When done correctly, babywearing can be a wonderful thing. Proximity to baby. Two free arms. Frequent breastfeeding. The reasons to wear your baby are abundant.
But like anything related to babies, when certain safety measures are not followed, babywearing can become tragic. Most baby products – carriers and wraps included – are perfectly safe when used properly.
So while I am a major advocate for baby wearing, and I encourage all mothers to at least try it out (to give yourself a break, at the very least), I also believe in practicing proper safety at all times. Carrier style, brand preference, age of the babies – all of these factors change from person to person, but the steps necessary to make sure your baby is safe while being worn are always the same.
Observe baby breathing regularly. Just because you are free to do something with your arms besides hold baby does not mean you should drop your guard. Always remain vigilant about checking baby’s breathing. Make sure there is no fabric covering baby’s face and that her chin is not resting on her chest, as both factors can cause difficulty breathing. Check baby’s position frequently to make sure her airway is not constricted and that her head is above the rest of her body. Baby’s head should always be close enough to kiss.
Hold baby securely when putting him into the carrier, and always check straps and buckles before inserting your baby. Even if you are a seasoned baby-wearer, be sure to keep a firm hold on your baby until you know he is secure in the wrap or carrier.
Support baby when you bend over. Newborns should have their heads supported at all times while in a wrap or carrier (while being careful to keep their mouths and noses clear), but it is especially important to support the heads of ALL babies (no matter the age) when you bend over. There is always the slight possibility that baby could slip out of the carrier while you are bending over to pick something up, which is a good reason to always check straps before putting her in. But to avoid the risk, make sure you have at least one hand supporting her head when necessary.
Position baby so that her KNEES are higher than her BUTT. In other words, baby should be sitting in a frog-legged position in the carrier. This position provides the best support for baby’s growing hip joints. There is much concern in the baby-wearing world over whether baby wearing causes or exacerbates joint conditions such as hip dysplasia. Proper position of the joints (meaning knees over bottom) will ensure that unnecessary strain is not being placed on baby’s hip joints. (This is why many people, myself included, are not fans of forward-facing carriers such as the Baby Bjorn, which allow baby’s legs to dangle loosely. Imagine how your hip joints might feel if your legs were dangling above the ground while you straddled a stool. Now imagine your baby in that position while his joints are still developing. More on Hip Dysplasia and babywearing HERE.)
Take care while cooking, cleaning or exercising. NEVER run or jog while wearing your baby. Most manufactures recommend not cooking or handling hot liquids while baby-wearing. I must admit that I cook often with H in the carrier, though I am constantly aware of how close she might be to hot surfaces or liquids. I know several moms who cook safely with their babies in a wrap, as well. I am not recommending you cook while baby-wearing, but if you do, please be very aware of your baby’s proximity to cook surfaces.
ENJOY wearing your baby. After all, they are only this small ONCE, and they will most likely never want to be quite so close to you again. Just make sure you are wearing baby SAFELY at all times.
♥ The Midnight Mama