Babywearing is one of the best things you can do as a parent. Carrying your baby (or toddler) close to your body has multiple benefits for both of you. There are many types of products available on the market. A variety of brands, a wide range of prices and options to choose from. The most common types of baby carriers are: stretchy wrap, soft-structured carrier, ring sling, mei-tai, woven wrap and pouch.
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Benefits of babywearing
- It reinforces the bonding between you and your baby. She will see you from a very close distance, will hear your voice and will be surrounded by your smell. She can even hear your heartbeat in a quiet environment.
- Your baby feels protected and secure as it reminds him or her of the environment in the maternal womb.
- Babywearing reduces external stimuli such as the amount of noise that he/she perceives. Thus, avoiding mental tiredness and overstimulation caused by new places, lights, colours, different people talking to him/her. The close proximity to your body is a safe place and the best way to relax.
- Babywearing promotes breastfeeding. If your choice as a mother is to do so, you might be happy to know that wearing your baby and being so close to him or her activates the hormones you need to breastfeed. Prolactin and oxytocin are secreted while babywearing. You could even do both at the same time with some practice!
- Babywearing reduces the chance to have postpartum depression. The hormones mentioned before, prolactin and oxytocin, may work as a protection for you to develop PPD.
- It helps with baby colic. The vertical position of the baby during babywearing aids the gases to mobilise and not get stuck in their stomach where it could be the cause of pain.
- Babies cry less and sleep better while babywearing. They are more relaxed so they have longer naps, less tearful evenings and will be happier and calmer in general. This is especially important during the fourth trimester (babies 0-3 months old).
- You will be hands-free! That’s not complete freedom but it’s certainly an improvement over carrying the baby in your arms. It is also handy to go to places with stairs as you won’t be limited by carrying a pram or buggy with you.
What is a stretchy wrap
A stretchy wrap is a long piece of fabric usually made of soft stretchy cotton material. It’s tied around your body before putting the baby inside. It measures around 4-5 metres long and less than 1 metre wide.
Stretchy wraps are a fabulous replica of the environment inside the womb: tightly tied around your body making it feel as if the baby and you were only one. It needs a bit of practice as there is a sequence on how to properly wrap it around you. I used to practise with a teddy while I was pregnant!
The stretchy wrap was by far the best option for my family until the baby was around 6-9 months. We wore it many times a day. During the fourth trimester (0-3 months) and certain tricky phases we used the stretchy wrap for 7 or even more hours a day. Most of the baby’s naps were in the stretchy wrap until she was 6 months old. When she became heavier, we found our backs started to hurt after so many hours. We then looked into the following type of carrier.
The stretchy wrap we used and I strongly recommend is the Funki Flamingo Baby Wrap on Amazon (image links to Amazon). We bought an extra one as a replacement for when our main one was dirty. It got that much use!
|Soft to baby’s body and skin||Need to practice a few times|
|Feels like baby and you are one body||Hurts back and shoulders after baby reaches certain weight|
|Easy to carry|
What is a soft structured carrier
A soft structured carrier (SSC) usually features a waist band, body structure and straps that fasten around your body. With most brands the waist band is tied first, the baby is placed on the body structure and finally the straps are fastened around your arms or shoulders.
A SSC is quicker to put on than the stretchy wrap. This might be the reason for men to like it better than other types of carriers. It becomes handy in airports, trains, in the middle of the street or other constrained places.
Soft structured carriers tend to be quite expensive. This made us a bit reluctant to buy one, but once our baby reached 6-7 months and was too heavy for the stretchy wrap, we went for it. It was the best decision we could have made. Now, at 2 years old we still use it if needed. The SSC features an outstanding support for your back and shoulders even with bigger weights.
|Quick to put on||Price|
|Comfortable with bigger weights||Less close and tight to the body|
|Easier to learn how to use|
The soft structured carrier we used continuously since our baby was 6 months and we still do every now and then is the Ergobaby 360 (link to Amazon). We absolutely loved it from the beginning and would definitely recommend it. It comes with inserts for small babies and it features an integrated sunhood. It was definitely worth the price
Please read the instructions of the product you choose, practice a few times and ensure both, the baby and you are safe and comfortable.
A different type of carrier from those mentioned above might be the best option for you and your baby. Sling libraries are the best places to have a look and try various models. Google them or ask in Facebook groups of local mums to find the nearest one.
You can read about 18 ideas to play with your baby from 0 to 6 months here or why is breast milk so good for babies. See all posts here.
Please comment below with your experiences babywearing, brands you recommend or don’t recommend at all. Hopefully we can help other parents decide the best choice for them!