By Kristy Comishin
Imagine that you are a newborn baby.
Since being born you have been exposed to lots of new stimuli and
experiences. Your needs and wants are the same and they can be simplified
into warmth, nutrition and safety. You are happiest when held and
fortunately your parents hold you almost constantly using various
baby carriers and slings. You rarely cry because you always know
exactly where your beloved guardians are so you feel safe, you are
warm being held against a human body and are close to your source
Your parents are happy because they are able to bring their content
baby with them to many “adult surroundings” and relieved
that they don’t have to manipulate a stroller or lug a bulky
car seat carrier around. They have found that your weight is comfortably
distributed in their backs rather than in their arms. Your mom is
easily, quickly and discretely able to breastfeed you on demand
in all sorts of places and situations.
You are unaware of the physical, mental and emotional benefits that
you get from having your needs met in a sling because you are too
little to understand, but when you grow up you will carry this sense
of well-being and security and pass it on to your children.
Because your needs are met, you are mostly content. You spend much
more time in "quiet alertness", a state best responsive
to learning. Stress hormones that are released during prolonged
crying will result in all energy going towards getting your needs
met instead of brain development.
The movement of your guardians when carrying you helps to stimulate
your vestibular system. This system is located behind your middle
ear and is responsible for controlling your sense of balance. This
stimulation helps babies to breathe and grow better, regulates their
physiology and improves motor development. A common myth is that
carrying a baby too much will impede its ability to crawl or walk.
Instead, if parents are sensitive to their child’s signals,
their children will let them know what they prefer.
Being carried up at voice and eye level ensures that you are more
likely to be involved in adult conversations and will enhance speech
understanding and development.
Now imagine that your parents own a few different types of carriers.
There is the Ring Sling that is adjustable and easy for your parents
to put you in and take you out. The Ring Sling is a basic and versatile
type of carrier as it can be used in 6 different positions with
ages ranging from newborn to toddler hood (approximately 35 lbs).
The ring sling is very portable – it fits well underneath
a jacket or in a diaper bag when not in use. The downside is that
as babies get heavier, there is more pressure on the one shoulder,
which can limit the amount of carrying time. There are three main
styles of ring slings; padded, lightly padded and unpadded and the
kind chosen by parents is a matter of preference.
As with all carriers, it helps parents to watch a demonstration
and takes practice to feel completely comfortable with it. While
starting out, parents should always keep one hand on the baby for
There is the cozy fleece or cotton Pouch that is styled similarly
to the Ring Sling in that it drapes over one shoulder. This does
not have rings so it is not as adjustable but is very easy to use
and shares the same disadvantages as the ring sling.
A Wrap sling is usually made from woven or crinkle/gauze cotton
or jersey knit fabrics. The wrap has a high learning curve for most
with lots of positions but is well worth the effort to figure it
out. There are great instructions on how to easily make and wear
this very traditional carrier at www.mamatoto.org.
Fast forward until you are a few months old, you are stronger and
have independent neck control. You are interested in people and
your surroundings but are most comfortable as an observer. Your
parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles and family friends carry you
around or you may prefer only your parents, depending on your personality.
You still enjoy the same carriers that you did as a newborn but
have added a few more to your collection.
There are quite a few different Soft carriers out there where baby
can fit on the front or back with straps over both shoulders and
around the waist. The different styles and colours reflect the preferences
of the buyers. Two styles of soft carriers are the Asian Baby Carriers
(ABC) or Mei Tai and Podegi carriers.
The Mei Tai is basically a square piece of fabric with straps coming
off the top and bottom corners. These straps cover both shoulders
and are often padded so is more comfortable when carrying heavier
babies. The Podegi is a carrier that originates in Korea. It has
a large piece of fabric (like a blanket) with a long strap along
the top edge, which extends beyond the fabric on both sides to wrap
around the baby and parent. The downsides of soft carriers are that
they are less compact to fit in a diaper bag and it takes longer
and more effort to move the baby in and out.
It is key for parents to know that the baby’s positioning
is important in all carriers. Ideally newborns should be positioned
lying on their backs in a cradle position, like a hammock, or tummy-to-tummy
with the head and the spine supported along its length. Carriers
that hold babies in an upright position supported with a small piece
of cloth at the crotch and with legs dangling are not recommended
as they can cause a type of spine damage called Spondylolisthesis
as evidenced by research compiled by American chiropractor Rochelle
Now you are older. You can sit by yourself and still enjoy all the
carriers your parents own but have added a new one. You enjoy sitting
in a Backpack carrier when hiking with your family. When buying
a backpack-style carrier, parents must make sure that the child’s
entire bottom is supported, not just between the legs and foot rests
Parents can get out and about because their babies will eat and
sleep in most baby carriers. The future of our communities relies
on our children being treated with respect and having their emotional
and physical needs met so that they can grow up with a strong self-esteem
and the sensitivity to treat others as they have been treated. Babywearing
helps to do this.
For more information;
www.nurturedcub.ca - Local
babywearing advocate and sales. Contact Kristy for a free home demonstration
of any kind of carrier, or for telephone or email advice. firstname.lastname@example.org
1-250-489-1040. Watch for upcoming babywearing classes.
- Your internet source for baby carrier reviews and information
and to add your reviews. Also includes a very busy babywearing forum.
www.mamatoto.org - An American
non-profit organization that has lots of excellent information including
video clips to assist with learning about different carriers, especially