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Babywearing 101

What is baby-wearing?

“Baby-wearing” is the practice of carrying babies and children. While a relatively new “trend” in North America, mothers have been carrying their babies and young children since the beginning of time.

What are the advantages to baby-wearing?
Convenience: Mom can get tasks done with baby happily tucked in. Slings can double as change pads, nursing covers and sun-shades. A babywearing mother can manage stairs, escalators and other urban obstacles easily and without any heavy lifting!

Bonding: Being close to your baby means you can pick up o n her cues more readily and respond to them more quickly. This builds the trust and understanding that is the basis for healthy attachment.

Breastfeeding: Responding to baby’s cues is of utmost importance in establishing breastfeeding and a worn baby can express his needs more readily. Many mothers also find that they can nurse in public more comfortably with baby in a carrier.

Cost: While there are slings and carriers in every price range, most carriers cost considerably less than the average stroller.

Security: For both babies and toddlers, the sling is a safe retreat when the world gets too hectic or the situation becomes un-safe for little walkers.

Development: Babies move in the rhythm of their mother, helping them to gain balance as well as an understanding of the world around them.

Is it safe?
Yes, but it is not fool-proof. Most healthy babies can be worn from birth with very few caveats, but a few safety rules should be observed. Never let a young baby lie in any carrier so that their chin is against their chest Always try out a new carrier or position in a safe place (like a bed) or with a “spotter” With slings, always ensure that there is fabric between your body and the child’s For safety and comfort, ensure that your baby is close to your body and that her knees are higher than her bum.

Won’t baby be spoiled by carrying them all the time?
Babies and young children have a natural desire to be close to their mothers—this makes a great deal of sense if you consider the advantages above. Contrary to what some believe, babies do not really need to be “taught” to be without their caregiver: they will venture into the world and gain independence at the pace that is right for them. Wearing them or not is not likely to change that pace—it will simply make life easier for you both.

Doesn’t it hurt your back?
Not if it fits correctly—the weight should be evenly distributed across the straps/sling without any pinch points. One-shouldered slings can become uncomfortable over long periods with heavier babies—try switching shoulders or going to a two-shouldered style. If you have particular concerns about pain and/or weakness, be sure to get advice from an experienced retailer or other mother to save yourself discomfort and unnecessary expense.

How do I decide which style to get?
Consider how old your baby is, how heavy they are and what you intend to use the carrier for. Make sure you can bring back the carrier if it doesn’t work for you (unwashed, of course!). You can also try out carriers at local babywearing groups or host a babywearing party of your own!

Babywearing 101

Ring Sling
The ring sling is the style of sling that most of use are familiar with a long band of fabric with two rings at end, through which the fabric is pulled to make a tail. Ring slings are adjustable to fit most adults, come in padded and unpadded shoulders and generally have a pretty short learning curve. The disadvantages are that they can be fiddly to adjust and some mothers find that the heavily padded styles are uncomfortable and overly warm. Ensure that you purchase a sling with high-quality forged aluminum or acrylic rings and solid stitching.

Pouch Sling
The pouch sling is the simplest design—basically a swath of fabric sown into a circle and folded in half. The key to a pouch is to get the correct sizing—some manufacturers also make adjustable pouches. Because they are not adjustable, pouches generally can’t be shared. However, for a sleek, fiddle-free carrier, they are ideal.

Wrap
A wrap is a long piece of fabric that is tied around the wearer’s body to create a safe pouch in which baby is slipped. While the learning curve can be somewhat steeper than other carriers, the wrap has the distinct advantages of being very secure and being usable for both front and back-carries. Wraps come in various types, the main categories being stretchy (generally a cotton jersey) or woven (generally a cotton weave). Stretchy wraps tend to be easier to get on, but they tend to be less supportive for heavier babies. Woven
wraps can be used for heavier babies, but also tend to be more costly.

Mei Tai
A mei tai is a rectangle of fabric with four straps sewn to it: two tie around the waist and the other two loop around the shoulders to tie around the wearers body. A mei tai allows for front and back carries, a very secure hold for more strenuous activities and greater comfort for long wearing because the weight is carried on both shoulders. The disadvantages are that a mei tai can take longer to get baby in and out of and outward facing carries are not generally recommended. In addition, they tend to be among the more expensive carriers due to the construction.

Soft-Structured Carriers (SSC)
Most often referred to by their brand names (like Ergo and Beco), these carriers can be used in much the same way as a mei tai, but have the advantage of using clips and straps for an ergonomic fit. For comfort and long use, these carrier tend to get the #1 vote from seasoned babywearers. However, some mothers dislike the look or feel of the buckles (it can be unflattering) and these carriers tend to be the most expensive due to their construction.Also, these carriers sometimes require a special insert for infant use.

For more information about babywearing and its benefits, visit:
www.thebabywearer.com: the go-to place for all things babywearing (info, used carriers, help)
www.askdrsears.com: website for well-known pediatrician, babywearing supporter
www.mothering.com: pick up a reprint of their Babywearing Issue, a comprehensive resource

By Doudoubebe www.doudoubebe.com

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