Baby carrier is one of the essential baby gears as it helps to carry your little one without hurting your arms or back.
However, it is important to wear it properly for attaining the benefits. If not, then it will cause discomfort to your back. Also, it would cause back pain to you.
If it is the first time using the baby wearing, then this article will very helpful. In this write-up, we will explore the different types of carriers and different positions of babywearing. We shall also discuss the safety guidelines to follow when wearing it.
Let us dive into our discussion.
Do You Need a Carrier?
The first question one should always ask self is that is carrier a necessity. Since there are other alternatives available to carry your child, using a carrier is something one needs to think about before purchasing it.
You could use a stroller when you are out and about and use a swing or bouncy seat, when at home. Why should you go for a carrier? The answer to this question is that this item to carry your little one gives you a hands-free experience. And the best part, your child can relax against you when wearing it.
A baby carrier is the favourite baby product for many parents, and they love to use it, irrespective of the brand. Apart from helping to wear the child, the carrier also keeps your hands free from holding the stroller. What’s more? You can easily navigate places with your child without them being upset or cry. Did I tell you that you can use it when hiking, as well! Yes, you can use this carrier to take your baby along with you.
While some parents prefer using a baby carrier to carry their little ones when they are very small, some others continue to use it till their child reaches the toddler stage. Starting from, when your child is new born to when it starts walking and likes to roam free, you can use a carrier for wearing your baby.
What Are the Types Of Baby Carriers?
Baby carriers are available in different types each with its benefits and specifications. Even before you choose to purchase one, there are a few things one needs to consider. They are – the age of the child, his size, and the development stages. Depending on these parameters, below are some of the most common types of baby carriers available in the market:
- Soft Wrap
- Woven Wrap
- Ring Sling
- Mei Tai
- Soft Structured Carrier
- Baby Carrier Backpacks
Let us discuss about each type in detail below:
a) Soft Wrap
A soft wrap is nothing but a long piece of cloth made from a blend of cotton and synthetic fabrics like Lycra or Spandex. Some people may even call it a stretchy wrap.
How do you wear soft wrap?
You can wear a soft wrap by wrapping it around your body and then place your child inside of it.
A soft wrap is ideal for younger babies because of the fabric’s nature.
However, wearing a soft wrap is not as easy as one thinks. There is a lot of learning and practice involved in it. You can do it using online videos.
It is always advisable and the best option to practice wearing using a doll or pillow at home.
Once you get the hang of it, you can start using it to carry your baby.
b) Woven Wrap
Similar to a soft wrap, a woven wrap is a long piece of fabric.
How do you wear woven wrap?
You can wear a woven wrap similarly to a soft wrap. Wrap the fabric around your body and then place your child inside of it. However, these wraps are available in various lengths that are suitable for people of different body sizes and shapes, and also, carrying positions.
The woven wraps are more ideal for carrying larger babies or toddlers comfortably.
You may ask what is the significant difference between a soft wrap and a woven wrap! Well, it is the fabric. A woven wrap has a stiffer and more structured fabric that enables you to carry older babies. These baby carriers are more comfortable, and many people love using them.
However, the only drawback is that even a woven wrap needs a lot of learning and practice on how to tie it.
c) Ring Sling
A ring sling is another type of baby carrier typically made of a sturdy woven fabric. It is cut into a piece of specific length and comes woven together at the shoulder with rings to create a sling for carrying the baby.
How do you wear a ring sling?
As the name says, you wear it like a sling to your shoulder. After putting over the fabric, thread the rings by adjusting the wrap and create a seat for the child. Now place your baby inside and wrap the fabric around your little one’s back to your neck to secure the position.
Ring slings are available in various sizes for newborns, infants, and toddlers. However, you may find it uncomfortable carrying heavy babies. You may find excess pressure on one side of your shoulder when wearing it for an extended period.
d) Mei Tai
Pronounced as “may tie”, these carriers are a traditional and centuries-old style of wearing babies. These baby carriers originated in Asia. Mei Tai is nothing but a panel of fabric that consists of two straps that go around the waist and the other two straps that go around the shoulder.
How do you wear a Mei Tai carrier?
Wearing a Mei Tai carrier is very simple. You wear it either to your front, back or hip.
After wearing it, secure the waistbands around your waist.
Place the baby inside the carrier by bringing the body between the child’s legs.
Now, drape the shoulder straps around your shoulder one at a time by holding your baby. After finishing, pull the straps downwards to your hips in the opposite direction.
Create a cross under the baby’s bum and tie the shoulder straps with a double knot at your back.
The straps of these baby carriers are wide and enable you to carry your baby comfortably, even for prolonged periods.
These baby carriers are most suitable for infants to toddlers. You can adjust them easily, and hence multiple caregivers can use them in your family.
However, one may not feel comfortable carrying a baby weighing more than 20 pounds.
e) Soft Structured Carrier
The soft structured carriers are nothing but easy-to-use carriers that come in multiple carrying positions. These are the most popular carriers that many parents prefer using for babywearing. They contain a soft padded structure that supports the head, back, and bottom of the baby incorporated straps and buckles.
How do you wear a soft structured carrier?
Also known as the grab-and-go carrier, a soft structured carrier is quick and easy to use. It resembles a backpack, and you can wear it in the front or back with balanced support. It creates a snug where you place your baby inside in a comfortable position both for you and the baby. Secure the baby with the help of straps and buckles.
A soft structured carrier is ideal for infants and toddlers. These carriers come in a variety of styles and look for accommodating babies of various heights and weights.
However, these are not for carrying new born babies. Either they must come designed for being able to carry new borns, or they should have a new born inset added for this purpose.
f) Baby Carrier Backpacks
As the name says, these baby carrier backpacks are for carrying children to fewer exotic trips like the park, outdoors, malls, etc. These carriers contain an aluminium frame and densely padded waist or hip belts that help in evenly distributing the baby’s weight. It also has shoulder straps, seats and shoulder harnesses, shoulder compartments, a built-in stand, and some extras. These attachments make the carrier backpack nothing but great for the outdoors.
How do you wear a baby carrier backpack?
Wearing a baby carrier backpack is very easy and similar to wearing your regular backpack. Place the baby inside the carrier and secure it by using the seat and shoulder harness. Now, wear the backpack and secure your shoulder straps. These are lightweight carriers that optimize comfort for both the child and parents with adjustable straps.
The baby carrier backpacks are ideal for infants or toddlers who are able to sit independently.
These carriers offer great support and comfort to the babies when carrying them.
However, it is advisable to keep checking on them to ensure their comfort. Before you start using them, it is advisable to practice putting the backpack on, taking it off, and securing the child.
How to Carry Baby in the Right Position?
While choosing the right baby carrier is crucial, one should not neglect the position of the baby inside it. For that, you first need to determine the baby carrying position. But how do you do that? You need to consider some parameters like the weight and age of the child, his size, and the development stages. Also, refer to the user manual for the instructions and other information like the minimum age and weight.
Below are some of the common positions for carrying the baby in a carrier:
Facing In: For Infants of 0+ Months
Facing in position is ideal for newborns and small infants who need holding their neck firm and require proper head support. When you are carrying your babies in this position, it is highly advisable to put them in the M-position. The significance of this position is that it keeps the knees of the child a little higher than the bottom. This helps in protecting the hips of your little one.
Facing Out: For Infants From 4-6+ Months
The facing out position is ideal for those babies who just passed the newborn stage. They do not need neck or head support but can hold their heads up firmly by themselves. Such infants can look and experience the world, while still being close to their mother’s tummy.
Hip Carry: For Infants of 6+ Months
The hip carry position is for infants more than six months old. It would be easy to carry such babies in this position and be comfortable for both the little one and the carrier. It allows the baby to face in while the carrier’s hips straddle further, making it versatile for the carrier.
Back Carry: For Infants of 6+ Months
The back carry position is primarily for those babies who are able to sit up on their own. This position is ideal for exotic outings like adventures, hiking, etc. This allows the carrier to keep his arms and front free. Besides that, it also allows the little one the freedom to look around.
How Can I Keep My Baby Safe in the Sling or Carrier?
No matter what position you are carrying your baby in, or what type of carrier you are using. There are specific safety guidelines one needs to follow. You cannot be negligible when it comes to infants and babies. Here are some of the points you need to keep in mind when using a sling or carrier.
As the first step, check for the instructions in the user manual. Look for information like the appropriate size, weight, and age of the baby for carrying in the sling or carrier.
Secondly, always check for the signs of damage or wear and tear before using the sling or carrier. If you notice any, it is better not to use it.
When you carry your baby in the sling or carrier, it is highly advisable to keep checking on them often. You need to make sure that they are comfortable in that position and ensure nothing is blocking their nose and mouth.
You need to check whether you are babywearing safely by using the T.I.C.K.S Rule. This is a safety checklist proposed and created by the Consortium of UK Sling Manufacturers and Retailers. Let us take a look at what T.I.C.K.S means:
T – Tight
Be it a sling or any type of baby carrier, one should always ensure that it is tight enough to hold the baby close to you in a hug. When the fabric of the carrier is loose, it causes the baby to slide down inside the carrier. This may not allow them to breathe properly and also put extra pressure on your back because of the pull.
I – In View At All Times
The baby should always be in view at all times when you are carrying it. You should be able to see the little one’s face just by taking a glance down. You should wear it in such a way that the fabric does not close the child. Else, you may have to open it to check on the little one. You can prevent this from happening by putting the baby in a cradle position, where he faces upwards and does not turn in towards your body.
C – Close Enough To Kiss
The head of the baby should be so close to your chin that you can easily kiss it. To ensure this position, try to tip your head forward. If you are able to kiss the baby’s head or forehead, you are babywearing safely.
K – Keep Chin Off The Chest
The next safety guideline for babywearing is that the baby’s chin should never rest on his chest. This would hinder their breathing. Ensure that there is at least one finger gap between the baby’s chin and his chest.
S – Supported Back:
When you are carrying your baby in an upright carrier or sling, it should allow you to wear your baby comfortably close to you. This allows appropriate support to their back in its natural position. Moreover, their tummy and chest should be against you. You can ensure the same by testing for the baby’s supported back. Put your hand on its back and press gently. If your baby does not uncurl or if he remains in his position, then you are babywearing safely
Let us say your child is in a cradle carry or pouch. Ensure that their bottom sits secured in the deepest part of the sling. Doing so allows your baby not to get folded and prevents their chin from getting pressed to their chest.
What are the Safety Tips for Babywearing?
As mentioned earlier, you should not neglect anything when it comes to babies. Because nothing matters more than the baby’s comfort and protection. When carrying the baby in a carrier there are certain dos and don’ts one needs to pay attention to. This ensures the safe wearing of the baby. Let us have a look at what they are.
Dos When Babywearing:
1. Make sure your baby is in the correct position when babywearing.
When carrying your baby in a carrier, ensure that he or she sits in the correct position with his neck, head, and back fully supported.
- Make sure that the fabric does not close but always open.
- The baby’s chin is off his chest.
- He is close enough to you.
- He is positioned higher up on your torso.
- You should be able to kiss his head or forehead when you just bend down.
2. Make the baby sit inside the carrier in an ergonomic position.
When you place the baby inside the carrier, ensure he sits in an ergonomic position. That is, his legs should be wide, the spread-squat position where his knees are higher than his body, the M-shaped position. Doing so ensures the spine, hips, and legs of your baby get the required support. This further helps prevent hip dysplasia.
3. Secure and lock the fasteners.
After positioning your baby inside the carrier, secure the straps, buckles, etc. Make sure all the fasteners are locked and double-check if the little one is safe and secured inside.
4. Check for signs of wear and tear on the fabric.
Before using the baby carrier, check for any signs of damage or wear and tear. If you notice any, avoid using it as it is unsafe.
5. Be cautious and alert when babywearing.
One should always be cautious and alert when babywearing. There may be chances of falling during this process. Hence, the parents or caregivers should watch out for the surroundings and be careful when on stairs, slippery surfaces, and other areas where tripping is inevitable.
Don’ts When Babywearing:
1. Do not overdress the baby.
Never overdress your baby when carrying him in a baby carrier. Since he remains close to you when babywearing, it would cause overheat to him inside. Depending on the season, the temperature indoors and outdoors, you need to decide how you should dress your baby and yourself.
2. Do not lie down while using a baby carrier.
Never lie down when using a baby carrier. It is strictly not recommended. Babies should always sit in an upright position inside the carrier. When you lie down, it disturbs the posture of the little one. If you want to lie down, make sure you remove the baby from the carrier.
3. Do not bend down when babywearing.
If you want to pick something when babywearing, do not bend. Instead, keep your legs straight and then bend at your knees. This guarantees the upright position of the baby is intact.
4. Do not use a baby carrier when performing intense physical activities.
Never use a baby carrier when performing activities like running, biking, skiing, etc. It is a strict no-no. However, you can carry on with some light physical activities like walking, hiking, and yoga when babywearing. But, doing intense physical activities using the baby carrier is highly unsafe for the baby and you, as well. Moreover, it is not advisable, too.
5. Do not drink hot beverages or eat hot foods when babywearing.
Again, this is something one needs to be mindful of. Never drink or eat hot liquids and food when babywearing. When there is an accidental spill of hot beverages or food on your baby’s sensitive head, imagine what degree of harm it might cause to your little one. Be careful of what you are drinking and eating while babywearing.
Can I Breastfeed in a Sling?
Yes, you can breastfeed your child when he is in a sling. However, it requires practice and skill to doing so. There may be certain risks associated with it, and the mother needs to be aware of these.
Some slings mention whether you can breastfeed in them or not. Always refer to the user manual for the instructions.
Below are some essential tips to follow when breastfeeding in a sling. Make sure you follow them religiously.
- It is advisable to check on your baby and ensure if he or she is able to breathe easily,
- When breastfeeding your child, see to it that there are no trip hazards.
- Make sure that you offer continuous support to your baby at all times.
- You can breastfeed your little one vertically, or you can do it in a laidback position, as well. 5. Use your hand when doing so as it gives you the freedom to move. It further allows freeing up one hand so that you can sort the latching issues if any.
- After you finish breastfeeding, change the position of your baby. The child’s head should face upwards and must be clear of the sling and also your body.
How to Use a Baby Carrier Safely?
When you buy a new carrier for your baby, try it without carrying the baby in it. Try different positions and figure out what position is the most comfortable and secure enough for the baby. Learn to tie the strings and straps.
Also, try to put the carrier off by yourself. Instead of putting the baby in the carrier, put a stuffed doll, a bag of flour, or a gallon of milk to feel some weight. Try moving around the house.
When you finally carry your baby, give the baby the support of your hand until you are completely capable and comfortable with the carrier. This way you can avert any risks, which might hurt your baby.
Protect the Neck, Head, and Airways of the baby.
The safety of the baby while carrying is the most important and should always be considered. Ensure that the baby’s neck is in the right position, the baby’s head is supported properly, and the airways are not getting blocked.
Babies between the age of 0-4 months are advised to be carried in a padded carrier that provides support to the neck and head of the baby. One simple rule that all the parents should go by is TICKS. It means to keep the baby in view at all times.
I hope this article gave you complete insights into how to use a baby carrier safely and in the right way. Whether you are a parent or a caregiver, make sure you follow the necessary points cited in this article. This will not only guarantee safe babywearing but also ensures comfort to you and your baby.
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