Babywearing might sound like a new or modern concept to many, but globally and historically, it is not a new practice. Even in India, you will see many women who have to go to work with a young baby, construction workers, railroad or road construction laborer's use a sturdy cotton dupatta, shawl or piece of cloth to wrap the baby on their back or the hip. This gives the baby the comfort of being near the mother, sleeping peacefully while the mother can still go about her day.
Modern babywearing is adopted from the same practice but made it more convenient and safer. This article will discuss the benefits of babywearing, how to babywear and how to make it safe for you and your baby.
Benefits Of Babywearing
One of the biggest reasons a parent babywear's a child is the convenience of carrying the kids while being hands-free. But the benefits of babywearing are way more than just the convenience factor. Let us look at some of those benefits:
- Encourages Breastfeeding – Babywearing your newborn over your check is more convenient for both the mother and the child for breastfeeding(1). In addition, it becomes more natural and convenient for the baby to reach out for the breast and feed properly.
- Better Weight Gain – When babies are born prematurely with low birth weight, doctors recommend kangaroo care. Kangaroo care is skin-to-skin contact with a baby by placing your baby near your breast or chest. Using a soft cotton wrap, babywearing newborn with skin-to-skin contact is more effortless and helps the baby gain weight faster.
- Babies Are Happier – Babies love to be carried – whether in the arms of their family members or babywearing wraps! Thus, wearing your baby close to you can make them less fussy and happier babies.
- Stabilises Heart Rate – Research shows that babywearing can help your baby be calm and have a more stabilised heart rate and body temperature.
- Better Sleep - Calmer babies sleep better. Having their parents or a family member carry them in their arms or a baby wrap helps babies sleep better through sick days or colic pain.
- Hands-free Time For You – The benefits are not just for the baby but also for you as parents. You can carry your baby without your hands going numb. On the contrary, you can use your hands to finish other tasks while the baby peacefully sleeps or plays wrapped around you in love.
Types Of Babywearing Gears
Depending on your comfort, your baby's age and weight, and the milestones your baby has achieved, different kinds of babywearing gears will suit you and your child. Here are the different types of babywearing gears that you can choose from:
- Wraps are a long piece of strong woven or stretchy cloth that you can use to wrap your baby around your body. This is more suitable for newborn babies. Once the baby grows and learns to sit unsupported, you can start wrapping them on your back or hip.
- Ring Sling – Ideal for younger babies, a ring sling is a way of carrying your baby while the weight is entirely on one shoulder. Ring slings are easier and quicker to wear than baby wraps, thus more popular. But after your child reaches 10 – 12 KGs, carrying them in a ring sling can be a challenge.
- Soft Structured Carriers – Adjustable babywearing carriers designed to carry from a newborn to up to 15 KGs of weight, a soft structured carrier is the easiest to carry. It has buckled to adjust the carrier according to your baby's height and weight. You need to adjust it once, and it takes 10 seconds to buckle the baby up and carry them.
- Meh Dai – Originated from Asia, a Meh Dai is a hybrid of a soft structured carrier and a wrap. The carrier's body is similar to a soft structured carrier and gives your baby a proper position to sit and rest their back on, while the strings on the side are not straps with buckles. The wide straps resemble the wrap and must be tied on your waist and around the shoulders just like a wrap.
How To Wear Babywear & Baby Carriers
How to wear a particular babywearing gear will depend on which one you choose to go ahead with. Each babywearing gear would come with instructions on how to use them, the safety instructions and Do's and Don'ts. The brand you decide to buy would also have babywearing instructors who can help you master the art of wearing your baby in a wrap or a sling.
Necessary Precautions While Babywearing
- - Buy your babywearing gears and wraps from a trusted brand that safety tests all their products.
- - Make sure your baby is in an upright position while being carried.
- - It can be dangerous if your baby's airway is not clear while wearing them. Ensure that their chin is resting on your chest and the face is not covered to check on them.
- - Regularly check your carrier for any rips or signs of wear and tear. It can be dangerous for the baby if your carrier rips off or the buckle breaks while wearing them.
- - Please practice on a soft surface to avoid any accidental injury when you are practicing.
Rules For Safety While Babywearing
Babywearing can be fun and convenient for parents as well as the baby. But to ensure that it does not become a concern, there are 5 simple rules you need to keep in mind. These are called the TICKS rules of babywearing.
- T is for TIGHT – A loose wrap can become a reason for the baby to slip off and fall out of it. Thus, having the wrap tight enough to secure them correctly is essential. Please remember that too tight a warp can obstruct their breathing. Therefore, you need to get the fit right.
- I is for IN VIEW ALL THE TIME - The height at which you wear a baby should be such that you should be able to view your baby's face at all times. If your baby's face is not visible to you, adjust it because that position might obstruct their airway and breathing.
- C is for CLOSE ENOUGH TO KISS – While wearing your baby in the front, on the chest, the baby’s head should be close enough to kiss the head of the baby. This will make breastfeeding in the carrier easy and help you prevent backaches.
- K is for KEEP CHIN OFF THE CHEST – Make sure they have a clear airway by making sure there is space between their neck and chin, and their chin is placed on your chest.
- S is for SUPPORTED BACK - Leaning back, sagging, or loose and unsupported back can lead to discomfort for your baby. Their tummy and chest should be touching you, and their back should be supported appropriately for a proper and safe position inside a wrap.
Top 3 Do's & Don'ts While Babywearing
- - Ask for help from an expert if you or your baby feels uncomfortable in babywearing gear, or you feel the fit is not correct.
- - Practice on a doll before you start babywearing your baby.
- - Support your baby’s head with your hand till they do not gain neck control.
- - If your baby is not happy or comfortable being carried, do not force them to be in the carrier for long. Instead, slowly build the time and their comfort.
- - Do not overdress your baby, as the carrier adds one layer over them.
- - Do not sleep while wearing your baby. This can be dangerous in case you roll over in your sleep.
Being a new parent can sometimes be overwhelming, but investing in all the right things can make life easier. Things like Cloth Diapers and Baby Carriers can make the journey easy for new parents. While keeping all the safety precautions mentioned in the article in mind, you can make babywearing the most memorable experience for you and your baby. And who doesn’t love the hands-free experience while still getting all the cuddles and kisses from your little one!