Baby carrying or baby wearing may be new to some of us, but it certainly isn't a new practice, because it has been done traditionally all over the world. For many years, in fact centuries, moms wore their children and the same is still being done across the world today. Baby wearing is, as mamanaturals.com puts it simply, carrying the baby in a carrier attached to the parent, and today, more and more parents prefer to wear their babies.
There are many benefits to baby wearing, as there are disadvantages, but the main thing about this practice is not just convenience, but the strong relationship and bond between child and parent. Whether mom is out in the town, or at home with the baby, a baby carrier or sling, or even a wrap - if mom knows how to do it - is much better than the hassles that come with using a pushchair or buggy. It particularly comes in handy if the baby won't nap or just doesn't like being put down, because baby gets to be soothed by mom minus the strain on her back which comes from holding baby for long periods of time. As always, everything has its benefits and challenges, and so does baby carrying. Here are 20 of its pros and cons.
20 Pro: It Saves Big Bucks And Has Cool Designs
A BBC report said that more and more first time parents are choosing to carry their babies in a baby sling, baby wrap or carrier, instead of a pram or stroller. While strollers can be more comfortable for both parents and baby, the benefits of using the carrier or wrap outweigh the pram, as it creates a stronger bond and there's a lot you can do with baby strapped to your body. Over and above the benefits to the baby-parent relationship, there's the aspect of money.
Slings, wraps and baby carriers are much cheaper than buggies. I mean, its a no-brainer that the financial implications of using a pram or buggy over a sling or wrap, can be heavier, as opposed to using the latter.
Baby wraps are also easy to make from your home, all you need is a strong fabric and to know the wrapping technique and you're good to go. However, for a buggy, its just expensive, in fact, the average costs translate to a huge saving when you go with the sling, or wrap, or baby carrier option. You can also get a wide variety of cute slings or wraps and carriers with different prints, colors, and designs that are really cool and add some swag as you move around with the little one.
19 Pro: Personal Touch Is Everything
Babies are pretty smart at a tender age. They can pick up on a lot of things like whether they're appreciated, loved, desired or unwanted. One of the ways they know best to test mom and dad is by crying, then watching everything their parents do at that moment. Once they start wailing, parents are thrown off balance, and quickly do anything they can to get the child to hush or at least calm down a little. One of the things kids really love is the hugs they get from their parents, and what better way to extend this hug than by carrying baby around and going on a walk, to the store, or just around the home.
They get a sense of affirmation, and the assurance that they truly are loved and accepted, and wanted.
Ergobaby says that the close bond both baby and parent share during this time speaks volumes to the child just by the warm and gentle touch, or even the lack of it. When baby feels that warm touch from either parent, they are less stressed and calm down, because they draw comfort from this. You will notice their reaction when they are placed on the bed, or strollers or bouncy chairs. They'll cry until someone picks them up, because they desire that closeness. As children grow older, they tend to want to play with your nose, touch your face, pull you hair sometimes, or just try to give a big bite on the cheek. They are just trying to communicate their affection or play with you, something nurtured during baby carrying.
18 Pro: No Flat Head Syndrome
Flat head syndrome, also known as plagiocephaly, is defined by Baby Center as a condition that causes baby's head to have a flat spot, or be misshapen. The most common form occurs when baby's head develops the flat spot owing to pressure around that area, and this happens because the baby's skull is so soft and pliable when they're born. Around the '90s, parents were advised to let their babies sleep on their backs to reduce the risk of SIDS, however, experts then noticed an increase of the flat spots or misshapen heads on babies, that was five times more when babies slept on their backs.
Baby carrying helps reduce and/or prevent this, as baby is still able to sleep while enjoying the warmth from the parent, and the gentle touch - anyone would be soothed to sleep with both these conditions remaining constant, right?
Besides, you can still continue with your light tasks while baby is strapped to your body, plus there's less crying. Its actually a win-win situation for baby and the parent, as each gets what they want - time together, and peace of mind in one go. So next time baby starts wailing and you need to get some things done around the home, strap him on your back and hum a tune or two, and watch the magic happen.
17 Pro: Its A Great Way To Get Your Pre-Baby Style Back
So you just got a beautiful new baby, and life just seems to be a breeze - except for that post baby jelly belly that you're dying to get rid of. Most times when baby comes anyway, you hardly get some time to just do a few aerobic workouts or even remember the pre-baby regime, which sometimes isn't necessarily ideal for you after giving birth. Either way, you can still ditch that mushy middle through common ways such as breastfeeding, cardio, and tummy crunches. Some moms just wait it out too, but did you know that baby carrying can actually help contribute to getting your looks back? Apparently, as Wrapsodybaby reveals, there are so many things demanding your attention, from the baby, to the house chores, and even the media from the many ads on television or the internet enticing you to a fitness routine that you barely have time for. Worry not, because baby carrying is beneficial in more ways than just bonding with baby and being able to do other things around the home. You can actually get your pre-baby body back even with baby strapped onto you.
What's more, if you have a workout regime, you can do some exercises while carrying your little one, as long as he is safe, and both of you are comfortable. You actually get the best of both worlds!
16 Pro: Anytime Is Feeding Time
For the first six or so months, new born babies are exclusively fed on their mothers' milk, because it has all the nutrients they need to grow and develop, before they start being weaned and get to try new tastes and foods as well as water and other liquids. Naturally, then, babies will always want to feed, especially when there's a growth spurt, and they start demanding for even more milk from mom. It can get frustrating though, when mom doesn't have enough milk to get by, but what's worse is when they are in mom's arms somewhere out there, and they cannot have their favorite milk.
Some moms may not get the right spot to sit and feed their babies, but baby carrying can really come in handy because it is not just convenient and time saving, but also allows baby to feed as you walk around with him.
According to theboobgeek.com, baby carriers don't need as much preparation to breastfeed the baby. The mother simply positions the infant in a comfortable position, and gives baby his refreshing milk as they move together. Moms can choose to cover their babies as they breastfeed by using a nursing cover or shawl for privacy.
15 Pro: Baby Gets To Stretch And Develop Physically
Dr. Tim Schrader, an orthopedic surgeon and one of 34 doctors at Children's Healthcare of Atlanta, says that while baby is in the womb, before delivery, it is curled into a fetal position. During this time, the baby's spine sits in a ‘C’ shape, and its legs are tucked up tight into its body. After the baby is born, he or she will work to stretch out these muscles and joints, which can take several months.
One of the delicate parts at this time, is the baby’s hip socket, which if stretched too early, can get deformed - a condition known as hip dysplasia. A baby’s hip joints can also slip altogether, what is known as hip dislocation, if they’re stretched too soon.
Both of these conditions may not become apparent until your baby begins to walk, and they can potentially lead to arthritis into adulthood. Dr. Schrader adds that laying baby flat exerts an unhealthy amount of pressure on the baby's developing spine, stretching the ‘C’ shape in an unnatural way. Moms are thus advised to try and reduce the amount of time their babies lie flat to a minimum to help protect baby's spine, as it develops its normal ‘S’ shape. Baby carrying is one of the safest ways moms can help this process develop gradually and as it should, by positioning the baby in the carrier facing them. Moms should also check that baby’s airways aren't blocked while in the carrier.
14 Pro: Supermoms Get Everything Done
Every mom knows that the best ways to get stuff done around the home with a baby around is either putting baby to sleep, or strapping him on your body and move around the house, or even around the town to kill two birds with one stone. On one hand, the baby is super happy to be around mom continuously, knowing the only time they'll be separated is if she unstraps him from the carrier and puts him down. On the other hand, mom knows all too well that this is a great way to bond with baby, while still catching up with some chores around the house or go shopping at the grocery store and pick up a few things with baby in her arms. The benefits of baby carrying actually outweigh its challenges, and according to everydayfamily.com, it is so much easier to just strap baby into a sling, onto your body, and run errands, compared to using a stroller.
Baby carrying lets you handle tasks such as managing the other children (if any) around the home, mow the lawn, or even soothe the baby to sleep during those moments they just don't want to.
Somehow that walking around while carrying the baby has a soothing effect that knocks out any child in no time.
13 Pro: Time To Bond And Goof Around
Awww, this mom and her little girl make baby carrying look like the coolest thing on the planet! When a baby is held close in a woven wrap, a ring sling, or a baby carrier they are often able to let a parent know when they're hungry, bored, or wet without having to cry. According to artipoppe.com, the positive interaction between mom and baby increases learning and enhances their attachment. In essence, baby carrying allows parents and babies to constantly shape one another’s behaviors - the photo clearly shows this.
This bonding experience stems from the fact that in the process, parents can help their loved one overcome fears, which helps improve mutual trust and is one of the longest-lasting benefits.
While there are a variety of child-rearing theories, attachment researchers all agree on one thing: for a baby’s emotional, intellectual, and physiological systems to function optimally, the continued presence of the mother, which comes with baby carrying, is a necessary regulatory influence. It is also really helpful as you integrate baby into your daily routine in life, plus you two can interact throughout the day, breastfeed frequently, and still play with an older child and accomplish your own tasks. Besides, it is natural for a baby to be close to mom and they're generally at their happiest when being held.
12 Pro: You Can Still Slay (And Give Others #ParentingGoals)
Who better to display swag when carrying his baby than John Legend! He and his model wife, Chrissy Teigen, traveled to Bali with their baby Luna, and you can tell from this photo that they had a pleasant family break amidst everything that's been happening in their fast lives. Hello Magazine reported that the American singer and songwriter and his beautiful family stayed at a residential health retreat, where they went swimming, practiced yoga, and even tried on traditional Balinese ceremonial costumes.
John Legend and baby Luna look dope in this daddy-daughter pic, which he posted on Instagram, looking all confident with the full daddy swag - too cute!
Apparently, says artipoppe.com, baby carrying gives parents a great feeling of calmness and confidence, when baby is also relaxed and content knowing that all his needs are met. Parents feel more competent, plus they can sense when baby is growing restless or hungry and can fix the situation before the baby’s complaints become disturbing and upsetting. The more confidence parents have, the more they can relax and enjoy their children. The parents therefore have the advantage of getting to know what affects their infants beforehand and find ways to cope with such situations. There is no better feeling for a parent than having confidence in the way his/her child’s growth.
11 Pro: Teach Baby New Tricks
Goodbye gugu gaga, hello proper language! As much as baby carrying has its strong benefits, none compares to what the baby gets out of it like learning new stuff and values from mom and dad as they move around together. Babies love to be held close, there's no doubt about that, but they crave communication with their parents and this is both verbal and non-verbal. This goes for every other human being really, so when you have the time and energy to carry baby around, remember to share a few words here and there, and talk in your language - not theirs. This is one of the best ways for babies to develop and learn how to talk too. The Orchid Practice says in an article about baby wearing and communication that while baby is being carried either in arms or worn in a sling, they are elevated to the level of the adult’s face and even when worn on the adult’s back they are in close proximity meaning they can see what the adult sees.
This establishes the opportunity for developing joint attention meaning that since the baby and adult can see the same things, they can engage in a joint activity more easily.
It is also much easier for the adult to notice and respond to baby's cues and generally respond to the needs being communicated, whether through crying or facial expressions and noises. Having baby and adult face to face also means there are so many opportunities to engage in eye contact, and baby is able to see facial expressions given by the adult thus spends lots of time learning.
10 Con: Carrying Baby Under The Scorching Heat Is Draining
Would you carry a baby around with you in the Summer? Well, that's just one of the most challenging moments, because of the hot weather, during which most people prefer to wear the lightest clothing possible and not carry too many things.
Even more is the heat that both baby and you are emitting from your bodies, and that combined with the scorching sun, is bound to make baby carrying the most uncomfortable experience for both of you - you end up one hot, sticky mess, sweat and all.
What's worse, it can ruin the peace and calm you've been enjoying with baby as heat kinda makes them cranky and grouchy, as it does everyone else, but they just can't take it and resort to crying as the only way of alerting you they're not happy. Worry not though, because there are simple ways you can use to ensure both you and baby stay cool and enjoy your moment together. Wholovesbabies suggests that you can go for a more lightweight and cool carrier, with soft padding and shoulder straps that still are ergonomical enough for weight distribution and support. You could also go for a wrap as these are highly flexible and versatile and can be worn in multiple ways, plus they're inexpensive. However, their learning curve is quite steep so if you're not familiar with it, you'll be frustrated. Lightweight and airy wraps are great in hot weather. Ring slings are great too for the Summer as they're cooler and more breathable. Otherwise a sunhat and light dressing for both of you plus intervals in the shade or using an umbrella where possible, will come in handy.
9 Con: Can Be A Little Tricky To Master
While there are baby carriers that are simple and user friendly for anyone to use, including first time moms and dads, not all of them are straightforward.
Sure, a ring sling, and a very basic or structured carrier can be easy to strap on, but a baby wrap can be tricky, especially if you have no idea where to start or how to do the wrapping as you can end up dropping the baby.
So lets just leave the wrapping to those who get it, for now. However, baby carrying or baby wearing, isn't something everyone who tries it the first time will eventually master. Its not just about sliding the little one into the carrier, and attaching him to your body. There's the aspect of comfort for both of you, and knowing baby needs to be extra comfy for his physical development will help you see the sheer urgency of the matter. According to easybabylife.com, the safety of the baby is the first thing you need to consider when using a carrier or sling, so check that baby is securely held and cannot wriggle free. Something else that needs mastering is attachment parenting, especially for parents who are used to busy schedules and need to learn this new way of bonding with baby.
8 Con: One's Company, Two Is A Crowd
Carrying one baby around in a sling or wrap, or a baby carrier, is one thing, but would you carry another one? And just how would you do it, considering you may want to get some things done around the home, or better yet, run a few errands and you have to carry the kids along? Well, this is where the buggy comes in handy, though its challenges still remain, but the sheer weight of carrying two babies, on your own back, and on the carrier itself, is heavy. Lindsey, a psychiatric nurse, writes in an article on this issue, saying that:
"a sling is great if you have one baby, but what about multiple babies, or babies born soon after each other. Well, there are slings available for carrying twins, and certain wraps can be tied so they will hold twins. This can however be detrimental to the mother's physical health."
You can choose to carry both your children along on a carrier or sling, and go back home tired as hell, or you could get a pram, especially a twin pram that can carry both, and give you and the kids comfort, without compromising on your quality time.
7 Con: Well, At Least It Holds
Like I said, slings, wraps and baby carriers aren't for everyone.
In fact, while ring slings and baby carriers are almost straightforward, wraps are not, and they have a steep learning curve because there's a whole process to wrapping a baby around and still ensure they're comfortable and safe as they would be on a structured carrier.
Similarly, choosing a sling, wrap and carrier can be such a daunting task especially for a beginner, but baby wearing forums exist for this reason - to give you recommendations and find a local sling-meet where you can get the chance to try out the variety of sling and baby carrier options available. Such forums even have tutorials from which you can learn so much, not just about the carriers, but also the good and bad about baby carrying. New moms and dads just need a little practice here and there, and as naturalfamilytoday.com reports, going on sling-meets are great ways to get used to using these carriers plus get some help from experienced folks. It may be a little tricky to master in the initial stages, but eventually, you'll be a pro at it. So go on and try it out today, your baby will thank you later.
6 Con: Oops, I Missed A Step
Okay, so you got the best baby carrier, or you wrapped the baby firmly onto yourself, and you are 100 percent sure nothing under the sun will cause the baby to slip out of the sling or move out of the comfortable position. While this is great, nothing prepares you well enough for the eventualities out there, sometimes even in your own home, that could pose a greater risk than just having your baby attached to your body.
In fact, baby carrying is riskier than carrying them in a pram, according to Kidspot, as you can either fall, slip, or something can get caught on the baby's leg or head.
If you do slip or fall, ensure you keep your hands free, but baby's safety is always paramount, as is your own. If you feel light headed or tired, take a break, or just don't use the carrier or sling until you feel steady enough or stronger to do it. However stable you are, anything can cause you to trip or fall accidentally, and at that point, there's no running away from it. Consequently, you just have to exercise extreme caution when carrying baby, and ensure you're totally stable wherever you walk or climb, even if you're doing household chores.
5 Con: There Is Nowhere To Securely Put Your Baby Down
Seriously, this is perhaps one of the hardest things to deal with when it comes to baby carrying. First of all, you cannot put the baby down just anywhere, even if you're in a restaurant. I mean, this is a baby, so the highest levels of hygiene, safety and comfort have to be adhered to. Secondly, where do you even place your child?
It's hard enough to place the baby on your lap because you need somewhere you can let baby also lie down and relax for a few, while you also stretch after moving around with the little one.
And depending on how long the baby has been attached to you, there's need to let your own body rest before picking up again and heading home. Sure, there may be a few benches along the streets, but not every street is sparkling clean, quiet, and comfortable for the baby, so they can decide to start crying if only to get out of this strange and annoying environment. There's no place like home, right? This is probably why people prefer a pram over a sling, but then again, if you wanted to carry your baby in your arms, you'd have to drag the pram along wherever you go. Similarly, as melodylauer.com says, in case of a bad occurrence like an attack or something negative that would affect you and your child, its hard to fight back or take your child out of harm's way almost immediately.
4 Con: Not So Great If You Have A Lot Of Shopping To Carry
Baby carriers, wraps and slings were created for parents and their babies, not just for bonding and spending quality time together, but ideally, they help mom and dad have their hands free in the company of their babies, so they can get more done all at the same time. This is why you'll find parents with their babies strapped to their bodies, in a mall or shopping store, pushing their trolleys while baby is enjoying the warmth of the parent, or is probably asleep as mom and dad pick things from the shelves.
However, if either parent is shopping alone with baby, and there's suddenly too much to carry, then it becomes a hassle.
This is because of the weight that's added over and above that of the baby, so you feel bogged down having to carry everything alone. If you had a pram, it would've really helped distribute the excess baggage weight. Slings, as naturalfamilytoday.com describes, are not so great if you have a lot of heavy shopping as the extra weight of shopping bags pulling on your shoulders when you are wearing your baby can put strain on your neck. However, you could use a drag along bag if you plan to go shopping, or go with someone else who can help carry the bags.
3 Con: Not All Babies Like Carriers
Bummer! Just when you thought you're actually helping the child out, then he decides he's not game. While we may never understand the reasons why some kids may not be amused by baby carriers, slings or wraps, it is always good to understand the child. I mean, kids are different - some may like, others just don't feel it at all - so just go with the flow. There are times, however, when you just have to use it, but then you'd have to really explain to the child why it is necessary and they actually understand. Other times you just have to swallow your pride, and let them have their way.
Not all babies enjoy the hands-free cuddles that the carrier or slings bring, some even cry at the sight of one, others wail as you try to slide them into the carrier.
Angela Rogers, an Australian baby wearing promoter, says that one of the reasons some kids just don't like the carrier, wrap or sling is there' something about the carrier, especially the fitting or the size may not be the right one. Momtricks.com also lists other reasons like some kids only liking it when they're tired, others just dislike being 'worn'.
2 Con: You Only Have One Back, And It's Irreplaceable
As a new or first time parent, one of the baby items you'll find yourself having a strong urge to run out and buy is a baby carrier or sling, but you need to remember your own experience when pregnant, carrying your baby around in your womb for 9 months. It was not easy on your back, right? The same goes for carrying the baby, now even heavier than what he or she was in the womb, on the same back, whether baby is positioned at the front facing you, or at the back.
Your spine is still working overtime to support both you and the baby regardless. Extra strain tends to take a toll on your back causing pain, especially from strained muscles and your spine as they collaborate to support everything.
There are many hidden dangers of baby wearing that you need to know, and this is one of the major ones. If you decide to wear your baby, you need to ease into it slowly so as to reduce development of back pain. Just like exercising and going to the gym to lift weights, if you stayed away for a while and suddenly jump back in, you can get serious pain and strained muscles. These are strained too when the baby is worn.
1 Con: Not All Carriers Are Good For You And Baby
There are baby carriers, and then there are good baby carriers. The best ones are ergonomically designed in such a way that both you and baby get maximum support for your back and hips. This, as described earlier, is to protect baby from getting hip dysplasia. Remember when celebrity dad, Ryan Reynolds posted a pic of him carrying son James on Instagram, during Fathers' Day? Yea, that one that really roused his followers and led to a string of comments about the baby's safety. According to BabyWearing Institute president Beate Frome, the backlash was actually correct, because the baby's feet, as the photo showed, were not supposed to be hanging straight down. “Her legs should be spread apart 90 degrees and 100 degrees up,” Frome told Yahoo Parenting. “Having the legs together is essentially like having baby on a cradle board, which can lead to hip dysplasia. In a straight-leg position like this, the hip is essentially pushed out of the socket.”
So the carrier needs to be flexible, soft and still firm enough to be comfortable for baby such that his knees should be up above his butt, airways are not blocked, and baby's legs aren't dangling in a way that overextends the hip joints.