Babywearing Basics and Safety Tips

By Ann Marie Rodgerson, Vice President, Babywearing International

“Babywearing” is the term used to describe wearing your child in a soft carrier. There are a wide variety of carriers available on the market today. A 1986 study in Pediatrics found that infants that are carried more cry less than other infants; a 1990 study in Child Development found that infants carried in soft carriers showed a high degree of positive attachment at 13 months, and countless parents around the world have found that wearing their baby in a cloth carrier allows them to tend to their daily tasks while also caring for their infant.

When choosing a carrier for your newborn or baby, you should look for something that will hold your baby in a position you would naturally carry her in your arms. When you place baby in a carrier and then embrace them as though you were holding her in your arms, there should be mimimal movement from the position the carrier uses. Ideally, baby should be in an upright position, high on your chest (close enough to kiss the top of her head). Baby’s legs should be in a spread squat position where her bottom is lower than her knees. This position helps to prevent an important but not often addressed concern — positional asphyxia. This occurs when baby’s head lolls forward and his chin presses to his chest. This can kink the baby’s airway preventing him from getting enough oxygen. This can occur in swings, carseats, strollers, bouncy seats, and baby carriers. When wearing your baby, always be aware of her airway. Some slings available on the market can place baby into this chin-to-chest position with little option for repositioning. If you’re new or confused about the many babywearing options available, read on as I review the different types of carriers and tips for safe positioning.

Pouch Slings

A pouch sling is a tube of fabric, usually custom fitted to the wearer, thus making this style of carrier one that can’t be shared. Even adjustable pouches must be adjusted before putting them on, as the adjustment is to create a non-adjustable pouch that fits snugly. Pouch slings can accomodate both front and hip carries well. For brief periods with older infants, they can be used for back carries. I generally use the back carry position for a “get grabby hands out of the way” moment rather than as a regular carrying position. While a pouch sling seems like a good choice because it has nothing to fiddle with, it does not make a great choice for newborns. It is difficult to achiece ideal positioning with a newborn in a pouch, especially because mom’s size fluctuates a good deal during the postpartum period. The pouch sling becomes a nice quick-carry option around 4 months. An improperly sized pouch is dangerous because baby cannot be properly positioned or secured. An advantage of the pouch sling is it’s size – many moms like to keep a pouch in their diaper bag for emergencies and quick use.

Ring Slings

A ring sling is a length of cloth with two metal rings sewn into one end. The cloth is fed through the rings to make a pouch for baby who can be positioned on front, hip, or for brief periods on the back with an older infant or toddler. This is one of the two types of carriers that can provide ideal newborn positioning. Once mom becomes comfortable with both nursing and wearing the sling, rings slings are also great for nursing on the go. Ring slings are very adjustable, making them easy to share among caregivers and a great option for newborns. They allow the wearer to get baby in and out quickly which can be handy for a newborn who needs regular changes. Some parents find that the one shoulder carry of the ring sling becomes less comfortable with an older heavier infant, though many parents return to them during the “up, down” phase of early toddlerhood.

Mei Tais

A mei tai is a traditional Asian baby carrier. It is essentially a square or rectangle piece of cloth with four straps that are tied around the wearer. It can be used on the front or back easily. You can do hip carries with a mei tai, but it wouldn’t be my first choice. There have been huge variations of the basic mei tai in the last five years, including hoods, headrests, toy clips, and many add ons. They can be a little tricky to achieve ideal positioning with newborns. Because of this, some wearers choose to leave baby’s feet inside the carrier. Make sure the baby’s weight is on her bottom and not her feet if you choose to carry with legs in. You can also use a ribbon to narrow the width of the bottom portion of the carrier to better fit it between baby’s legs. A mei tai is a good choice if you only want to buy one carrier that lasts from birth to toddlerhood and want to be able to share the carrier between caregivers.

Soft Structure Carriers

A soft structure carrier is essentially a mei tai with buckles. Most also have added a heavily padded waist belt to transfer more weight to your hips. Soft structure carriers are designed with back carries in mind, but can be used on the front successfully by many parents. Many can also do hip carries, but like a mei tai, I don’t think it is the most comfortable choice. Soft structure carriers are designed with older babies and toddlers in mind. Some offer infant inserts to try and make them work for newborns, but they still cannot achieve ideal positioning. Paired with a ring sling or wrap, this could be a great choice for your older infant or toddler.

Wraps

The final type of carrier is a wrap or simple piece of cloth. You can purchase commercially available wraps or you can make your own. It is wrapped around the wearer in a variety of ways to produce the most comfortable and ergonomic carries. Wraps come in two types: stretchy or woven. A stretchy wrap can be used for front or hip carries, but should NEVER be used for back carries. A back carry in a stretchy wrap is a dangerous choice because baby could push against the fabric causing it to roll down and release baby. A woven wrap is the one carrier that does everything well — front, back, hip, newborns, toddlers, you name it. However, that versatility comes with a higher learning curve on how to wear a wrap. Parents can learn to use a wrap via online videos  or from their local babywearing group.

To learn more about babywearing, visit Babywearing International at www.babywearinginternational.org, or online forums like www.thebabywearer.com, or from your local babywearing group.

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Ann Marie Rodgerson is the Vice President of Babywearing International. Upon entering parenthood, Ann Marie failed to find a successful carrier option for her daughter despite her best efforts. She was delighted to discover Babywearing International of DC-MD-VA after the birth of her second child and set about learning as much as she could to help prevent other parents from the same frustrations she experienced as a new mom.  She is now helps parents around the greater DC area to wear their babies safely and comfortably while regularly wearing her middle and youngest daughters.

Safety Warning Issued on Sleep Positioners

 

This past week, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warned consumers to stop using infant sleep positioners. During the last 13 years, the agencies have received 12 reports of infants between the ages of one and four months who died when they suffocated in sleep positioners or became trapped and suffocated between a sleep positioner and the side of a crib or bassinet. The suffocation typically occurred when the infants rolled from a side to stomach position. CPSC has also received dozens of reports of infants who were placed on their backs or sides in sleep positioners and then found later in potentially hazardous positions within or next to the sleep positioners.

There are two primary types of infant sleep positioners:  flat mats with side bolsters or inclined (wedge) mats with side bolsters. Manufacturers of both types typically claim that their products help keep infants on their backs and reduce the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). However, the FDA has never cleared an infant sleep positioner to prevent or reduce the risk of SIDS, and CPSC and FDA are unaware of any scientific studies to support this claim. 

For more information, including photos of infant sleep positioners, go to http://www.cpsc.gov/cpscpub/prerel/prhtml10/10358.html. You can report a problem with an infant sleep positioner through the FDA’s MedWatch program at http://www.fda.gov/Safety/MedWatch/HowToReport/default.htm or with the CPSC at https://www.cpsc.gov/cgibin/incident.aspx.

Week of Giveaways: $25 Gift Card & Teether from Ecopiggy

This giveaway is now closed.

Welcome to day six — the final day of the Giving Birth with Confidence Week of Giveaways. If you’re just joining us, visit Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday’s posts for more chances to win great items!

For our final giveaway, we are giving away two $25 gift cards + a RiNGLEY Natural Teether (an additional $16 value) from Ecopiggy, a national distributor of natural children’s products, from reusable lunch bags, to organic teethers, to wellness products.

Who is Ecopiggy? Find out, direct from the owners:

“All children deserve to have the wonderful experience of super-soft organic cotton against their skin and nontoxic products near their sweet little mouths, and Ecopiggy is dedicated to creating a business form that gives more than it takes… just like a loving parent.

In fact, we don’t see ourselves as a business, but a family of devoted community members, seeking a healthier future for our children. Words can only do so much, though, and so we dedicate ourselves to making a difference through the actions we take.”
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Two Giving Birth with Confidence readers will win a $25 gift card and a RiNGLEY Teether from Ecopiggy!

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Here’s How to Enter

Everyone has three chances to win — choose one or all three!

1. Visit Ecopiggy then come back here and leave a comment to tell us about what you would buy with your $25 gift card.

2. Create a login and become a member of the Giving Birth with Confidence online community. It’s FREE and easy. Leave a second comment on this post to let us know that you’re a new member or if you are already a member.

3. Tweet about this giveaway with the following text: Enter to win today’s #giveaway week: $25 Gift Card! To enter, post a comment at www.givingbirthwithconfidence.org & RT this message! Be sure to come back here and leave a third comment to tell us that you tweeted.

This giveaway is open to anyone, worldwide. It will end this Sunday, August 15 at 11:59 p.m. EST. Winners will be announced on Monday, August 16. Good luck!

Week of Giveaways: Discover the Sea Soother/Baby Toy

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Welcome to day four of the Giving Birth with Confidence Week of Giveaways – more than half way to the end of our week! Be sure to join us Friday and Saturday for the last two giveaways, and if you’re just joining us, visit Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday’s posts for more chances to win cool items!
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For today’s giveaway, we are giving away two Discover the Sea Carousel Soothers from Learning Curve by Lamaze (a $54.99 value!). Like I mentioned on Monday, I just love the Lamaze toys, and this one in particular is so cool. In the early days, you can use it as a crib soother, complete with lights, music and movement, and then it converts to a floor toy to entertain baby! Baby products that have an extended life are a hit in my book.

With soothing music and colorful creatures swimming around, the Discover the Sea Soother is a perfect toy for gently lulling baby to sleep. Easy-to-use attachment fits most cribs, even convertibles.  The Discover the Sea Soother includes a soft night light and soothing music, which can be set for 10-40 minutes and is re-activated when baby cries.  As your baby grows, the Discover the Sea Soother can be converted into an interactive floor toy.  Characters spin while music plays, encouraging baby to bat at them, which helps to strengthen hand-eye coordination.

The Learning Curve Lamaze Brand is dedicated to creating products that help baby grow, discover and learn. The Lamaze Infant Development System® by Learning Curve brings parents products that focus on infant development while at the same time provide engaging play for the child.

Two Giving Birth with Confidence readers will win a Discover the Sea Carousel Soother from Learning Curve by Lamaze!

 

Here’s How to Enter

Everyone has three chances to win — choose one or all three!

1. Leave a comment on this post to let us know your all-time favorite lullaby.

2. Create a login and become a member of the Giving Birth with Confidence online community. It’s FREE and easy. Leave a second comment on this post to let us know that you’re a new member or if you are already a member.

3. Tweet about this giveaway with the following text: Enter to win today’s #giveaway week: Crib Soother! To enter, post a comment at www.givingbirthwithconfidence.org & RT this message! Be sure to come back here and leave a third comment to tell us that you tweeted.

This giveaway is open to anyone, worldwide. It will end this Sunday, August 15 at 11:59 p.m. EST. Winners will be announced on Monday, August 16. Good luck!

Week of Giveaways: Belle Baby Carriers

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This giveaway is now closed.

Welcome to day two of the Giving Birth with Confidence Week of Giveaways! We have lots of fun and useful items to give away, so be sure to visit the site each day this week and enter to win. If you’re just joining us, visit yesterday’s giveaway post for another chance to win!

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Today’s giveaway is for one Organic Baby Carrier by Belle Baby Carriers (a $109.95 value!). If you’re a mom-to-be or a new mom without a carrier or sling, you’ll want to enter this giveaway! Not only did I love my carrier for obvious reasons of convenience, but with the birth of my second child (plus a toddler to care for), it was a necessity!  

Belle Baby Carriers designs and manufactures luxurious, high-style baby carriers made from the best materials available – and have been worn by the likes of Angelina Jolie, Jessica Alba, Nicole Kidman and Julia Roberts!

The carrier was designed by two fathers who share a love of the outdoors and a history of design and engineering in the climbing industry. Belle’s organic  carrier collection features 100% certified organic cotton and organic hemp blended fabrics and uses eco-friendly dyes.   

In addition to using eco-friendly materials, Belle practices “green” production — their corporate headquarters, sewers, and warehousing and distribution facility are all located on the Colorado Front Range, allowing them to use the least amount of natural resources possible during the creation and distribution of their products.

And if that’s not cool enough, Belle has donated new carriers to Children’s Hospital in Denver, Colorado, to help promote attachment parenting practices — big kudos from Lamaze!

 
 
One Giving Birth with Confidence reader will win a Belle Baby Carrier in Organic Black or Organic Earth ($109.95 value)!
 
 
 
 

Here’s How to Enter

Everyone has three chances to win — choose one or all three!
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1. Visit the Belle Baby Carrier Web site then come back here and leave a comment on this post telling us about your favorite Belle Baby Carrier print or color.

2. Create a login and become a member of the Giving Birth with Confidence online community. It’s FREE and easy. Leave a second comment on this post to let us know that you’re a new member or if you are already a member.

3. Tweet about this giveaway with the following text: Enter to win today’s #giveaway week: Baby Carrier! To enter, post a comment at www.givingbirthwithconfidence.org & RT this message! Be sure to come back here and leave a third comment to tell us that you tweeted.
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This giveaway is open to anyone, worldwide. It will end this Sunday, August 15 at 11:59 p.m. EST. Winners will be announced on Monday, August 16. Good luck!

Week of Giveaways: Learning Curve Baby Toys (by Lamaze)

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This giveaway is now closed.

Happy Monday and welcome to the Giving Birth with Confidence Week of Giveaways! We have lots of fun and useful items to give away, so be sure to visit the site each day this week and enter to win.

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For our first giveaway, we have four bundles of rattles and teethers in the Lamaze High Contrast Line from Learning Curve by Lamaze. When my kids were babies, the Lamaze toys were always my favorite — they were bright, fun and outlasted just about all of our other toys that were dropped, dragged, chewed and drooled on.

The Learning Curve Lamaze Brand is dedicated to creating products that help baby grow, discover and learn. The Lamaze Infant Development System® by Learning Curve brings parents products that focus on infant development while at the same time provide engaging play for the child.

Earlier this spring, Learning Curve introduced a new line of high contrast toys that encourage the development of your baby’s vision. Made with soft, premium fabrics, these toys incorporate high contrast patterns, bright colors and feature beloved animal characters. Packed with developmental features and affordably priced, this new line includes teethers, rattles, squeakers and a number of other toys to entertain and engage your baby.  

 

 

Why Parents Choose Lamaze Toys

  • High quality construction  and premium fabrics
  • Developmental attributes:
    • Large eyes engage baby
    • Bright colors and bold patterns stimulate vision
    • Premium fabrics for tactile development
    • Rattles, crinkle, and jingle for auditory and language development
  • Offers babies the “Right Toy at the Right Time” with easy to identify icons and age grades
 
 
 
Four Giving Birth with Confidence readers will win a bundle of three toys each (rattles and teethers) from Learning Curve by Lamaze!
 

 
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Here’s How to Enter

Everyone has three chances to win — choose one or all three!
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1. Visit the Learning Curve by Lamaze Web site then come back here and leave a comment on this post telling us about your favorite Lamaze toy.

2. Create a login and become a member of the Giving Birth with Confidence online community. It’s FREE and easy. Leave a second comment on this post to let us know that you’re a new member or if you are already a member.

3. Tweet about this giveaway with the following text: Enter to win today’s #giveaway week: Baby Toys! To enter, post a comment at www.givingbirthwithconfidence.org & RT this message! Be sure to come back here and leave a third comment to tell us that you tweeted.
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This giveaway is open to anyone, worldwide. It will end this Sunday, August 15 at 11:59 p.m. EST. Winners will be announced on Monday, August 16. Good luck!