Babywearing is becoming increasingly more popular with many different types and brands to choose from. All over the world women have fashioned slings out of various blankets, fabrics and cloths.
THE BENEFITS OF BABYWEARING
- It is great for bonding with your baby.
- It supports breastfeeding.
- It helps reduce symptoms of reflux and indigestion in your baby.
- It provides deep touch pressure which helps calm your baby. Deep touch pressure affects the nervous system slows the heart rate and results in a calming affect.
- It provides vestibular-proprioceptive stimulation which also helps calm your baby by inhibiting the movement muscles and relaxing the body.
- It is convenient to have free hands.
HOW TO WEAR A BABY CARRIER
Before you buy a carrier it is important that you know how to wear one correctly so that your baby can be kept safe. Regardless of whether you decide to wear your baby on your back or in the front, facing in or facing out, Airway and Position are the two most important things you have to remember.
Keep Your Baby’s Airway Clear:
Young babies do not have good neck control. The head and neck need to be supported to keep the airway open as there is a real risk of suffocation in a baby carrier.
- The chin must not rest on the chest but rather be angled up.
- The face must not be pressing into the chest. Rather position the ear against chest.
- Make sure there is no fabric covering the face. The face must be visible.
- Carry your baby close and tight against your body. If your baby is loose, he or she can slide down in the carrier and obstruct their airway.
Position your baby properly:
Improper positioning can also result in airway compromise as well as increase the risk of hip dysplasia.
- Keep your baby upright at all times, except when breastfeeding (remember to reposition your baby again afterwards).
- Position baby high enough to be able to kiss his or her forehead.
- Your baby’s knees should be positioned higher than his or her bottom and the legs must be spread in order to support the hips and spine (much like a frog).
The Consortium of UK Sling Manufacturers and Retailers have developed an acronym (T.I.C.K.S) to help you remember the correct way to carry your child.
In view at all times
Close enough to kiss
Keep chin off the chest
HIP DYSPLASIA EXPLAINED
Hip dysplasia is an abnormality of the hip joint where the ball part of the joint does not sit securely in its socket. An infant’s hip joint is made up of mostly soft cartilage unlike an adult’s hard bone. Therefore it’s easier for the ball part of the joint to slip out. Chronic poor positioning is an important risk factor for the development of hip dysplasia in infants, especially in the first 6 months of life. When the hips are not supported and the legs are kept straight the resulting forces make the joint unstable (fig. 1). As a child gets older the bones start to harden and the joint becomes more stable.
CONCERNS ABOUT SLINGS
A sling is basically a tubular piece of fabric in which a baby nestles. They are great for skin-to-skin contact and bonding, however there are a few safety concerns:
- It is difficult to support and control the position of the head and neck.
- There is a risk of restricting airflow if the fabric completely encases the baby.
- There is a risk of obstructing the airway if the face presses up against the fabric.
- Slings do not allow for proper support of the hips and therefore there is a risk for hip dysplasia.
CHOOSING A BABY CARRIER
Make sure it is suitable for your baby’s age: Slings and outward facing carriers are not recommended for newborns up to around 4 months of age.
Make sure it can provide proper positioning:Some carriers do not support the spine and hips adequately. Take your baby along when buying a carrier and test it out. Have a look at the sitting position your baby adopts in both inward and outward facing positions. Some carriers are better for inward facing than outward facing. It is easier for an inward facing baby to lean against you and assume a frog-like position with the hips bent. In an outward facing position the hips may not be supported as much and the legs can then hang straight.
Make sure it is comfortable for you to wear: Babies grow very fast in the first few months. Make sure you choose a carrier that is ergonomic and helps take the increasing weight off your back.
Make sure the carrier is ASTM approved: Many baby products have to adhere to strict safety standards and baby carriers are no exception.
DOS AND DON’TS
- Do not drink hot fluids while wearing your baby.
- Do not drive a car or ride a bicycle while wearing your baby.
- Do not do any form of intense exercise while wearing your baby.
Whatever carrier you do go for, remember to wear it safely!
Babyslingsafety, (n.d.) The T.I.C.K.S Rule for Safe Babywearing. [Online]. Available from: http://babyslingsafety.co.uk [Accessed15 August 2018].
Esposito, G. et al., (2013) Infant Calming Responses during Maternal Carrying in Humans and Mice. Current Biology. [Online] 23, pp. 739-745. Available from: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.cub.2013.03.041 [Accessed 14 August 2018].
International Hip Dysplasia Institute, (2015) Baby Carriers, Seats, & Other Equipment. [Online]. Available from: http://hipdysplasia.org/developmental-dysplasia-of-the-hip/prevention/baby-carriers-seats-and-other-equipment/ [Accessed 14 August 2018].
Ludington-Hoe, S.M. (2011) Evidence-Based Review of Physiologic Effects of Kangaroo Care. Current Women’s Health Reviews. [Online] 7, pp. 243-253. Available from: http://eurekaselect.com/88428 [Accessed 14 August 2018].