There’s no denying the benefits of babywearing. From increased stimulation to a closer parent-baby bond, the benefits of using a baby carrier are endless. Let’s look at some helpful tips to make the most out of your carrier and the time you and baby have together on your adventures.
Make Sure You Have the Right Carrier
First and foremost, you need to make sure you have the right carrier for your baby’s age, size, and developmental stages. There are many different types of carriers, and each provides benefits for certain situations. Some of the most common types of baby carriers are:
- Wraps - These baby carriers are made of a large piece of fabric that can be tied in different setups. Its flexibility makes it easy for parents to adjust.
- Frame Backpacks - Frame backpacks are the largest of the baby carriers and should only be used for larger babies and toddlers. They are great for adventures because they often have storage and fully support the baby in back.
- Mei Tai - Mei tai carriers are similar to wraps, but they have straps coming from each corner to support the baby. They are also a little easier to wear and put on than traditional wraps.
- Front/Soft Structured - These carriers are designed for smaller babies who still need head support, as well as babies that can hold their heads up and want to look out and be front-facing. These carriers are designed with buckles for easy-wearing - which is the biggest differentiator between front/soft structured carriers and wraps.
Carry in the Right Position
In addition to choosing the right baby carrier, you should also find the right position to carry your baby in. The most common positions are:
- Facing in - Facing in is great for smaller babies and newborns that need firm neck and head support. We recommend that baby be in the m-position (knees slightly higher than bottom) to protect their hips.
- Facing out - This position is for babies past the newborn stage that can hold their heads up by themselves. They can then look out and experience the world, while still being close to Mommy’s tummy.
- Hip carry - This position is great for small and large babies, as it is natural for both baby and carrier. The baby faces in and straddles the carrier’s hips, making it a versatile and useful position.
- Back carry - The back carry is meant for babies that can sit up on their own and gives them a little more freedom to look around. Also, this position is great for action adventures, like hiking, because you have your front and both arms free.
To learn more about various babywearing positions, check out our infographic, Babywearing Positions: Age Isn’t Enough.
Bend at the Legs, Not the Back
When babywearing, parents should be extra cautious of the extra weight of the baby. Especially for front-carriers, you don’t want to risk losing your balance or having baby slip out the side. To avoid this, always bend with your legs, rather than leaning your back forward, to keep baby upright. Make sure to watch where you’re stepping and be aware of any slippery pavement, steps, or other obstacles. Plus, using your legs will help protect your lower back, as well.
Learn How to Use Your Carrier
It may seem obvious, but if you are using a baby carrier for the first time or have just bought a new carrier, try it out without your baby in it first to get comfortable with the style. Adjust the straps, figure out which position is the most secure, and make sure everything is tightened and comfortable. You could even try putting a gallon of milk in the carrier before you try with your baby to get a sense of the weight! When starting out, some parents like to always keep a hand on their baby until they are fully comfortable with the carrier.
Protect Baby’s Head, Neck, and Airways
The most important consideration when babywearing is your baby’s safety. Always make sure that their airway isn’t being blocked by the carrier, that their head is supported, and that their neck is in the right position. Babies between 0-4 months should be in a facing-in carrier that has padded head and neck support.
A general rule of thumb when babywearing is TICKS: keep your baby tight, in view at all times, close, keep chin up, and supported back. Once you and your baby find the perfect carrier, you will both enjoy the benefits of babywearing!