You may well decide to give baby wearing a go – whether you are brand new parent seeking to keep a grizzly baby held and secure or a busy mum with a toddler on the loose, there are many advantages to consider! We’ll talk more about the benefits of choosing to carry your baby, but there are many different types and styles of baby sling and carrier on the market which can be disorientating.
First off, we highly recommend looking up your local sling library where you will be able to try out different styles and even hire one for a trial period. Baby wearing is a personal thing, and not every style will suit everyone’s needs and lifestyle. If you can: try before you buy! Sling libraries are often run by trained Babywearing Consultants who will be able to offer you professional advice. They are also lovely places to meet like minded parents.
When you are trying on slings or carriers there are a few golden rules to bear in mind to ensure your baby is being carried safely. The School of Babywearing has a simple check list to make sure you are carrying correctly – it’s called TICKS:
- (T)ight: Slings and carriers should be tight enough to hug your baby close. Any loose fabric will allow your baby to slump down in the carrier, which can hinder their breathing and pull on your back.
- (I)n view at all times: You should always be able to see your baby’s face just by glancing down. The fabric of a sling or carrier shouldn’t close around your baby so you have to open it to check on them. In a cradle position your baby should face upwards, and not turned in towards your body.
- (C)lose enough to kiss: Your baby’s head should be as close to your chin as is comfortable. By tipping your head forward, you should be able to kiss your baby on the head or forehead.
- (K)eep chin off the chest: A baby should never be curled so their chin is forced onto their chest as this can restrict their breathing. Make sure there is always a space of at least a finger width under your baby’s chin.
- (S)upported back: In an upright carrier, your sling should carry you baby comfortably close to you to support their back in its natural position. Their tummy and chest should be against you. Test this by putting your hand on your baby’s back and pressing gently, they should not uncurl or move closer to you.
If your baby is in a cradle carry or pouch, their bottom must be in the deepest part of the sling. This way, the sling doesn’t fold your baby and press their chin to their chest.
The main types of carrier / baby sling / baby wrap suitable for baby wearing are:
Classic Buckle Carrier This type of carrier is the one seen most often on the high street. Always make sure when buying a carrier like this that your child’s legs are supported correctly eg in a frog position.
Pouches and Ring SlingsThere are very simple fabric carriers that are worn over one shoulder. They are very easy to take on and off and can be used for all ages from a cradled new born, to a sitting up toddler!
Ring slings are adjusted by pulling the fabric through two rings. There are lots of independent individuals making these, so be sure to buy one that provides adequate support and never covers the babies face.
Mei tai style These are traditional Asian style carriers with a structured body panel. The baby can be worn front, back or on your hip and adjusted using the fabrics straps. Some people comment that these are a good halfway house between wrap style carriers and traditional buckle carriers.
Soft structured carrier These have a soft body panel but are fitted with easy to use and adjust straps with buckles. A great choice for someone who is looking for a quick and convenient baby wearing option and might be daunted by more complicated wrap styles. These all provide excellent support to the hips and knees of your baby. Popular brands include Ergobaby, Manduca, Connecta and Close Caboo
Wraps – stretchy and woven These are long pieces of fabric that can be tied in a multitude of different ways. Stretchy wraps can only be used for front carries, but woven wraps are incredibly versatile and can be used for front, back or hip carries. Both of these styles of carrier take a bit of practice.
Baby Backpacks These are fantastic for older children and for any family that enjoys walking and outdoor pursuits. They look like a traditional rucksack, with the baby sitting on your back facing forwards over your shoulder – giving them a great view of the world! They use a light metal frame and are worn with shoulder and waist straps.There is a huge price range with backpack carriers, and undoubtedly the ones at the upper end of the scale are better for carrying long distances. Baby backpacks are suitable from about 6/9 months up to three years. Bush Baby and Little Life are leading brands.
Winter baby wearing There are several different kinds of product out there that are suitable for use to keep your babies warm when baby wearing. We recommend layers including a hat or hood that can be removed to ensure babies do not overheat.
• Covers – some of these are made to specifically fit particular brands of carrier. Some of them are universal fitting, such as our own range of BundleBean Babywearing covers which is great if you end up owning more than one carrier. These also have the benefit of being easy to remove when going indoors and can be used by mum, dad or other carers.
• Baby wearing coats – these are worn by the carrier and have a zip in section that encloses the baby. A lot of these coats can also be used for pregnancy, but they are often expensive at £80+.
• Snow suits – a lot of parents buy a warm padded snow suit for the colder weather. These are not recommended for use with a sling or carrier – they can cause smaller babies to slump into an unsafe position and being hard take off could lead to a baby overheating.
Advantages of babywearing
Babywearing is lovely – what’s not to love about keeping your precious bundle close to you?! With a bit of help and advice buying the correct carrier most parents find they can carry their babies without any discomfort.
Some of the benefits are:
- It strengthens the bond between carer and baby, leading to calmer, happier babies
- Gives you your hands back, particularly helpful when you are looking after other children or need to get things done with an unsettled baby
- Gives babies an adult’s eye view of the world – a chance to see what’s going on, interact with you and other people – great for socialization!
- Great for discreet breastfeeding and close contact with your baby is proven to increase milk flow
- Your baby is safe and sound – no strangers trying to touch or pick up your precious baby. What better place to have your little one than close to you!?
With love from
Emily, BundleBean xxx