Baby wearing is a great way to meet the needs of both mother and baby. It is a traditional practice in many cultures around the world. Baby wearing isn’t specific to any parenting philosophy or specific carrier, but about the bonds between the baby and the carrier and about the benefits it provides. Carried babies sleep, feed, and grow better. Studies even show that carried 6 week olds cried 43% less than other children.
Our spine has normal natural curves that provides us with flexibility and balance. They also absorb stresses of our everyday life, such as walking and running. However, we are not born with these curves. These curves develop gradually over time, adapting to gravity. An infant is born in a state of flexion, a long C shaped spine. At first, a baby can not hold his head up. As the neck muscles get stronger, he can start to life and hold his head up, forming a cervical/neck curve. As your baby starts to crawl, the lower curve is formed as the abdominal and lower baby muscles develop.
While tummy time and various activities are important and encourage proper spinal development, baby wearing can support the developmental stages, as well as provide multiple benefits that various baby ‘containers’ do not provide.
Proper positioning of the infant in the carriers is important to help support, and not hinder, proper spinal and hip development. The ideal position of the carrying baby is with the legs spread apart 90 degrees, and legs bent past 90 degrees into flexion in a seated position. This position creates an M shape, which is ideal for a healthy and natural position of the hip joint and limits the potential for future hip problems. This position is best achieved with the baby carried on the front, facing the carrier. This position can also be achieved by side wearing and back wearing. Outward facing babies do not allow for proper hip positioning or proper spinal positioning of the baby, nor proper weight distribution for the carrier.
Benefits of baby wearing:
It facilitates bonding and allows for skin to skin contact.
It supports breastfeeding.
It makes caregiving and other activities easier.
It helps provide a gentle way of transitioning babies from the womb to the outside world.
It supports proper physical development.
Burping, digestion, and bowel movements are easier.
Movements are more rhythmic and soothing to the baby
How to carry properly:
Although baby wearing is comfortable and makes things easier, there are some rules to follow. All you have to remember is ‘TICKS’.
T: Tight: The most comfortable position for mom and baby is for the carrier to be tight enough to hold your baby close. If the fabric is loose or has slack, the baby will slump down in the carrier, which can hinder their breathing and put a strain on your back.
I: In view at all time: You should be able to see your baby’s face by just glancing down. You should not have to move or open the fabric to see their face. In the cradle position, the baby should be faced upward, not towards your body.
C: Close enough to kiss: Your baby’s head should be close to your chin, in a comfortable position. You should be able to bend your head forward and kiss your baby’s head or forehead
K: Keep chin off the chest: Your baby’s chin should not be close to their chest, as this can restrict their breathing. A good rule to follow is to have at least one finger width of space under their chin.
S: Supported back: Upright carriers: The back of the baby should be supported in its natural position, with their belly and chest next to the carrier.
Sling carriers: The baby should be placed where their bottom is in the deepest part of the sling, so it does not close around them.
Resources for more information on baby wearing: