I love seeing babies worn! I always get a little smile when I’m walking around town and see a baby in a carrier all cuddled up on mom or dad. I’m proud to be a part of a group of people out spreading the love and teaching parents how to wear. As babywearing becomes more widespread, however, I feel that less people are getting direct instruction and more are learning from each other and some things may get lost along the way. As with anything involving tiny humans we have to be aware of how to do it safely! Don’t worry if it takes a little while to learn, there are always new things to figure out when you have a baby. Remember the first time you tried to buckle them in a high chair or car seat?!
Basic Safety in Any Carrier:
1. Make sure that baby’s face isn’t obstructed in any way. You’ll want to be able to see your baby’s face at all times. This means that no fabric should be covering her face and her head should be visible above the “rim” of the fabric. Any cradle position that has her head tucked in to the pocket is not safe.
2. Wear your baby as you would carry your baby. Would you carry your baby folded in half below your waist? How about under your arm like a purse? Probably not ;). We carry our babies high and near to our faces, usually with their head resting on our shoulder, chest or wrist. These natural carrying positions tend to tilt baby’s head back slightly to keep their airways open.
Remember the babywearing rule of thumb: Visible and Kissable. Wear your baby so you can see them and they are close enough to kiss and you’ll be just fine.
3. Protect your newborn’s airway. You’ll want to always have 2 adult fingers space between their chin and chest. Follow along with me for a minute. Tilt your head down and rest your chin on your chest. Now take 5 deep breaths through your nose. Were you able to? Remember that unless they are crying babies have to breathe through their noses. You actually got a deeper breath than your baby would because your teeth open your jaw, where a new baby doesn’t yet have teeth. I know when I do this I start to feel lightheaded. I’m not able to get enough oxygen and that’s just from a few breaths! This isn’t meant to panic anyone but is definitely something to keep in mind. Always make sure that there is enough space between chin and chest to keep their airway wide open.
4. Wear your baby in the supported squat position. Newborns do not yet have the solid bones and joints of older children and adults. They need a little extra support. We want to have them in carriers in the ways that allow their natural development. Think about sitting on a bench vs sitting in a rock climbing harness. A supported squat allows baby to be more comfortable and provides ergonomic support for their developing hips and spine.
Fun Tip: If you already have a narrow base carrier and want to make it more comfortable for both you and your baby try the scarf trick! Wrap a piece of fabric around your lower back and behind baby’s bottom and under their knees. This can be used to get baby into a more supported position while adding support for your lower back! Also a wonderful way to make your front pack last longer!
It can seem like a lot at first. If you remember the basics: visible and kissable, 2 fingers between chin and chest, knees above bottom you’re doing great. And remember that always your instincts come first, you know what’s right and safe for your baby better than anyone else!