Baby Wearing 101
Baby wearing is one of those things - you either love it, wished you could do it but something got in your way, or you could care less. I hear you! So much of motherhood is polarized in this capacity.
For me? Breastfeeding was HORRIBLE - that is a story for another day. So, my go-to baby bonding, snuggling, and soothing technique was the baby carrier. I wore my oldest long into his toddler years and am still wearing my baby girl as she closes in on 16 months.
But here is the thing, if we don't wear our babies correctly, especially in those first 6 months, it can cause harm to their hip development! I believe knowledge is power, so I wanted to share all the tips I have about you, your baby and making this lovely tool work in your favor.
Correct Baby Positioning
Legs should be in an "M" Shape
Our babies are born with immature hip development. The joint is not yet fully formed and relies on proper positioning in those early months to help solidify proper alignment. When using any carrier, make sure your babies legs are in a "M" pattern, with booty below the knees. Or, booty down, knees up as I like to say.
This places the head of the femur solidly into the pelvis to form the "ball and socket" joint.
Position to Avoid
Be sure to avoid legs straight, hanging down as this can lead to mal alignment and hip dysplasia. You all have seen the movie Hangover, right? Remember the classic shot of the baby in sunglasses with their legs hanging straight down? Yup, THAT is what you want to avoid.
If you cannot envision the scene, plug "Hangover movie baby" into your Google images and I promise, it pops up. As you can see in the image to the right, as the babies get older their knees are going to naturally come down towards the level of their hips. All good!
Ain't no one have time for back pain and poor/uncomfortable positioning when wearing your baby. Just a few things to keep in mind.
- If it hurts, don't do it. Stop, adjust, and find a solution. Like so many things in life it should not hurt. Listen to your body
- Check out the illustration above. As your baby gets older, their location in the carrier, on your body, should begin to shift down towards your hips. Early on, it's most comfortable to have those bundles of joy strapped in at chest height, but as they grow, move them south. This is because with increased weight of your child, you want to displace it over your hips, not require your back to take the brunt of the work
- Type of carrier makes a huge difference. Baby wraps are GREAT in the beginning, but as babies get heavier, they can stretch and you might find your baby sagging or hanging out away from your body. It might be time to switch to a more structured carrier to ensure you are well supported.
Common questions & bonus love for baby wearing:
'Will a carrier hurt by babies back?' Nope! The only thing you want ensure is good hip/knee positioning to prevent hip joint issues. Their backs will be just fine!
'My babies knees are level with the hips! How can I fix it?! ' Try moving the carrier down your body a bit. When putting your baby in, make sure to scoop or tuck their booty under and this should more naturally allow the knees to float up towards your natural waist.
Wearing your baby helps to keep your babies head ROUND. There will be a whole other blog post about this, but basically, in those early months, babies spend a ton of time with pressure to the back of their heads. Using a baby carrier vs with stroller or swing can be a great alternative and relieve some pressure.
'My baby hates the carrier!' Some babies do require a bit of a learning curve. Two things: My best advice is to GO OUTSIDE. I find the great outdoors to be an excellent distraction for your little one. Strap them up and then hit the pavement for a walk around the block. Still screaming? Consistency is key. Just give it a try, once a day for a few days. Still on the struggle bus? Put it away for a week or so and try again! Remember, everyone is learning and changing very rapidly. What your baby hates today, they might love next week!
Enjoy those awesome snuggles! You have got this!