It's national baby wearing week and what better time to post part two in my baby carrying series. I spoke to Zoe at the Sling Consultancy and we discussed the concerns that often come up with using carriers and slings.
Personally it's been a life saver for me and I love having my baby so close on my chest. We've now even started using the Izmi toddler carrier too and it means we can still go on lots of walks, with Everley toddling along and then jumping up when she gets tired. We have one of the big backpacks too but the lightweight carrier is easier to pop in a bag for holidays or as a just in case she needs it.
So here are some of common concerns that come up when talking about baby wearing and what zoe has to say about it:
- Will it make my child clingy?
The word “clingy” is defined as, to cling on to and as being too emotionally dependent. Baby prefers to be in our arms, on our chest, held snug to us, often waking as soon as we try to put them down. It is NORMAL for baby to want connection to us. Responding to their needs for touch, comfort, warmth, food etc, ensures that they feel safe and secure. There is no such thing as a baby being too emotionally dependent, they are entirely dependent on us for everything
- Will it be comfortable for me?
Carrying should be comfortable. It might be that you need a few adjustments or it may be time to try a different type or one that offers different support, but there is always a sling/carrier out there for you! We often hear people say “oh my baby got too heavy to carry” or “my sling hurt my back” and that likely means the sling/carrier wasn’t fitting well for a variety of reasons. Changing the type or style can impact comfort. Wider based carriers spread the weight differently to narrower carriers. Ultimately, the best carrier/sling is one that fits you and your child well and this is not going to be the same for everyone as we are all different body shapes and strengths. Narrow-based carriers can be uncomfortable for the wearer as baby starts to grow and gain weight. Optimal positioning means optimal comfort, supporting a child knee to knee as we would hold them in arms. Even if you have had back issues or shoulder issues carrying is entirely possible as the carrier/sling is doing some of the work and using a carrier or sling may be easier and safer than carrying in arms.
- I heard is can be dangerous?
Most things we do have some element of risk; crossing the road, walking down steps etc. There are some useful guidelines to ensure we carry as safely as possible. The biggest risk is suffocation, so check;
Can baby breathe? You should always be able to see baby’s mouth and nose i.e. fabric or clothing is not obstructing their face
Can you lean forward and baby stays snug to your body? You may need to offer some head support but their body shouldn’t come away from you, if it does the sling/carrier needs tightening. If it is too loose it may lead to baby slumping which can impact their breathing
Can you be hands-free? Meaning you don’t need to offer additional support using your hands, the carrier should be supporting your child, if you feel the need to use hands the sling/carrier likely needs adjusting in some way.
- Isn't it bad for their hips?
Hip dysplasia is also something that gets mentioned as some carriers are marketed as hip healthy. This is a hip condition which means the joint is under-developed and can pop out. Narrow based carriers do not cause hip issues in the most part, although it will exacerbate it if there is an issue. It is possible to use slings/carriers if your child is being treated for hip issues as the harnesses or boots and bars etc hold the hips in a fixed position usually quite wide, similar to the position if using a wide based carrier or knee to knee positioning in a woven. Good tips can be found here:
It is important with buckle carriers that the straps are adjusted and tightened well. Following the safety steps, regardless of what you are using, will ensure you carry safely.
-My baby likes to see the world though can I use it with them facing both ways?
There is a big misconception that baby needs to face outwards to see the world. This is a position we have been used to seeing with narrow based carriers. However, many of the wider position carriers do not tend to be able to offer this option other than a few specific ones. It is a position that should be used carefully in line with the manufacturer’s instructions usually once baby has appropriate head control (many suggest 6 months and not past 12m) and also for limited time periods and should always swap the child round to be parent facing if they fall asleep. Often a good option to try is a hip carry (from around 4m) this allows the child to see more of the world and engage if they choose to, but also to remain being able to see our face as they use many cues from us to judge situations and also for communication. It also allows them to rest their heads on us if they get tired. From around 6m back carrying with a buckle carrier is another option you can try.
- Isn't my baby is too big to be in a carrier?
We often think carrying is only for newborns and then they get too big and heavy to carry in a sling. This is a misconception due to using typically narrow-based carriers which are often not comfortable once baby gains weight. Carrying older babies and children can be hugely helpful and beneficial for a number of reasons. It can be helpful way to reconnect with your child after time apart. It can be a helpful tool using a sling/carrier to help settle a child in unfamiliar situations or places. It is useful when travelling as you have hands free for suitcases, easier on and off planes and around airports etc. It is great for language and social development as we tend to engage more with our child if they are close to us and interactions are the building blocks for language. It helps them learn about social situations and how to communicate as greater interaction from those around them as at eye level.
See https://www.theslingconsultancy.co.uk/carrying-your-child Article on Toddler carrying featured in Juno Magazine
If you are unsure if it is safe or if carrying your child is no longer comfortable, find a local carrying consultant or sling library see http://www.slingpages.co.uk/
Hope that's been helpful. If there are any other topics you like me to cover then do drop me a line - Here