Tuesday, April 12, 2011

A Muddled Mama's Guide To Babywearing

Monday this Muddled Mama (and her brood) went to a LLLC enrichment meeting, the topic of discussion?  Babywearing... The following is my hand-out to the mama's (some old hands at this babywearing bid.ness and others were total [eager] noobs)
Babywearing Basics
With the recalls (regarding 'bag slings') in 2010, many people are wondering if babywearing is safe. The answer to that is an emphatic yes... if you do so with care, consideration and with safety in mind!
  1. Use your noodle – if you wouldn't do it while holding your baby then don't do it while wearing your baby.  (So, don't climb on a motorcycle and head for the highway... not.a.good.idea.  Also, I wouldn't recommend rock climbing and wearing)
  2. Positionpositioning is of utmost importance (especially with babies 4mos and younger). Make sure babe's back is straight & supported. Babe's face should be pointed slightly up & away from you, with your carrier supporting their head/neck (be very diligent to ensure that they are not curled tightly in a position that places their chin to their chest – this can compress the airway. A good rule of thumb – make sure there is a fingers' width [or two] between babe's chin & chest).
  3. Carry as you would hold – the purpose of babywearing is to allow you to carry your baby/toddler hands-free. The position/hold that you wear your baby in should mimic how you would naturally hold them. You wouldn't hold a newborn like a sack of potatoes against your side, so you don't want your carrier to put them in that position either!
  4. Inspect your carriers – Every.Single.Time you go to wear your little one, quickly inspect your carrier first. Make sure none of the seams are worn and that all straps, etc are snugly attached.
  5. Be aware – with babe attached to you, be aware of your new “shape”. When going through door ways, walking through crowded malls... know where baby is (you don't want to bonk their head on a door or have someone bounce into them), this is especially important when babe is in a back carry.
  6. Choose an age appropriate carrier – What works for a teeny tiny baby may not work for a toddler (and vice versa). The less adjustable a carrier is, the less suited it is for an infant (you don't want them to wiggle themselves down and possibly get wedged in a leg hole).
  7. Practice makes perfect – Test carries out with a doll (or stuffie) first, have a spotter/partner to help if you. Start low to the ground (most carries can be done kneeling on the ground). Check your carry in a mirror and adjust accordingly.  My WGF showed me the beauty of wrapping and the back carry... whilst learning I had her show me.  I then had the hubs wrap me (while I was on all fours) and I graduated to wrapping myself.
  8. Monitor baby – hands-free doesn't mean that you can forget about baby. Make sure the carrier fabric is not over babe's face and check them frequently (too hot, too cold, breathing... you know, the important stuff).
  9. Breastfeeding and wearing – a wonderful bonus to wearing is (nearly) hands-free nursing... just remember to readjust babe's position after they have finished nursing (they need to be back above the breast with their head face free from the carrier fabric).
  10. Vary your positions – do this before you develop a 'favourite side', or it will be harder to get in to the habit (trust me... I know).
  11. Bending over – when bending over (to grab stuff, pick up another child, etc) make sure that you support your worn baby with your arm.
  12. Build up endurance – don't strap your 20lb+ baby to you, take a 2hr hike and expect to feel like roses (you will definitely feel better than if you were holding your 20lb+ baby for your 2hr hike but you will certainly be fatigued). This is best done by wearing babe as young as possible, your endurance will naturally increase as they grow.
  13. Baby & the elements – make sure you still dress baby accordingly. Skin peeking will need sun/wind protection.

Online Resources
The BabyWearer  (this is a members-only forum, so you have to create an account but they have a lot of online information and knowledgeable mothers)

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