What is babywearing? Babywearing is the practice of wearing or carrying a baby in a ring sling, wrap or other type of carrier around the newborn ages. On today’s podcast, we discuss the many benefits of babywearing, how to correctly position your baby when doing so, and the different types of carriers available and their respective characteristics. Joining us are Megan Tennant & Sam Bright, Physiotherapists & Clinic Owners of Kids Physio Group.
Studies have shown that there is a direct correlation in secure attachment between baby and parent with just one hour of babywearing per day. Being close to the carrier’s heart can affect baby’s own heart rate and breathing depending on who they are close to, therefore leading to increased bonding, attachment, and regulation!
Removing Pressure off of Baby’s Head
Newborns spend most of their time on their backs. Babywearing helps to reduce the pressure from the back of their heads. We did a great podcast regarding plagiocephaly - the term used for when a baby develops a flat spot on one side of the head or the whole back of the head - that you can check out here!
Another great benefit of babywearing is that it can serve as some tummy time, particularly for young babies zero to two months old. In order for baby to look at their caregiver’s head, they have to lift their neck and use those muscles - which is easier done in a carrier. The transition of being on the floor can be jarring for newborns that have come from a cozy and comfortable womb - being in a carrier is a bit more reminiscent of that space and therefore a great place for them to start working on head control. But this is not to say that it can or should fully replace tummy time on the floor, especially as your baby gets a bit older.
Give Mom a Break!
In addition to still recovering from the physical effects of giving birth, breastfeeding, or general exhaustion, the primary or breastfeeding caretaker can often feel “touched-out” by constant physical contact. Babywearing by another partner gives them an often welcome break, as well as allowing for important bonding time with another caretaker!
Healthy Hip Development
If the hips are well positioned in a wrap or carrier, babywearing can help facilitate healthy hip development. A helpful acronym to keep in mind when positioning with babywearing is T.I.C.K.S.
I: In View at All Times
C: Close enough to Kiss
K: Keep Chin off the Chest
S: Supported Back
We get into more details regarding each of these in the podcast, so tune in! Also check-out this awesome PDF that explains each step in more details - with visuals!
Why Is it Important for Baby’s Hips to be open?
For any aged baby - particularly up to six months - we don't want baby's legs hanging straight down. This is because when babies are born, they don’t have a very deep hip socket yet. This is developed over time with flection, kicking, and eventually weight bearing. If babies in early ages don’t spend much time flexed out and in a wide open position, they risk not developing as deep a hip pocket. This can lead to hip dysplasia or the hip not being in a nice position under the socket.
There are three main types of baby carriers:
We discuss the pros and cons of each type of wrap in the podcast, as well as our own personal preferences as medical professionals and mamas! But there are a few main tips to keep in mind when choosing a carrier for your baby.
As parents, we often get into the habit of doing the same repetitive action the same way, whether it be putting on a diaper or feeding our baby. If baby’s head is always looking the same way, one muscle can get a bit tighter on one side, another more stretched out. It might also lead to a bit of a flat spot on the resting side of the head. Regardless of the type of carrier you choose, make sure you’re rotating your baby’s head from time to time - within reason, of course!
2. Front or Back Facing
You may be wondering if your baby may prefer facing outward or forward, to be able to take in the exciting world around them! There are benefits to baby facing forward, but we do not recommend it for newborns under the six month age range. While they may have good head control by that time - or even younger - it is more difficult to maintain that open M-shape that is essential for newborn hip development in a forward-facing carrier.
A great list of hip healthy carriers can be found on the Hipdysplasia.org website at:
3. Different Carriers for Different Partners
You may find you need a different carrier for you and your partner. This is worth the investment, keeping in mind not only baby’s health, but your own! A tight fit will improve your back safety and reduce strain and pain!
4. Always Remember Safety
Be extra vigilant when babywearing. While we never intend harm, being sleep deprived and adjusting to a new distribution of weight and balance can be tricky and lead to more accidents. Be attentive when consuming hot beverages that can burn baby’s skin, sharp objects that they can grab, or walking up and down stairs. The railing is your friend!
5. Seek Out a Community
There are many professional, community or volunteer groups that can offer support on how to properly babywear and offer additional tips and tricks for how to find and adjust the carrier in a way that most suits you and your baby - including many retailers that have trained and knowledgeable staff.
6. Try on Before you Buy
This may sound simple, but overall our biggest tip would be to try on a carrier before you buy one! Make sure to consider how it sits your baby using the T.I.C.K.S. acronym as a guide, as well as if it is comfortable for you.
For more great resources, tips and videos on babywearing, check out the Kids Island Physio website or their Instagram as well as the others listed above: