OK, so maybe you aren’t going to the Oscars to accept an Academy Award. Maybe you are just going to Target to have social interactions with other adults, pick up some diapers, and look at all the pretty things. So, why am I asking who you are wearing? I’m not talking about what clothing designer you are wearing. I’m talking about wearing your baby!
Wearing your baby can make your life a lot easier (not to mention it also can reduce infant crying, create a healthier baby, and reduce postpartum depression.) Imagine, two hands to push that red cart (or one hand on the cart, the other holding a Starbucks cup.) Sure, you could lug that infant carseat out of your vehicle and into the store. You know the one that weighs 10 times as much as your actual baby? It’s always great to work those biceps but the truth is that your baby would prefer to be snuggled close to you. Especially in loud, bright, busy places. You won’t have to worry as much about enthusiastic strangers leaning over to greet your baby in their car seat. That can be really nice perk in the flu season. Some seasoned parents can even pull of feeding their baby while wearing them and shopping or doing other tasks. Don’t worry if that sounds overwhelming, you can start at the basics and decide if you want to level up your baby wearing skills. So, what do I mean by baby wearing? Well, there are many options available to parents today for how to wear their baby.
Carriers: The options come in a variety of price ranges from around $30 – over $200. If you are crafty you can find DIY instructions online to make most types of carriers and then the key is just finding the right fabric. If you are buying a used carrier be sure that the carrier meets the USA safety standards and hasn’t been recalled.
You have five types of carriers to choose from
- Wraps – Various lengths and fabrics, good for carrying infants – toddlers. You can carry your child on your hip, front, or back so it is very versatile but it does have a learning curve as the long length of fabric can be a bit overwhelming at first. (This was my favorite option for my kids once I got the hang of it.)
- Ring Slings– Made of nylon or metal rings with a long fabric looping through. These are adjustable so as baby grows you won’t need a different size. One end of the fabric is longer and called the tail and can be used to cover your baby, or an older child can hold the tail as you walk along.
- Pouch Slings- These are the easiest to DIY. A simple loop of smooth fabric that you can pop on and off for quick use. It isn’t as supportive to your body as other carriers and so your shoulder may get tired if you are wearing it for long periods of time. These are sized specific to your child and so they will be outgrown.
- Mei Tai- This consist of a panel of fabric with two shorter strips of fabric that tie around the waist and two longer straps that go over the shoulders. Ideal for babies and toddlers, front or back carrying is most common with these.
- Buckle Carriers– These are a great option for family members who want to wear your baby but don’t want a lesson. They snap on easily and provider support by going around the waist and shoulders much like the Mei Tai. You can carry infants to toddlers depending on the brand.
Each has their own advantages and I highly recommend finding a local baby wearing group where you can test them out for yourself and get a lesson. These meetings are usually free and a great way to meet other parents.
Most doulas are also a great help on figuring out how to use your carrier so be sure to ask them. Practicing prenatally with a doll may be a lot less intimidating when you are first starting out.
Hunziker UA, Garr RG. (1986) Increased carrying reduces infant crying: A random-ized controlled trial. Pediatrics 77:641-648
“Current knowledge about skin-to-skin (kangaroo) care for pre-term infants”. J Perinatol. 1991 Sep;11(3):216-26.
Pelaez-Nogueras M, Field TM, Hossain Z, Pickens J. (1996). Depressed mothers’ touching increases infants’ positive affect and attention in still-face interactions. Child Development, 67, 1780-92.
Tessier R, M Cristo, S Velez, M Giron, JG Ruiz-Palaez, Y Charpak and N Charpak. (1998) Kangaroo mother care and the bonding hypothesis. Pediatrics 102:e17.
-Heathir Brown, Co-founder of Blissful Beginnings LLC and Doula Trainer for Birth Arts International. www.heathirbrown.com