Wearing Your Baby
Do you have a new baby?
Is your baby only happy when he is being held?
Are you finding it hard to get anything done in the house?
Are you wondering when you will be able to get out for some fresh air and exercise, or maybe even go out for a meal?
If the answer is YES to any of these questions, the answer may be a soft baby carrier.
Wearing your baby in a soft carrier keeps him calm and happy while you get on with your life. Babies who are carried cry much less, and that is a good thing for everyone in the family. Even better, babies are able to learn more about their surroundings when they are in a quiet, alert, state. Life outside the womb takes some getting used to, and baby carriers can help.
Did you know that baby carriers are now a fashionable accessory?
In fact, there are many different kinds of baby slings and wraps, all of which come in a huge variety of colors and fabrics. You could have one to match every outfit you wear!
How can you tell which carrier is right for you?
Soft carriers are comfortable, washable, and most of them are adjustable. They are easy to put on and take off, and you can even breastfeed in them.
Carriers that have hard panels can feel uncomfortable because they do not give proper support. They do not let your baby snuggle up close to you, and are not suitable for younger babies at all.
For new babies up to about 15lbs, look for these kinds of carriers:
- unpadded stretchy ring slings
- stretchy wraps like the Moby wrap
For older babies who can sit up on their own, even toddlers, look for these kinds of carriers :
- padded woven ring slings
- woven wraps
As your baby gets heavier, you may prefer a more structured type of soft carrier like one of these:
- Asian -type carriers like the MeiTai
- hip carriers
- soft carriers that can be worn on your front or back
- soft carriers that are made to be worn only on your back
You can make your own baby carrier!
You can save a lot of money by making your own baby carrier – and there is no sewing involved.
For new babies, use a knit fabric. For a bigger baby (over 15 lbs) who needs more support, use a woven fabric. Gauzy cotton fabric is especially nice and airy for the hot weather. If you like to take your baby into the pool or shower, use a synthetic mesh fabric.
How to make a no-sew sling
You will need 2 to 2 1/2 yards of fabric, depending on your size.
If you buy 60 inch wide fabric, cut it in half lengthwise to make TWO slings!
Wash the fabric to get rid of nasty chemicals and make it softer.
1. Place the fabric over your head and around one arm. Tie the ends into a square (reef) knot – left over right, then right over left. Position the knot in front of your shoulder.
2. Put your baby in the sling and to see if the knot needs to be adjusted. It is easier and safer to do this with a helper.
How to make a no-sew baby wrap
Depending on how big you are, you will need 4 1/2 to 5 1/2 yards.
If you buy 60” wide fabric, cut it in half lengthwise to make TWO wraps!
Wash the fabric before using it to make it softer.
Mark the top center front of each one with a ribbon bow or even a pretty pin.
If you are using a knit fabric there is no need to hem the raw edges because it will not unravel.
Babywearing Wrap Tutorial, video:
Now, let's talk about safety.
There is one type of sling you should NEVER use – a “bag sling.”
Bag (or duffel) slings look like over the shoulder bags and have elasticized openings. The baby is scrunched up inside it, lying on a hard base, which lets him roll forward - and he could be smothered if he is pushed against your body! Even if he lies on his back, his head is pushed forward so that his chin rests on his chest, which makes it difficult for him to breathe. And, because the bag sling rests under your arm, it is difficult to see if the baby is breathing properly. Now THAT is a problem!
Here are a few ABSOLUTE RULES
- Make sure your baby can breathe. Baby carriers allow parents to be hands-free to do other things, but you must always remain active in caring for your child. No baby carrier can ensure that your baby always has an open airway; that’s your job.
- Never allow a baby to be carried, held, or placed in such a way that his chin is curled against his chest. This rule applies to babies being held in arms, in baby carriers, in infant car seats, or in any other kind of seat or situation. This position can restrict the baby’s ability to breathe. Newborns lack the muscle control to open their airways. They need good back support in carriers so that they don’t slump into the chin-to-chest position.
- Never allow a baby’s head and face to be covered with fabric. Covering a baby’s head and face can cause her to “rebreathe” the same air, which is a dangerous situation. Also, covering her head and face keeps you from being able to check on her. Always make sure your baby has plenty of airflow. Check on her frequently.
- Never jog, run, jump on a trampoline, or do any other activity that subjects your baby to similar shaking or bouncing motion. “This motion can do damage to the baby’s neck, spine and/or brain,” explains the American Chiropractic Association.
- Never use a baby carrier when riding in a car. Soft baby carriers provide none of the protection that car seats provide.
- Use only carriers that are appropriate for your baby’s age and weight. For example, frame backpacks can be useful for hiking with older babies and toddlers but aren’t appropriate for babies who can’t sit unassisted for extended periods. Front packs usually have a weight range of 8 to 20 pounds; smaller babies may slip out of the carrier, and larger babies will almost certainly cause back discomfort for the person using the carrier.
Want to learn more about babywearing?
Look for a local group like Capital Region Sling Babies. This is a nonprofit, all volunteer-run organization that helps parents choose and safely use baby carriers and slings.
ConsumerAffairs: Best Baby Carriers and Slings.
There are lots of patterns to make your own baby slings and wraps here:
How To Make Your Own Baby Carrier
© Copyright Breastfeeding USA 2012. All rights are reserved.