Babywearing for beginners (and how it’s helping me)April 3, 2017
Recently, when I posted a photo of me struggling to do the supermarket shopping with a toddler (sitting in the trolley) and a newborn (in a car seat in the trolley), I had loads of comments with one suggestion in common: babywearing. “You need a stretchy wrap!” “I couldn’t have survived the early months with two kids without a carrier” and “Babywearing will make it much easier!” came the replies. I had clearly missed a trick.
I didn’t have a good carrier when Phoebe was a baby, but this time I need all the help (and hands) I can get, so enlisted the help of Sarah Lander from Luxe Carriers to give me a crash course in babywearing. We’d met at a couple of events, but it just wasn’t on my radar until now; I had a great stroller, and was fine, thankyouverymuch, but when Tabitha came along, there were new issues, such as nursery pick up and drop off, and the shopping, that I just hadn’t considered.
Also, for whatever reason, I’m just not bonding with Tabitha as easily and quickly as I did with Phoebe, and Sarah assured me that having her close could help, and that was even more important to me than the practical side.
Sarah is very involved in the babywearing scene here in Dubai, and takes part in markets and events where you can get advice as well as purchase carriers, from ring slings to soft structured styles, chosen by her from brands from across the world, including Tula, Ergobaby, Boba, and Emeibaby. Sarah also does consultations, which is what I needed just a few weeks after giving birth, so she came to my house armed with wraps, slings and carriers for me to try.
Her first suggestion was the Hana wrap, a long length of soft bamboo cotton that looks, frankly, intimidating and a bit baffling. How could that work, exactly…? But these wraps are brilliant for newborns as they promote bonding and skin to skin (make sure junior is wearing a nappy!), as well as boosting milk supply. They’re also suitable for premature babies, and can be useful if your little one is suffering with reflux or colic, as it keeps them close and in the best position.
After a couple of goes – where I got the giggles trying to understand how the material magically turned into a baby carrier – we’d cracked it, and popped baby Tabitha in for a snuggle. I was instantly sold, and it actually made me quite emotional to have her so settled and happy, cosied up next to me. The added bonus? My hands were totally free and I could even sit and get some work done while she snoozed!
Since my first try I’ve had Tabitha in the wrap almost daily, either for a quick trip to the shops or to soothe her during the infamous witching hour – it really works for her. It can get a bit hot, so remember to wear something light underneath, and you might want to put your baby in a sleepsuit that’s a little big so it doesn’t restrict them.
As with all baby carriers, when using a wrap, be sure to follow the TICKS guidelines:
Tight – your baby needs to be held tightly to you for safety, and secure in an upright position.
In sight – you should be able to see your baby at all times, allowing you to check their breathing, position, temperature and feeding cues.
Close enough to kiss – they should be high enough that you could kiss the top of their head.
Keep chin off chest – your baby’s chin should be about two finger’s distance away from their chest for the safest position.
Supported back – your carrier should be tight, but still allow you to slide your hands in with ease. An upright position and adequate tightness will support their spine, and be comfortable for you.
We also tried out a ring sling, which is super quick to put on and get the baby in (and can be used up to toddler age) and Sarah brought along an newborn insert for the Ergobaby Original that I’d bought ages ago, tried to use, got freaked out by all the straps, then abandoned. Sure enough, with some simple adjustments it was great, and would be perfect for longer trips. Men, she says, favour this style, which I’ll report back on…
While I had previous misconceptions of baby wearing being, well, a bit hippy-dippy (sorry Sarah!), since Tabitha and I have been trying it out, I’m a total convert. Much like a handbag, there are different carriers for different situations, so don’t expect one brand or type to fit the bill all the time. For us, at this age the Hana wrap is lovely to use, and we’ll be moving on to a soft structured style when she is a little older (perfect timing for travelling over the summer). I’m yet to try Phoebe on my back with the Ergobaby, but after a fairly back-breaking trip to the beach yesterday when she refused to walk a step, I might give it go soon!
If you’re trying to find the right carrier for you, this chart is also useful for comparing the various styles, and this checklist might help:
- The seat of the carrier goes from baby’s knee to knee
- Baby’s bottom is in an optimal M shape – bottom lower than knees
- The carrier supports (and doesn’t straighten) the baby’s spine from the neck all the way down to their bottom
- The carrier allows the wearer to keep baby above their belly button
- The carrier is tight so that the baby becomes part of the wear’s center of gravity
Sarah Lander from Luxe Carriers gives us the lowdown
What is babywearing?
Babywearing is a form of baby transport. As with most things, babywearing can take some practice, but once you get the hang of it (pun intended) you will realise the benefits of having your baby close enough to kiss. This technique has been practiced for centuries around the world. Think Inuit mothers, Guatemala mamas and Benin babies. Babywearing has gained popularity and modern baby carriers are modeled after carriers that have been used around the world for centuries.
Who can wear a baby?
As long as the carrier fits both baby and wearer ergonomically anyone can wear a baby! Babywearing is for mums, dads, grandparents, friends, siblings (providing they are old enough), nannies or caregivers can even wear a baby. As long as they are being held and having their needs met instantly, a baby does not care who is carrying them.
Note: don’t create your own method of wrapping a baby without knowing what you’re doing. Don’t wing it.
What are the benefits of babywearing?
For the baby…
- Carried babies feel more secure, cry less and learn more in their calm state (and they can hear up to 1,000 words a day!)
- Wearing baby in the first 3 months mimics the womb and allows the baby to make a smooth transition into the big wide world
- Points on the wearer’s chest massage pressure points on a baby’s abdomen that help relieve colic
- Keeping baby upright in a carrier helps to suppress the burning sensation a baby gets with reflux
- An ergonomic babycarrier will support a baby’s spine and hip development
- Carried babies are more independent in the long term
- Kangaroo care is brilliant for premature babies – skin to skin, with the baby on their parent’s chest and a stretchy wrap to cocoon both parent and baby
For the wearer…
- Promotes bonding with baby
- Supports breastfeeding and encourages breastmilk production
- Can help to fight off post-natal depression
- Super convenient! Gives the wearer their arms back to carry on with daily activities
- Great if you have a bad back. Carrying baby close to your center of gravity helps the wearer to keep a perfect posture
- Allows a new mum to get back into gentle exercise and strengthening the core muscles that have been stretched for the last few months
- Allows the wearer to learn and respond to baby’s cues faster
For more information and to shop online, visit Luxe Carriers and check out the Dubai Babywearing group on Facebook. One-hour consultations with Sarah are available as one-on-one sessions for AED450, or for groups of four (AED200 per person) and include an introduction to the various styles, advice and 15% off your first purchase.
Photos by Katy Captures.