nap while I wear her at the grocery store or while walking around the Baton Rouge Zoo.

There are several categories of carriers available and each category has dozens of brands, styles, and patterns.

  • Stretchy Wraps like the Moby are great for newborns.  They consist of a long, stretchy piece of fabric that can be wrapped numerous ways around your baby. The best way to learn the different wrapping techniques is by watching videos on YouTube.
  • Woven Wraps are similar to stretchy wraps, but they are made of more supportive fabrics and do not stretch.  Woven wraps come in several lengths and give you the flexibility to wear your baby in the front or on your back or hip. There is a bit of a learning curve, but many experience babywearers find that woven wraps give them the most options for carrying their babies from newborn to toddler age.

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  • Ring Slings, such as Sakura Bloom, are pieces of fabric worn over one shoulder and adjusted by sliding the fabric through metal rings. They are great for short trips or errands because they make it easy to get baby in and out quickly.
  • Soft Structured Carriers are made from a panel of fabric with straps that either tie or buckle around the wearer.  They typically require less learning than other types of carriers and can be used for front or back carries.  A few popular brands are Ergo, Tula, and Kinderpack.

Once you have selected a carrier, it’s important to make sure that your baby is properly positioned.  You should carry your baby just like you would hold her, and she should be close enough to kiss. Small babies typically prefer a “froggy” legged position with their legs inside the carrier.  Babies who are old enough to be carried with their legs out should be supported by the carrier from knee to knee.  Their knees should be slightly higher than their bottoms, creating an “M” shape. Carriers that allow your baby’s legs to dangle can cause discomfort for you and put strain on her hips and spine.  Outward facing carriers should generally be avoided.  They typically do not provide proper ergonomic support.  Also, small babies can be easily over-stimulated when facing outward.

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The most important thing to consider when wearing your baby is safety.  Inspect your carriers regularly to be sure they are not damaged in any way that could compromise their use.  A few other important safety considerations are:

  • Be sure that your baby’s chin is not curled down to her chest as this could obstruct her airway. Also, make sure there is nothing over your baby’s face that could make breathing difficult.
  • Be aware of what is around you.  Your baby may be able to reach things on a counter or shelf.
  • Do not wear your baby while cooking hot foods, riding in a car, or doing any kind of dangerous activities.
  • You may want to use a spotter until you are comfortable securing your baby in the carrier, especially when attempting back carries

Happy Babywearing!

How has babywearing made your life easier? What is your favorite baby carrier?

Ashley grew up in Joplin, Missouri and attended the University of Arkansas where she earned a degree in Finance and Insurance. She met her husband, Jason, in Fayetteville and they have one daughter, Etta Mae. They moved to Baton Rouge in 2013 for Jason's job with the LSU Tigers. Ashley is an extroverted introvert who loves Ted Talks, following politics on Twitter, and figuring out how to get the best deals on everything without paying shipping. If it were up to her, she would get paid to read books and take every college class so that she could learn everything about everything, but instead she pays the bills by working in recruiting for a multinational tech company. Ashley is blessed to have a daughter who is at least as stubborn as she is and a husband who is laid back enough to put up with both of them.

7 COMMENTS

  1. What is your preference for wearing toddlers? I have 3 kids
    under 3 and an awesome double stroller, but I don’t always know
    what to do with the third kid 🙂 I loved the wrap for my babies as
    newborns & babies, but I think I should move to something
    sturdier for the next couple of years. Since it’s so hot here I
    also want to consider something that’s not too hot & heavy.
    Thanks!

  2. I’m a big fan of structured carriers for my toddler because
    she likes to be up and down a lot. There are a few companies that
    make carriers that have a mesh like panel in the middle to help
    with airflow. Kinderpack uses a material called koolnit and
    Bamberoo uses Solarveil. I do have a lot of friends who use wraps
    for their toddlers. You just have to make sure to get a sturdier
    blend like a linen or hemp (although hemp can be pretty warm) blend
    to prevent sagging from the additional weight. Hope that
    helps!

  3. I carry my 2, 4, and even occasionally my 5yo using an
    ergo. I LOVE it! I also use it for hiking and my hiking pack has
    barely ever been used b/c it is SO much more uncomfortable (almost
    impossible).

  4. Love it! And I love my Moby and Ergo. Having to chase around my 2 year old with an infant would be impossible without a carrier. I just can’t figure out how to nurse my 3 month old in it though. What’s the secret?!

  5. I personally never used a Moby, but I know there are some YouTube videos on how to nurse in one. Have you looked at those? The same is true with the Ergo if you’re more visual, that’s the best way to find tutorials. With the Ergo, you can loosen the straps which will lower baby down so that it’s easier to nurse. I always like to wear a tank under my shirt, so that I can pull up my shirt without showing off my tummy.

  6. You can also make your own Moby by buying 6 yards of fabric and asking the store employee to cut it in half vertically (making two really long and thinner pieces). TWO Instant Moby Wraps- I always left one in my car! Oh, yeah, I guess that means you really didn’t even make it, someone else did for you haha! I did this with #3 and LOVED it! Google for instructions on how to tie the wrap!

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