Shortly after I started volunteering for my local babywearing library, I also started to hold babywearing talks (mini workshops) at different mums and bubs groups in the region. I love sharing my passion with other new – and not so new – mums, but I’m also aware that lots of mums have been thrown into this whole babywearing thing without or with only very little information.
Besides talking about different styles of carriers and safety guidelines that should be followed, I love to share some tips that I have discovered or learned. Often it is those little tips that are remembered and give new confidence to the mums on their babywearing journey.
Tip 1: Creating a neck roll for a stretchy wrap
Stretchy wraps are the most common carrier for newborn babies. They do have a learning curve, as I explain in my post about Stretchy wraps (link), but once you’ve got the hang of it it’s a very comfortable carrier to use.
Often mums, who use a stretchy wrap, tell me that their baby doesn’t want its head to be tucked into one of the cross straps, especially when baby is awake. But because the fabric is stretchy it doesn’t give a newborn enough head support. This means that the mum feels she needs to keep one hand on babies’ head to support it. This is fine, until you need both your hands to do something.
My tip: Roll up a small, thin muslin wrap into a sausage. Then roll this sausage into the top layer of your stretchy wrap (while baby is in the wrap already) so it forms a neck roll at the base of babies’ head. Make sure the neck roll is not too thick, otherwise it might push babies’ face into you instead of just supporting its head. Always check that babies’ airways are free.
Tip 2: Pre-tying a stretchy wrap at home
Another common issue with stretchy wraps is their length. I can assure you that it is very tricky to tie a stretchy wrap properly while in a wet car park, trying to keep all this fabric out of puddles. Some mums also find it harder to tie the wrap while others are watching and perhaps baby is crying too.
My tip: Pre-tie your stretchy wrap at home. At home you don’t have to worry about puddles, dirt, onlookers or a crying baby (at least not as much as when you’re out and about). Treat your stretchy wrap as an extra layer of clothing. You can even pull the cross straps down your shoulders to give you a bit of extra warmth (if the weather is colder). Then once you are at your destination, simply put baby in the wrap and out of the wrap without untying the wrap.
Tip 3: Crossing the straps of a Soft Structured Carrier (SSC)
Soft Structured Carriers (SSC) or buckle carriers are the most used type of carrier as they are very easy to use and there is not much of a learning curve. However, as baby gets older and heavier those types of carriers often don’t get much use because of back pain. This doesn’t mean that your baby is too heavy to be carried or that your baby has outgrown your carrier. It simply means that carrying your baby on your front with the shoulders straps straight doesn’t distribute your babies’ weight as well as would be best for your back.
My tip: If you own a carrier that can unclip the shoulder straps, then cross the shoulder straps. This will help distribute the weight of your baby more evenly and will help with back pain. Another additional advantage is that there is no longer a need to clip the chest clip (that little clip in the middle of your back which is always hard to reach).
Tip 4: Wearing the waistband higher
Something I often see at my workshops is that babies get carried way too low. This can get uncomfortable for you, but also potentially dangerous for your baby if its little nose gets buried between your soft breasts instead of resting on your harder collarbone.
Those mums tell me that they thought they should place the waistband on their hip bones like they would with a large backpack. This might work for mums with very short torsos or if their baby is quite tall, but often it means that babies’ face ends up too low.
My tip: Start by placing the waistband of your carrier in the middle of your tummy, over your bellybutton or even a little higher if you have a long torso. Then place baby in the carrier and see how high its head comes. If it does feel too high, then you can still carefully wiggle the waistband a little lower until you reach a comfortable and safe position for baby and you. Always check that babies’ airways are free.
Tip 5: Creating a neck roll for a ring sling
Ring slings are great carriers to quickly put baby in and out. They also don’t take up much space, which makes them a good carrier to pack if you may not need a carrier, but just simply can’t leave the house without one. My ring sling got the most use at home, when I didn’t want to take the time to wrap or use the buckle carrier. This also meant that I could put my daughter in and out quickly as she pleased.
However, with younger babies or sleeping babies, I have found it very helpful to have a neck roll for babies’ head support.
My tip: Put your baby in the ring sling as usual. Then take the tail of the sling and roll it into the top rail of the sling at babies’ neck to create a roll. Make sure that the neck roll is not too thick and doesn’t push babies’ nose into your chest. Always check that babies’ airways are free.
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