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Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Babywearing Basics

Babywearing- Where to Start?

Have you been considering wearing your baby, but aren't sure where to start? What carrier is the best, how do they work, what's the benefit? Let's try to break down the basics for you so that you have a starting point in picking out your new lifesaver.

We started wearing Baby Z when she was a tiny newborn. Being close to mom or dad kept her calm, the movement soothed her, and we were still able to get things done because our hands were free. Over a year later and we haven't stopped wearing her! Now with Baby #2 on the way, keeping our hands free will be even more important so that we can help meet the needs of both children.

Science has proven that babies thrive with lots of touch, and babywearing is one way to accomplish that. Some studies have even shown that worn babies cry less. Combine that with the comfort and convenience the caregiver gets from babywearing and its definitely worth a try.

The main three types of baby carriers are wraps, soft structured carriers and ring slings. While there are other types, we'll focus on those three. In our house, we actually have one of each since they meet different needs and we've changed our preference as our daughter has grown.

Wraps are long strips of fabric that are tied around the wearer's body, creating a secure pocket for baby. Wraps are especially helpful for newborns and the first few months with baby and most brands are able to be used from around 7-35+ pounds. They can be used for front, back, and hip carry and distribute the weight across two shoulders to keep you comfortable. Newborns fit well in these because they are so versatile and support their head and neck well, especially while sleeping.

Boba Baby Wrap Carrier                                           Baby K'tan Baby Carrier

The only drawback to wraps is that you have to figure out how to wrap them! This can be overwhelming the first few times and is definitely an art, however, each wrap comes with detailed directions and there are plenty of online videos to guide you. Many people prefer to practice with a doll the first few times to get the hang of it, however, once you've got the process down, its simple to repeat and you always get a great fit adjusted to you. Check out all of the different brands of wraps here.

Soft structured carriers are hard not to fall in love with. They are structured fabric with padded and adjustable shoulder and waist straps which clip, snap, or buckle in place. One of the main benefits is that are they easily adjustable and simple to put on and take off. This means that they can be adjusted to fit all sizes of parents and easily shared between caregivers. Soft structured carriers also put the baby's weight predominantly on your hips rather than your shoulders, so you can carry your tired toddler with no problem!

                                              LILLEbaby Carrier Positons

While soft structured carriers can support babies from 7-40 pounds, depending on the brand, many of them cannot be used for infants that are not able to hold their head up on their own without an additional insert. This makes them most useful for babies around 4+ months. Soft structured carriers can be used in front, back and hip carry positions and you'll find yourself changing your favorite position as your baby grows. Check out all of the great options for wearing your baby with a Lillebaby carrier here! Younger babies benefit from the support of being worn on the front face in. When your baby begins to watch the world a bit more, keeping them worn on the front, but face out, is another option. The back carry is generally recommended for children over 12 months and is often more comfortable as they get heavier. Soft structured carriers are comfortable enough for both the baby and the wearer that they can be worn for long periods of time, keeping everyone happy. Visit Nicki's Diapers to see some of our favorite soft structured carrier options!

A ring sling is a length of cloth that is wrapped from the wearer's shoulder to the opposite hip, back to shoulder, and secured with two rings. They are so easy to adjust and quickly slide a child in and out of. Ring slings may have shoulder padding and can be used for either front or hip carry. You can use a ring sling with children 7-35 pounds, adjusting the carry as they grow and gain more control of their neck. 

Tula Ring Slings                              Beco Ring Sling

While ring slings are one of the easiest carriers to use, they also put all of the weight on one shoulder and are often preferred for use during short time periods. When your toddler gets cranky and demands to be held while you attempt to make dinner, ring slings make it easy to slide them in quickly, keep your hands free, and let them take in all the action from a comfortable hip carry position. View all of our ring sling options here to pick out your favorite brand and print!

As you can see, there is no winner takes all when it comes to types of baby carriers. They are so versatile and each type has its benefits for certain stages of babywearing. To learn more about the benefits of babywearing, visit Babywearing International, a non-profit whose mission is to promote babywearing as a universally accepted practice. You may even be able to find a chapter located near you where you can try out several different types of baby carriers to see which you prefer before purchasing one. 

Any other babywearing moms out there that have good tips to add or comments on which type is your favorite? Leave a comment below to let us know about it!

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