Baby Wearing

After you've gotten breastfeeding off to a good start, is a great time to learn the skill of carrying your baby in sling. Learning to use a sling or other style carrier is a wonderful way to keep baby close and content while you continue some of your daily activities.

Carrying a baby in a sling is a largely lost art that is being renewed in our culture. Baby wearing, as it has come to be known as, has benefits for both mothers and babies.

  • Promotes bonding
  • Calms baby
  • Promotes communication between parent and child
  • Provides security for baby
  • Facilitates breastfeeding
  • Provides exercise for mother
  • Allows baby to observe family activities
  • Can be used for older babies and toddlers
  • Can be used by any of baby's caregivers
  • It's fun

There are a variety of different baby carrying devices available on the market. The basics are wraps and slings. The simplest in terms of design, these do take a bit of learned skill to use. As is often the case with breastfeeding, this is a skill that most western women have not had the benefit of observing during childhood but with a little patience and persistence it can be learned and you will have a valuable tool for baby care and parenting.

It is likely, that one of the early uses of woven fabric was that of baby carrying. It would have been necessary for a hunter-gatherer baby to be close to his or her mother continually. A hunter-gatherer mother would have to have had a means to keep her baby close while foraging and continuing her daily activities. Hunter-gatherer families would have needed a way to carry babies to ensure their survival and though we no longer live a hunter-gatherer lifestyle we still live active lives that can be improved as a family by learning to use a baby sling or other baby carrier.

Safety

When learning to use a sling, it is important to keep safety guidelines in mind. Use common sense.

Practice using your carrier before using with your baby. Practice with someone's help before using alone with your baby.

Check your sling regularly for wear on the fabric from use.

Make sure your baby has breathing room with nose and mouth free and away from sling fabric.

Baby should NOT be curled up tight with her chin on chest.

Take your baby out of the carrier to put her down to sleep.

Use slings to carry full term babies. Premies and late pre-term babies need to develop more to participate in sling carrying - using a sling for daily activities is different than skin to skin or kangaroo care.

Don't do vigorous activities that cause shaking or bouncing, like jogging or running while carrying your baby in a carrier.

Don't wear your baby while traveling in a car.

Baby wearing is a joy and a responsibility. Use common sense.

A postpartum doula can help you learn the art of baby wearing. After she shares information and encouragement for getting breastfeeding established, a postpartum doula can assist you in learning to carry your baby in a wrap or sling style carrier. Baby wearing is a skill that will allow you greater flexibility of activities while keeping your baby close.

Recommended reading resources.

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Piggy-Back

My daddy rides me piggy-back.

My mama rides me too.

But grama says her poor old back

Has had enough to do.

Langston Hughes


The Baby Carrier Industry Alliance provides brochures with safety guidelines.