Baby wearing is as old as mankind itself. Whilst everyone has a different opinion on child rearing, often what prevails and works for many of us is a little common sense as we travel back in time to explore the wisdom and practicalities of other cultures that have been part of our history for many thousands of years.
There are many informative websites, books and pamphlets with various acronyms for remembering babywearing safety tips:
- T.I.C.K.S. rule (Tight, In view, Close enough to kiss, Keep chin off the chest, Supported back); or
- A.B.C. rule (Airway, Body positioning, Comfort);
- CARRY rule: Careful, Airflow, Ride high, Right fit and Your instinct.
- Or the much simpler phrase: Upright and Wrapped Tight!
All of these give you guidance on safer babywearing, and they'll certainly help you to remember points to look for. As a parent, you need to learn to trust yourself and your instinct. Have a think about these other ideas so that you're comfortable with the way that you're carrying your baby:
- Are you going to be constantly worrying? Instead of babywearing on your back, keep your baby in front where you can watch him closely.
- Is your baby positioned in your carrier or sling in a way that you would normally carry him in your arms? You wouldn’t carry your baby low around your hips. Don’t hang your baby carrier down low by your side either.
- When you carry your baby in your arms, are they more content to be upright or cradled? And recall how often you would shift your baby around in your tired arms when in the cradle position, repositioning them. The cradle position is more of a forced position, and newborn babies have very narrow airways. They don't yet have the strength to control or lift their head should the airway be obstructed, which is why it's safer to use upright carriers rather than cradle position slings.
- Observe your baby. Newborns will instinctively assume a frog legged position with their knees higher than their butt, weight supported by their gorgeous chubby thighs and their bottom – your baby carrier should mimic that.
- Has your baby got a bit of a cold? Pay careful attention to their airways.
- Are you nervous about babywearing? Support your baby in you baby carrier with your hands while you both get comfortable, and always bend at the knees, not at the waist.
- Be aware that although baby carriers are practical, you can't do absolutely everything hands free while you carry your baby. Simply being mindful will avoid accidents from happening whilst carrying your baby. For example, while it may be safe enough to peg out the washing while babywearing, cooking is not as safe.
When choosing a baby carrier, do your research. Look for carriers that protect their back and hips, so that their legs aren’t dangling down. Make sure you can see your baby’s face in their carrier, and if you can try before you buy, make sure your carrier is easy to get your baby into a safe position, without fussing or having to make adjustments to buckles and other objects.
You may also want to consider something ‘daddy-proof’ as babywearing also encourages the bond between father and child. Do what feels comfortable for you and baby, trust your instincts, be mindful and observe the benefits of safe and healthy baby wearing.
Benefits of baby wearing
Anecdotally, you may notice that babies who are carried will cry less. Studies have backed this up, though it appears glaringly obvious when these studies in Western countries measure a baby’s crying in hours, whilst other cultures measure baby’s crying in minutes. Carried babies appear content. They may even learn more, as they are in a state of quiet alertness, interacting with their babywearing mother and baby’s environment, stimulating brain development instead of crying and fussing.
Babywearing in an upright position also promotes good digestion, believed to ease the troubling symptoms of colic and reflux. There’s also a highly practical element to baby wearing, allowing mothers the comfort of closeness as they go about their daily routine – as well as discreet and convenient breastfeeding – and such practicalities that help support a happy mother equals a happy baby.
But what about the long term affects? Won’t a baby that is held too frequently end up too clingy and spoilt? Not at all. In fact, modern research indicates that secure, content babies grow up with a solid sense of self-esteem, initiating separation from their baby wearing mother when they are ready, often a lot earlier than babies that are less frequently held.
What is Babywearing?
Ultimate Guide to Babywearing
And some more:
Benefits of Babywearing
Babywearing - The Benefits of Wearing Your Baby
The Benefits of Babywearing
Babywearing is Safe
Is My Sling Safe?
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