Welcoming a baby into this world is regarded as a new and precious life and one that warrants a celebration. There will be presents, food, heartfelt letters, and of course, endless baby clothes and accessories. People around you will scramble to find the cutest outfits, eager to ensure your little bundle of joy is always dressed to the nines.
Apart from clothing, you will also need to invest in seemingly endless accessories. There will be bottles to purchase, nappies to get, and of course, strollers and baby carriers. Many opt to go for baby carriers, however, especially since they’re highly convenient. Choosing one entails ample research and preparation, though, as you need to pay close attention to your baby’s needs.
Keep in mind that babies have sensitive skin. They’re also unable to regulate their body temperatures and will rely solely on the fabrics and items you choose for them. When it comes to babywearing, for instance, you’ll want to choose only the best possible product.
But first things first—let’s talk a little bit about the baby carrying practice. It’s essentially the practice of carrying a baby, which can be done in various ways. You can do so in a sling or carrier, but the idea remains the same—it allows you to carry your baby, keeping them safe and sound.
To learn more about it, we’ve gathered this comprehensive guide for you. Let’s dig a little deeper and learn more about babywearing:
Why should you wear your baby?
Reason #1: It’s highly convenient
Although carrying your baby by your arms is a welcome act, having your precious one in a sling allows you to move freely. You’ll also never have to worry about steps, crowds, and even narrow pathways when carrying a stroller, nor think about carrying baby buckets around. Not only are these products heavy, but they can also make your baby uncomfortable.
It’s always best to keep the little one close to you in a sling, ensuring that all stimuli are blocked from their senses. In doing so, you make them feel safe and secure, all the while ensuring that you have room for your groceries, luggage, and other necessities!
Reason #2: You allow your baby to develop well
There’s a reason doctors urge mothers to stay in close contact with their newborns—it allows babies to develop well and grow stronger. When you choose to keep your baby close to you in a sling, he eventually becomes in tune with your breathing, heartbeat, and movements.
Such stimulation allows him to formulate physical responses, even if they’re only held tight in the sling. You allow your baby the chance to learn up close—something which a stroller and other mechanical carriers cannot provide.
Reason #3: Babies are happier
When a baby is close to you or someone they trust, he will be less likely to cry and make a fuss. Crying is a common problem among parents, and allowing your baby to cry for extended periods leads to heightened stress—both for the baby and you. You’ll want their energy to be used elsewhere, such as observing and learning about their environment. With babywearing, this is highly possible.
When can I start wearing my baby?
When purchasing a baby carrier, you need to consider the age of your child, as well as their developmental milestones. Different types of baby carriers cater to the needs of different stages of development.
Some are specifically designed for babies 0 to 4 months old, while others are designed for older babies. With that in mind, here are some of the needs that come with each age or developmental milestone.
1- At 0-4 Months Old
A newborn child or small baby is incredibly delicate, and they need neck support because they cannot hold their head up on their own. Another important consideration is the baby’s hip support to ensure their comfort and safety.
It’s recommended that you carry your newborn baby in an “M position” or “spread squat” position. This means that your child’s knees must sit slightly above their bottom, with their legs creating a slight “M” shape. Carrying your child in this position will ensure proper hip support and the proper curvature of your child’s back.
When your child is 0-4 months old, you could consider buying a baby carrier specifically designed for newborns or perhaps use a newborn insert in your carrier. These will ensure your child gets the physical support they need for their health and safety.
2 - At 4-7 Months Old
At around 4 to 7 months, your baby will likely be able to hold its head up on their own. Once they reach this developmental milestone, you can begin to adjust their carrier. For parents who have adjustable baby carriers, you can widen the base to accommodate their growing bodies. Make sure to leave enough room for them to be comfortable yet safely supported.
The facing-in position is much safer for younger babies, but you can switch your child to a facing-out position once they gain more control over their heads and necks. There are carriers that are convertible and can carry children in either facing-in or facing-out positions.
Once your child can fully support their heads and necks, adjusting them to a facing-out position can allow them to look around and see the world. This is vital for them to observe the environment and learn through their senses.
3 - At 8-12 Months Old
Older babies around 8-12 months old and up typically have more control over their heads and necks, and at this point, they can now sit in front-facing carriers or back carriers. These baby carriers allow them to observe the world and interact with their surroundings. These are particularly enjoyable when you’re taking them out on adventures and sightseeing.
What are the various types of baby carriers?
Type #1: Baby wraps
Wraps are quite exactly what they sound like — long pieces of fabric that you can wrap around yourself and your child. This type of carrier acts somehow like a swaddle and provides tight support to your child. Newborn children typically enjoy the swaddle-like feel of wraps, while older children might find them too tight or restrictive.
One notable advantage of using wraps is that they’re easily adjustable. They often come in a one-size-fits-all design, and it’s easy to adjust them according to your child’s size and support needs.
Type #2: Structured baby carriers
Structured baby carriers are commonly designed for older babies, but some can be adjustable to cater to younger ones that need more support. You can also buy some extra paddings to ensure the safety of your younger baby. Some adjustable carriers, however, can be used for newborns even without newborn inserts or additional paddings.
When buying a structured baby carrier, it’s important to consider that although they’re significantly easier to put on compared to wraps, they typically are not as snuggly. However, structured baby carriers with padded straps and waistbands offer significant support for older and heavier babies.
Some structured carriers have the option to sit your baby in a front-facing position, letting your little one observe and interact with their surroundings. Additionally, some carriers allow you to carry your child even in their early infancy years because of the higher weight limits.
Type 3: Baby ring slings
Baby ring slings are simply pieces of fabric sewn at the shoulder with rings, allowing you to wear them across your torso like a sling. This makes a pouch-like space for your baby to sit in comfortably. Their design allows for significant airflow, making them great for places that have hotter climates. They are also relatively easy to use.
The caveat for ring slings is that the weight distribution is uneven, meaning all the pressure will be placed on your shoulder. This can feel rather uncomfortable after carrying your baby for long periods. Some ring sling fabrics are also not suitable for machine-washing because they risk being warped.
What should I take into consideration before purchasing a sling?
As with everything, it’s vitally important to first study your options before investing in anything. Take the time to study the following tips:
1 - Make sure to conduct a thorough research
Before purchasing a wrap, make sure to pursue other options on your list. It would be best to visit a store that specializes in wraps, taking extra care to try out a few. You can also opt to look for recommendations among other mothers, just to find out what has worked best for them. It’s also important to remain open to the many different types of carriers—especially since what may have worked for others may not necessarily be true for you.
Keep a detailed list of all the baby wraps you’ve tried, and once you’ve narrowed your choices down, consider your baby’s needs. Take their age, weight, and height, taking extra measures to ensure that they remain safe and comfortable.
It’s also important to remember that wraps come in various sizes, but this doesn’t always pertain to your baby’s size—it’s always according to the type of carrying you're comfortable with, be it tightly wrapped around your chest, or dangling a little bit to your belly.
2 - Make sure you know know how to position your baby properly
Because of the versatility of wraps, you can use them in many different positions. For example, you can opt for a cradle carry, a hip carry, or a tummy to tummy carry. The hip carry position is more suitable for older babies that have more control over their heads and necks.
It’s important to note that in whatever position you choose to carry your baby, you need to ensure that you can always see their face to ensure that they can breathe properly. In whatever baby carrier you use, it is important to make sure that your baby’s face is not pressed against the wrap or your body. Additionally, their chin should not be tucked against their chest because this will likewise block their airways.
3 - Keep your own comfort levels in mind
Although your chosen baby carrier or wrap has been designed to keep your baby as comfortable as possible, keep in mind that you must always be dressing for the weather. Your own comfort levels must be taken into consideration—remember that your baby is attuned to your physical state.
During the winter, opt to wear bigger coats, making sure that it carefully drapes over the boat of you. It’s also important to only button it up or zip it halfway, taking extra care not to constrict your baby’s airflow. It’s also best to leave scarves for now, as any form of fabric can be dangerous for the baby.
When it comes to warm summer months, on the other hand, make sure to wear comfortable and breathable fabric. This should be light and airy, all needed to chase the heat away.
4 - Never opt for vintage carriers
Hand-me-downs are some of the best ways to save money, especially when it comes to clothing. Something only used once or twice can be used again, but when it comes to carriers, opting for new ones must always be your choice.
It may seem painful to shell out on costs for a new one, but keep in mind that your baby’s safety and comfort is at stake. It’s better to shell out more money now, than risk accidents later. When it comes to protecting your little bundle of joy, no price is too steep!
Investing in Your Baby’s Comfort and Development
The benefits of wearing your baby is undeniable—being close to you keeps them happier and allows them to develop well in more ways than one. More importantly, you’ll enjoy convenient travels and errands.
There are so many carrier options available out there, so the only thing left to do now is to find one that’s right for you. When it comes down to it, trust your parent gut feeling! So long as your baby is safe and close to you, you will have invested your money well.
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