This is a story of a typical women who is expecting a child- Abundant sleep (yes as per the concept of relativity), eating whatever and whenever she desires, lots and lots of shopping, catching up with friends, movies, maternity shoots, super supportive family members…… and then the day arrives when the much awaited baby pops out!! A moment of joy- absolutely! But what happens to the mother? Lack of rest, lack of sleep, constant pressure of ‘feeding right – feeding enough’, recovering physically, too many things to sort out which none of the pre natal classes taught her! And this is the phase when babywearing could become the best friend of the mother/ primary caregivers! Lets learn more how-
What is babywearing?
Babywearing (BW) is keeping the baby close you, with the help of the modern BW carriers. Here you will come across two terms- ergonomic carriers/ non ergonomic carriers. Ergonomic carriers are those, which support the natural posture of the baby- it mimics the way baby is seated when help in hand (here the knees are slightly higher than the bum forming a M shape). The non ergonomic carriers are typically narrow based carriers that do not provide a knee to knee fabric coverage thus not forming the ‘M’ shape.
So what are the important aspects to keep in mind when it comes to posture (Commonly known as TICKS):
Tight: The baby needs to be hugging you securely without slouching and without having any loose fabric/ slack
In view all the times: You should be able to see the baby simply by glancing down. This is also important especially for new borns to quickly pick up their cues
Close enough to kiss: This point focuses mainly on the height. You should be able to kiss the baby comfortably when worn. So when you start with Step one of getting the carrier on you before placing the baby, always judge based on this point- is this height ok? Will the baby be close enough to kiss?
Keep chin off chest: To put it in simple words- the baby’s airways should be clear and the baby should be able to breathe normally
Supported back: The baby when worn in an upright position should be sitting comfortably in its natural posture where the babys tummy and chest are touching you
All in all I say use your common sense when you babywear, ensure both of you are comfortable, go by the baby’s cues and you are good to go!
When to start Babywearing?
While it is strongly recommended to know and learn about babywearing before the baby arrives, but, its never too late to start!
Start Early: Meet an educator before you deliver, know what options are available, learn how to wear, make a choice. You can babywear right from day 1!
Starting late: No issues, its never too late to start. Again, know the suitable options, try to attend a babywearing meet, seek help from an educator may be rent and try out the carriers and made a choice.
Benefits of babywearing
No I won’t give a textbook answer here! Ill tell you some practical instances which will give you an idea about how liberating it is when you babywear! And yes this is a non exhaustive list!
- Workout with your baby- BW and go for walks, you get a much needed break and the baby gets some fresh air too! All this as you burn those calories along..
- Feed and burp- Yes no more gluing to that sofa for long hours. All ergonomic carriers support discreet breastfeeding and the upright posture facilitates burping. So here you go- a well fed, satisfied baby with minimal colic issues
- BW helps babies to sleep well and longer too! Woah what more can a mother ask for 😉
- Babies pick up communication skills really fast as they are silently observing you and learning. You would observe a considerable drop in the stranger anxiety too
- No more bulky strollers and juggling luggage, BW is an awesome tool for travels
- Fight that PPD- If you are not confined to one place, you have a satisfied baby, wont you come out of PPD faster?
Where to start – Deciding factors to choose the right baby wear
When you start your babywearing journey, there are two main decisions to make- 1. Type of babywearing carrier 2. Which Babywearing Brand. To drill down to this level you need this basic information handy:
- Baby’s weight
- Number of months
- Milestone reached
- Fabric preference (All Indian brands use cotton/ cotton blends in making the carriers)
Types of BabywearingCarriers
People across the globe have been BW since ages and one can get the references in tribal pictures, north eastern states of India, Jhansi ki Rani even! Modern BW simply translates these into the needs of the parents today! Below are the types of carriers readily available in the BW space:
Wraps are basically long piece of cloth. There are two types in wraps-
Stretchy/ hybrid wraps
These wraps are elastic and work great with new borns. These are great first carriers for any caregivers as they come with lesser of a learning curve. These wraps can be pre-tied, thereby making it all the more easier to get the baby in and out. However, as these come with a stretch, they are not very suitable toddlers. I personally started my BW journey with a stretchy wrap and used it till my kids were 11 months old!
Woven wraps (without stretch)
These are either machine made or handwoven wraps. You get them in variety of sizes (Typically Size 6 is the base size for most of the wearers and is great for trying out variety of carries)
- Distribute weight evenly on the wearer
- Suitable right from new born stage
- Suitable as long as the caregiver and kid are comfortable- no age bar as such (The Stretchy wraps do come with a weight limit and vary from brand to brand)
- Extremely versatile – You can front, hip and back and *front facing out carry in these (It is not recommended to baby carry in the stretchy wraps due to risk of falling)
- Wraps have a greater learning curve
- Currently in India- Soulslings, Cookiie Pie Co, Anmol, Almitra Tattva, Cuddle n Care, Little Wings sell wraps
Meh Dai (MD)
- Meh Dai is a carrier with Chinese origin. These are a mid way between a wrap and a Soft Structured Carrier, where you get a body panel and waist, shoulder straps to tie.
- Distribute weight evenly on the wearer
- Suitable right from new born stage (Check for manufacturer recommendations here however most of the brand’s MD can be used from new born stage)
- Suitable as long as the caregiver and kid are comfortable- no age bar as such
- Extremely versatile – You can front, hip, back and *front facing out carry in these
- MD have a medium learning curve
- Currently in India- Soulslings, Kol Kol, Dulaar, Almitra Tattva and Cuddle n Care sell MD. MD of a few international brands are also available on few online shopping portals like Amazon, Babywearingstuff etc
*Front Facing Out carry: Is recommended for babies between 4-6m only once they have a good head and torso control. The baby should be well supported at the pelvic and should be in a sitting posture. Having said that, the wearer needs to keep a close watch for any signs of over stimulation.
Soft Structured Carriers (SSC)
- These are full buckled carriers where you get a body panel, waist belt and shoulder belts to buckle up and adjust. So basically you need not ‘tie’ anything except for the hood may be!
- Distribute weight evenly on the wearer
- Each brand has a specific minimum weight limit for using the SSC eg few brands have a 5.5 kg min weight, few have 7kg. Few brands also offer infant inserts/ have specific design to wear babies from new born stage. However, I wouldn’t list SSC as a best fit carrier for a new born.
- Typically standard size SSC are suitable till 18/20 kg and from an experience point of view fit a child till 2/2.5 yrs of age comfortably. Few brands also make Toddler/ Pre-schooler SSC for kids above 12 kg crossing height of ~85 cm
- SSC can be used for front and back carry. Few brands also offer a hip carry and front facing out option
- SSC have a lowest learning curve
- Currently in India- Soulslings, Kol Kol, Anmol, Cookiie Pie Co, EasyFeel and Klingaru sell SSC that are safety tested and go through rigorous testing process. Brands like Cuddle n Care sell ergonomic yet not safety tested SSCs in India. SSCs of few international brands like Boba, Tula, Lenny Lamb are also available on online shopping portals like Amazon, Hopscotch, Babywearingstuff etc
- Important decision making aspects to consider: Baby’s weight, milestones, fabric you prefer, whether you want to opt for a tested/ untested carrier, budget, brand preference if any.
Ring Slings (RS)
- This the most compact carriers which comprise of two safety tested rings and a cloth. Also the easiest to nurse in!
- Do not distribute weight evenly on the wearer- hence good for shorter spans
- Suitable right from new born stage. Best for babywearing newborns.
- Suitable till 15 kg
- Used for cradle hold for new borns, front, hip carry and *front facing out carry, (Back carry is possible but comes with a lot of practice)
- RS have a medium learning curve
- Currently in India- Soulslings, Kol Kol, Almitra Tattva, Maaeri Cookiie, EasyFeel, LittleWings, Anmol, Cuddle n Care and few more brands sell RS. RS of international brands like Lenny Lamb are also available on few online shopping portals like Babywearingstuff etc
Recommended Read: Ring Sling Tutorial – How to wear your baby in a ring sling
- This carrier has a Japanese origin. This is a carrier famous for its high back carries. These are similar to SSC but come without a waist belt. These come in a variety of styles using rings, straps, buckles and fabric loops
- The weight is mainly distributed on the wearer’s shoulders and upper body- hence good for shorter spans
- Typically suited for toddlers (Check manufacturers weight recommendations)
- Suitable as long as the wearer and the child are comfortable
- Used mainly for back carriers, one can also front carry
- These come with a medium learning curve
- Currently in India- Soulslings sell safety tested buckled Onbuhimos, Cuddle n Care sells ergonomic yet not safety tested buckled Onbuhimos. Onbuhimos of few international brands Fidella are also available on few online shopping portals like Babywearingstuff etc
The reference in the above sections to ‘safety testing’ refers to the ASTM testing that happens in the US. To put it in brief, these tests cover various aspects like bearing static and dynamic weight, durability and structural integrity of buckles and snaps, fabric testing, leg openings are checked to test falling hazard etc. Currently in India there is no regulation that mandates manufacturers to undergo safety testing to sell their carriers in India, however in the interest of safety and comfort of the baby, it is highly recommended to buy safety tested carriers only.
Also, as a recommendation, would strongly recommend caregivers to buy carriers from the Indian makers of ergonomic carriers. The Indian brands make lovely carriers using fabrics suitable for Indian weather, with pretty designs and prompt customer care, also it’s a great way to support their hard work- a piece of interesting information- All these beautiful Indian brands emerged from the vision of such mothers who took a step forward to translate their passion and love for babywearing into making these modern ergonomic carriers to suit the need of today’s Indian caregivers!
The Babywearing Myth Buster
If you/ the people close to you and the baby have not come across this concept of BW, its very natural for you to have lot of questions (out of fear!).. Yes yes I hear you ☺ So this will surely bring a smile onto your face and help you kickstart your BW journey sooner-
- “Babies become clingy if you wear them for long”: No babies don’t become clingy because of BW! Whether you opt to BW or not, babies need love and care, touch a feeling of security and familiarity till the age of 2 in general. So please don’t blame BW if you kid wants to be held.. Infact studies have derived babies that are worn for longer periods become independent pretty early (Yes and I can tell you this out of my own experience!)
- “BW will delay child’s milestones”: BW does not in any way hamper the milestones of a baby.
- “BW is tying a baby and restricting the baby’s movements”: BW is not ‘tying a baby’. Babies sit in there comfortably and happily. Parents need to simply follow the cues- set the baby free when it wants to, keep the baby close when the baby wants to be held- simple!
A brief about Snugbub
Snugbub was formed in March 2016 totally out of my love and passion for babywearing. Being a mother of twins, one being ELBW at 1.1 kg, we knew the road uphill is going to be rocky. But BW helped us sail through smoothly, which not just made it possible to take care of our kids in a nuclear set up but also let us pursue our passion and enjoy life as a family. I quit my job and decided to dedicate my time and efforts in the babywearing space, to spread awareness and provide a helping hand to as many as possible.
At Snugbub, we provide home visits where parents can try out carriers in their own comfort zone (primarily in Bangalore, also in Pune and Kolhapur at times), help them choose the right carrier, run a multibrand carrier library where we rent carriers across India, help parents from other cities over audio/ video calls and conduct monthly free babywearing activities.