Babywearing: The Dos, Donts, How and Why

babywearing-twins

It seems the older the boys get, the more interested I become in babywearing. When Zadey was a baby, eight years ago, we bought the only baby carrier we knew about then and used it all the time. It wasn’t something that I studied or learned about.

I didn’t feel like I had to, to be honest. But, I know and understand now, that’s not really the case. What I also know is that we didn’t pick out a carrier that long-term would be good for Zadey or for us.

joanne-wearing-zadey

Joanne wearing Zadey at 2 months old in Las Vegas. (The carrier is open for the picture.)

Honestly, the only reason why I think I’ve dug more in to babywearing is because I have twins. And I so enjoyed wearing Zadey as a baby that I’ve read, read, and read on different ways to tandem babywear.

My boys love being snugged in close, and with the cold weather here in Indiana, I have found it a very convenient way for me to be able to run errands and keep them warm in and out of the stores.

Though, I have to admit, Oliver is much more in to being worn than Henry. Oliver is quick to be annoyed with me if I’m wearing his brother and not him. Henry prefers it only if I’m wearing them both, giving him an over-the-shoulder playmate.

For me, it’s about the bond and the closeness I have with my boys. It’s about keeping them snuggled, warm, and happy when I have to get things done and their fussy. It’s about not using two shopping carts when I run an errand alone. It’s about comfort, bonding, and security… for all of us.

Having twins changes everything. If you think one baby will rock your world, imagine having two. And with those two, babywearing has been an intricate part of getting things done; and freedom out of the house when I’m without help.

But, I know a few more things about babywearing now than when Zadey was a baby or even when the boys were first born. And just like many other parenting topics that I’ve become passionate about, this is another one.

So, there’s my history with babywearing… which brings me to today.

You know, the number one thing that searched for on my blog is “babywearing twins.” I receive more search engine hits per day on this keyword than any others. So I think it’s only right that with that tiny little post that shows up, I also talk more in depth about babywearing. Because there is a best and not-so-great way to wearing a baby.

Though I would never want to discourage people from wearing their children, any way they can, I would like to encourage some thought to do this to help you AND your child.

Why Should I Wear My Baby?

There are so many positive reasons to wear your baby. And not just your newborn, either. Even toddlers love the security and closeness they have with mom and dad when being worn. So, here’s some reasons why you should wear your baby:

  • To have your hands free, while still snuggling and cradling your baby.
  • To help young babies learn to regulate their body temperature.
  • To avoid using strollers and navigating them around stores while shopping.
  • To keep strangers curious hands off of your baby (they’re less likely to touch a baby next to mom or dad).
  • To help in those early moments of bonding.
  • Because it’s easy and convenient.

How Do I Wear My Baby?

babywearing

There are seriously a lot of different methods to carrying your baby. There are some safe ways, and there are not so safe ways. Some ways will be easier and more comfortable for you while others may cause strain or be uncomfortable. As long as you understand the practices of safe babywearing, you can work to get a carry that is comfortable for both you and baby.

When Baby is Newborn

Newborn babies are so snugly, and nothing beats having them in a wrap. I’ve discussed babywearing twins in a previous post and I used a Moby for that. I lucked out borrowing that wrap from my sister-in-law and it was crazy useful for us; especially while the boys were under 10 lbs each.

Good options for beginner wraps are the Boba wrap, Moby wrap, and the new Moby woven wrap.

Bigger Babies & Toddlers

As babies get older, I prefer the “soft structured carriers.” That’s exactly what you see me using above, in the Boba 4G carrier. I really like this one because it has the option of being used to wear baby on your back, facing inward. It’s actually one of the few soft structured carrier that gives you this option. The Moby GO is also very awesome, very comfortable, however, it only allows you to wear baby on the front.

There are many moms that I have met that get very into woven wraps and the entire babywearing experience. I applaud them, but I have to honestly say, it’s difficult for me to promote the idea of a $150 wrap… I mean, just fabric. I can’t, I just can’t. I must prefer the soft structured carriers that I have and the flexibility they give me to wear my babies in ways that are comfortable for me to so.

That’s not to say, however, that I don’t support the actual woven wrap. I do, very much so. But that is because I believe that the babywearing experience is one that needs to be comfortable for both you and baby. For some, soft structured carriers aren’t comfortable at all. And I can’t honestly tell you if they are for me or not, as I have never used a wrap for my babies outside of infancy.

Babywearing Dos and Donts

I won’t tell you that there are wrong ways to wear your baby. However, I will tell you that there are safer practices for wearing your baby, and all these things should be considered when purchasing wraps and soft structured carriers.

Common sense for me says the best practice is to wear your baby naturally; that would be with them facing inward. Your baby naturally wraps their legs around you, and that is a comfortable position for both of you. And that same principal applies whether you’re wearing them on the front or back.

boba-safe-babywearing3

This is not comfortable babywearing.

I have made the mistake of using the wrong carrier to face my baby out and I cannot begin to share the ways that babywearing like this made me hurt.

To sustain the weight of Oliver being worn facing out using this carrier I had to arch my back to keep us both up right. I had him on, to take this picture, about 10 minutes and I was so sore after doing this.

The straps also dig in to me on the inside. It’s like the straps do not equally support his weight (he’s 30 lbs). So even if I didn’t have to arch my back to support his weight, I’d still quickly be uncomfortable because regardless of how tight or loose I make those straps, they still dig in to me.

Oliver also isn’t that comfortable. If you notice, he’s not very well supported. Carriers (and wraps) should cover baby knee to knee. Look at where this carrier hits between his legs in comparison to where his knees are.

Lastly, regarding this carrier, the other thing I don’t like is that the actual body of the carrier does not offer full support for his body. You’ll notice that the carrier is contoured only to the shape of a baby’s back, leaving the sides open. In the cold, this doesn’t leave him warm or even supported. He’s doing all of the work to keep his body in that position and that can become exhausting to little babies.

Now, let’s expand on the idea that carriers (and wraps) should cover baby knee to knee.

Think, for a second, how you hold your bigger baby (15+ lbs). I support my boys with my arm under their butts, with one knee at my elbow and another knee at my hand. Do you? So, if you do, would you conclude then that knee to knee support is also natural?

babywearing knee to knee support

Using the above picture as a reference, just looking at the position of Henry’s legs, knees, and butts. To me, the look alone shows me that he’s in a comfortable position. One he could sustain for quite a long time, hours even. And though he his on my back, because he’s facing inward, those legs are naturally wrapped around me the same way they would if I picked him up and held him belly to belly.

Boba 4G Soft Structured Baby Carrier

Now, opening up the whole picture from above you get the chance to see the entire back of our Boba 4G carrier. You’ll notice that Henry is covered, with the carrier, all the way up to his armpits. The carrier has truly created a natural seat for him. And with the position that he’s sitting in, should he fall asleep, which is very likely, he’ll end up with his face in my back instead of flopping backwards. (And, I’m telling you this from experience, too.)

In Summary

Babywearing really is a wonderful and amazing experience. But, giving yourself just information and research, you’ll quickly discover that some options are more natural and comfortable than others. Just remember:

  • Pick a wrap that allows you enough length for your size, your babies size, and the type of wrap carry you’re going to perform.
  • Wrap/Carry baby in positions that seems logically natural to you and how you would hold your baby, anyway.
  • Consider how baby will fall asleep in any wrap/carrier you use and how that will sustain their comfort.
  • Ensure that baby is wrapped from to knee to knee for comfort and safety.
  • Do make sure that when you have added your baby and carrier to your body, you’re walking in a normal comfortable way without over compensating for the additional weight.
  • Do enjoy these bonding moments… this time is fleeting!
  • Don’t get discouraged with different babywearing concepts. Those that love it will help and support you, don’t hesitate to reach out (even to me).
  • Despite what other people say, babywearing does not make you a hippie! ;)

58 Comments

  1. says

    We actually never worn our kids like that, i tried one of the carriers but it just didn’t feel right to me.. I can see how the bond between mother and child would be great with this.. i heard that they like the feel of the mothers heartbeat like when they were in the womb.

  2. says

    Your baby looks so happy being worn like that. It seems like it would free you up to get stuff done without feeling like you are neglecting your baby because you need to do things around the house or go run errands. It looks like a pretty fun place to take in all the sites when you are out and about.

  3. says

    I love that picture! My oldest son and his wife both baby wear their daughter (8 mos. old in a few days). They love it, and baby does too!

  4. says

    I didn’t do any baby wearing with my oldest. I did a little more with my second. If I have another, I’d probably look for a good baby carrier and do more baby wearing!

  5. says

    That looks super comfy! Neither one of our little ones like to be worn, but I wish that they did! It would make errands easier lol. JW likes to crawl up on daddys shoulders at least!

  6. says

    Red grew so fast for me as a baby he literally strained my back. 1+ pounds a week for TWELVE weeks. It was all I could do to carry him after a certain point. Now, he’s 2.5 and 37 pounds, wearing a 4-5T. IF we decide to have another one, I’ll certainly baby wear most of the time!

  7. kim says

    I’ve not heard of the slogan “baby wearing” but do like the idea. I would have done it if I didn’t have a bad back. I’m an older mom so little one rode on daddy’s back!!@

  8. says

    Reading this post reminded me of how much I babywearing. =( I loved wearing my daughter in my SSC’s but she too heavy for them now. I can technically still back carry her in my Boba but it kills my back! These are great do’s and don’ts!

  9. says

    I LOVE the Beco Butterfly — it’s the best carrier ever. I don’t think Beco makes it anymore, but our daughter used to sit in the baby carrier all the time. I preferred it to a stroller because I felt that she was closer to me and it felt safer.

  10. says

    I absolutely loved carrying my second boy. Washing dishes, working at the computer, shopping – everywhere. Unfortunately HE decided he was done with the sling a lot sooner than I would have liked :(

  11. says

    Babywearing is something I din’t do with my first child, and I’m so hoping for another to try this out. And many other things.

    You learn as you go, and there are so many things I would do different, if I’m lucky enough to be a mama again.

  12. Toddy Hope Peters says

    I don’t understand your comment about the Boba being the *only* carrier which can be used to wear baby inwards on the back?

    • says

      Actually, you caught an error and one that I will fix. When I first wrote the post I believed Boba was the only carrier that allowed baby to be worn on the back while facing inward. A great deal of soft structured carriers allow for baby to be worn on the back, but only while facing out.

      I did my research and though I changed this line before the post published. It should have read it’s one of *few* carriers that allow baby to face in (towards your back) while on your back. This is a much safer and comfortable position for you and baby.

  13. says

    My baby days are over, but I truly loved wearing them in the Bjorn back in the day. The warm was not only comforting to the baby, but for me as well. I loved having that chance to snuggle and smell their precious hair and still be hands free!

  14. says

    Seriously, 25 years ago they didn’t have wraps and slings like this for my baby. I had one choice, but gladly used it. Glad there are so many choices so you can get what works for you and your little one.

  15. says

    We tried three different types of carriers and not one worked for us! Two was given to us and one we had purchased so thankfully not much money was invested. I think that you have to find what works for you first before purchasing. Also what works for one mom may not work for another mom. I enjoy carrying my baby and toddler in my arms. It does create a strong bond!

  16. says

    I didn’t know there was a right or wrong way to wear a baby as I’ve seen parents wearing them in so many different ways. I got my sister-in-law one of the wraps where it is one long cloth that you can wrap around you in different ways to carry them. She LOVED it ! :)

  17. says

    I wore my first baby at home more than my second but mostly because she was a needy baby and needed to be held more. I always put them in a carrier when ever we went to the grocery store! It always kept people from touching them!

  18. says

    Baby wearing is fairly common in Africa and one thing I learned form my aunts and moms was to always make sure the baby’s neck is protected. they are a terrific way to have your hands free too.

  19. says

    I have a Moby and can’t figure out how to wear it that would make my little one happy and comfy. He LOVES being held, so I think a carrier of some sort would work wonders for him.

  20. says

    What a great post. I wish I would have tried to use one of the baby carriers more with my children. I think they have better products now than when I had mine.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>