Babywearing can be a gamechanger! Having your baby in a sling or carrier on your body, means your hands and arms are free to do things you want or need to do – the odd job around the house, walk your dog or do a bit of shopping.
So, what is babywearing you might be thinking? Quite simply, it is just wearing your baby on your body through a sling or carrier (there are lots of options to choose from!) and there are so many benefits! Baby wearing can support your baby’s brain development and social skills through eye contact and talking, aiding the bond between you and your baby. Babywearing is also known to reduce crying – babies who are carried cry 43% less – that is absolutely amazing! As well as benefits for your baby, babywearing initiatives the release of Oxytocin (the love hormone) which promotes emotional and mental well-being – leaving one Happy Mama! Also, if you are breastfeeding your baby, babywearing can allow nursing on the go – win win!
If you do fancy trying babywearing (and we really do recommend it!) you’ll want to firstly choose one that feels comfortable for you and your baby. There are plenty of options, soft wrap, ring sling, carriers, woven wraps and meh tai’s. What you ultimately choose will depend on a variety of factors including the age or size of your child, your body type, you budget and your personal preferences. It is key that you feel comfortable and happy with your choice, so you enjoy the experience of babywearing. You could find your local sling consultant who can help you choose the right sling for you and help you position it correctly.
Once you have your chosen babywearing style, you’ll want to practice getting baby in and out, making sure it is comfortable for you both. You’ll want to make sure baby is positioned correctly and safely. As a newborn or before 2 months, your baby will lack in head control and won’t be able to sit up so you’ll want the fabric to be at the nape of the baby’s neck, their arms inside the carrier and their backs fully supported. You’ll want them close enough to kiss – another lovely benefit!
As they get older, and bigger, when their head control is better, you’ll want the fabric to be at least to your baby’s shoulders, their legs out in an M position and their arms can be inside or outside the carrier. Baby should still be close enough to kiss!
With babywearing, it is important to familiarise yourself with what the babywearing community calls T.I.C.K.S. These address the safety concerns with babywearing revolving around keeping baby’s airway clear, along with supporting their back and neck.
T is for Tight. Baby should be upright and tight enough in their carrier that they’re held safely against whoever is wearing them.
I for ‘In view at all times’. Your baby’s face should be visible to you so you can monitor their breathing.
C is for ‘Close enough to kiss’. You’ll want to ensure you position your baby so you can kiss the top of their head.
K is for ‘Keep chin off chest’. Look at your baby to ensure there’s a gap of about two fingers wide under their chin. If they’re in a good upright position with their spine curved and legs squatting, it’s less likely that their chin will drop.
And finally, S is for Supported back. You will need to make sure baby is secure but resist over-tightening the carrier over their back. You will want your baby tight to you but loose enough to slide your hand into the carrier.
Lastly, for you and your baby’s comfort and safety whilst babywearing, you will want to consider what to wear. We know as a mama to a baby that choosing what you wear isn’t always at the top of your priority list but in this instance, it can be quite important. In cold weather, beware of putting on too many layers and overheating. You count as one layer of clothing for your baby and your sling at least another. If you are going inside to a café or shop, this can be like adding another layer – be mindful of this when dressing yourself and your baby. In warm weather, wear light layers, particularly natural fibres as these are the most breathable. In sunny weather, make sure you cover extremities with a wide brimmed sunhat for example.
Babywearing can be a wonderful way to bond and be close to your baby as well as a really useful and practical way to fit in to your everyday life, enabling you to have your hands and arms free to do whatever you wish – just don’t feel like you have to pick up the hoover mama (unless you really want to of course!).
For support with finding the perfect sling for you, why not get in touch with Cara Holloway – Sling Library & Consultant.