Nurtured Cub Baby Slings Header  
 
   
   
   
   
   

Babywearing 101
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 of food.

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 safety sake.

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 L. Casses.

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 are preferred.

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. kristy@nurturedcub.ca 1-250-489-1040. Watch for upcoming babywearing classes.

www.thebabywearer.com - 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 wrap-style carriers.


Line

by Maple Leaf Web Design Logo