Many parents wear their babies, and there’s a good reason why: it’s good for infants. Newborns in particular need to be close to their parents. New babies can only see 6-8 inches from their faces and can become easily distressed if left alone for long periods. They need a parent’s smell and warmth to feel secure. Babies that are worn consistently spend more time in a state of quiet alertness which helps them learn about their world.
Baby wearing is convenient, especially when parents are on-the-go. Strollers have varying success on sandy beaches or in grassy parks, but wearing a baby eliminates that struggle during outings. For parents with multiple children, wearing a baby leaves both hands free to care for the older one(s). Free hands also help parents to complete daily tasks more easily such as working on the computer or doing housework.
Wearing a child keeps him out of harm’s way while enabling a parent to complete her tasks. Other options to transport infants while running errands may not be ideal. For example, resting a car seat in the upper section of a shopping cart is not always safe, and placing a car seat in the main storage compartment takes up the bulk of the storage space. In addition, infants exposed in carts tend to attract well-meaning strangers who may get closer to a baby than their parent feels is appropriate.
For breastfeeding mothers, baby wearing provides extra benefits: keeping baby close can also boost mom’s breast milk supply. It’s a great way to nurse the baby or toddler discretely while out in public.
Despite some negative press, baby wearing is very safe when done correctly. Parents should always follow the weight and age guidelines suggested by the manufacturer of their specific carrier. If wearing a newborn, make sure the baby’s nose is always visible. Newborns should not be curled chin to chest; this restricts their airways and can be very dangerous. Fabric from a carrier should never be draped across a baby’s face. Make sure that the head, neck, and back are properly supported. A baby should never appear to be dangling from a carrier; the product should create a “seat” for baby. The baby should appear to be squatting with the angle between the legs at about 90 degrees and the knees hyperextended at about a 120 degree angle.
Several options exist for parents who wish to wear their babies:
Soft Structured Carriers – These carriers are available in backpack or front-loading styles. Some of them even have aluminum frames for extra support for sports like hiking. Some are suited for small babies while others can accommodate toddlers. Examples include Baby Hawk, Becco, Baby Bjorn, Ergo, and Phil & Ted’s.
Mei Tai’s: These are excellent baby-wearing options. The design is based on a style used in Asia. The core of the design is a rectangle piece of fabric with ties that extend from the corners.
Wraps: Wraps are basically one long piece of material that are a one-size-fits-all swath of fabric. When wrapped properly, it provides a safe cocoon for babies. The most well-known wrap carrier is the Moby, but other brands include Wrapsody and Boba Wrap.
Pouch Carriers and Slings: Pouches typically wrap around the parent’s body diagonally, crossing one shoulder and extending to the opposite side hip. This creates a pocket, or pouch, where a baby can lay securely or sit supported on the parent’s hip. Balboa and Peanut Shell make popular pouch carriers. Slings are slightly different, and within the sling family, there are several varieties. A ring sling is a piece of material secured with a ring at the shoulder, making it easily adjustable for parents of all sizes. Brands include: Sakura Bloom, Maya Wrap, and Storchenwiege. Other slings are made from stretchy material, looping around both shoulders and/or the lower back for support. Baby K’tan makes these kinds of slings.
Pricing for these baby wearing options varies depending on the type of carrier, but a typical range is $50 – $150. Babies can be picky, so if possible, borrow from friends or relatives and “test drive” different carriers. Chain baby stores will offer varieties of carriers, and they’re also available online.
Stores in Long Island selling baby wearing gear:
J. Della Co. – 15 East Main Street Babylon, NY 11702, (631) 587-0050, www.jdella.com
Babies R Us – Various locations throughout Long Island, visit Store Locator.
Buy Buy Baby – Various locations throughout Long Island, visit Store Locator.
Target – Various locations throughout Long Island, visit Store Locator.
For more information on baby wearing safety, please visit:
The Baby Wearer
By Rachel Minkowsky