As millions of people around the globe tuned into the Rio Olympics, they likely saw Nicole Johnson wearing baby Boomer in a carrier. She sported a red Tula baby carrier emblazoned with white stars and embroidered in blue with Michael Phelps’ signature logo.
The baby looked comfy cuddled up with his mother and her arms were free to cheer her fiancé, Michael Phelps, on to victory in the pool. These images were displayed on the television and posted online and in magazines, strengthening the already strong babywearing trend.
Expectant or new moms who saw Nicole Johnson wearing Boomer may have thought that it looks comfy and cozy to wear a baby. However, while there are some benefits to babywearing, there are many dangers associated with it as well.
While new mamas may have the urge to run out and purchase a baby carrier, and expectant moms may rush to put one on their registries after watching Ms Johnson and little Boomer Phelps, resisting the urge before adding this baby accessory to the repertoire and spend some time learning about the dangers of babywearing
The following information will help all mamas make an informed decision about babywearing before they decide to start sporting their babies on their chests or backs, like little Baby Boomer.
It may be hard to believe, but one of the biggest dangers of babywearing is that a small infant who can’t yet lift their head can suffocate while being worn. In fact, a few children have done so, which led to certain carriers being recalled. Scary, but true.
Parents who do decide to wear their babies need to know that it is important to wear them in an upright or vertical position, unless the baby is nursing. This helps to keep the airway open, which makes breathing easier.
It is also important to routinely check on the child to ensure his chin is not resting on his chest, which can obstruct the baby’s ability to breath. Don’t just plop the baby in the carrier and assume that everything will be fine. Making sure the baby is always in the optimal position and is safely breathing is crucial for safe babywearing.
Hip dysplasia is a developmental or genetic condition that causes abnormal formation at the hip joint. This means that a carrier will not cause hip dysplasia, as some assume. A baby either has it or does not have it. However, many parents of newborns or infants do not yet realize that their child has this condition, as it typically is not apparent until the child is several months old.
Wearing a child in a carrier that does not fully support the hip area can accelerate this condition, causing significant problems as the child grows. The worst cases may require the child to have to have a hip replacement. Because parents do not know if their child has this condition or not, and likely will not know until they are a bit older, they may want to avoid babywearing.
Or at the very least, using carriers that cause the legs to dangle. Avoiding the use of a baby carrier will ensure the baby is not subjected to accelerated hip dysplasia, if they have this condition.
Another danger associated with babywearing is knee problems.
When selecting a carrier, look for one that places the baby in a squatted position. This position is sometimes called a frog position because it resembles the back legs of a frog. The baby’s legs should be spread apart, with the knees slightly higher than their bottom, while sitting in the carrier. This frog position helps balance out the baby’s weight and requires the carrier, and the wearer, to support most of their weight.
The reason the frog position is the best position in a baby carrier? - Because knee problems can develop if the baby’s legs dangle. An ergonomic carrier will provide the best support for the child; but these carriers still have a risk of harming your child’s knees if they are not fitted properly, or the child doesn’t sit comfortably in them.
Unfortunately, many people do not position their child correctly in these carriers, which often results in issues with the knees.
When a baby is worn for a prolonged period of time, the amount of blood that goes to her legs can actually be limited. Why? - Because blood cannot flow properly to the legs.
Limited blood flow is more likely to happen if the child’s knees are not bent and the legs are dangling, but it can happen even if the baby is in the right position. Think about those pins and needles that are experienced after holding your legs in the same position for a long period of time. That is exactly what happens to a child when the legs are in the same position for a prolonged period of time in a baby carrier.
While this danger isn’t extremely concerning, it can cause discomfort for the baby that is completely avoidable. The result could be a baby that cries a lot, or who has difficulty moving about after being in a carrier for a long period of time.
When a baby is held in the arms, the person hold the little one is careful not to drop the baby. However, one of the biggest dangers is that the carrier can break and the infant will go tumbling down to the ground. As a result, the baby could sustain injuries, including sprains, broken bones and traumatic head injuries.
There are a number of reasons why a baby carrier may break: stitching can come out, fabrics can rip, knots can come undone, or the straps can break. Buying a quality carrier can help minimize this risk, as can buying one that supports the full weight of the child, as well as replacing the carrier as the child’s weight exceeds the weight requirements.
Checking the carrier for signs of wear or damage before wearing a baby is highly recommended if parents do decide to wear their baby, but keep in mind that not all carriers show signs of damage before the unthinkable occurs.
Speaking of holding your infants in arms… When a newborn is held, the neck is cradled in the arms to provide proper neck support, which they need because the muscles in their necks have not fully developed. If the head is not properly supported, the head could flop over, which could lead to some serious problems with the neck, such as strains.
Many baby carriers do not have the level of neck support that is needed to support a new baby, and unfortunately, many new mothers do not realize this. They think they are doing what they feel is best by keeping their child near them.
If a mother does decide to wear her baby, she should try waiting until her child has developed enough neck strength to hold her head up on her own. Alternatively, she could use a carrier that does provide some type of neck support for the little bean.
Wearing a baby causes the development of excess heat. The baby’s skin is in contact with the skin of the person who is wearing him, which creates added heat. This may not be a bad thing when it’s cold out.
On the other hand, when the temperatures are high, this can pose definite problems, especially when the baby’s skin is exposed to perfumes on the wearer’s skin, or the detergents the wearer’s clothing has been washed in.
Exposure to perfumes, dyes and chemicals can cause a baby’s skin to break out into a rash. Also, if a baby is worn in the heat and has skin-to-skin contact, heat rash can develop. Any type of rash can be uncomfortable for a baby’s sensitive skin.
Sprinkling some powder on both the baby and the skin of the wearer can avoid the development of rashes that occur as a result of skin-to-skin contact.
In the grand scheme of things, a rash is not the most dangerous thing in the world for a baby, and odds are, a baby will get many rashes during his life, but no parent wants to do anything that will cause discomfort for their baby.
Babies under the age of six months do not have the ability to regulate their body temperature. As a result, simply being outside in the heat can cause a baby to get hot faster than the rest of us. Exposure to hot temperatures can be dangerous to a baby in and of itself, but when babywearing is added into the mix, an even more dangerous situation can result.
When it is hot outside and a baby is placed in a cloth carrier that covers them much like a blanket would, and then their little body is pressed up against someone else’s, the little one’s body temperature will likely skyrocket. Unfortunately, this can cause a baby quickly overheat. In the worst case scenario, the baby can suffer a heat stroke when held in a baby carrier for too long.
To avoid the dangers of overheating, never wear a baby when it’s hot outside.
The baby isn’t the only one who could be subjected to dangers when worn, the person wearing the baby may also experience some dangers, too.
One of the dangers of babywearing is loss of balance for the person wearing the baby. Most women are a bit clumsier in their last trimester of pregnancy because their center of balance is off, thanks to that big baby bump. The same thing happens when wearing a baby. The weight the person’s body is carrying has changed and his or her center of gravity can be impacted.
When the center of balance is disrupted, the person wearing a baby may have an increased chance of tripping, slipping or falling. Not only can this cause problems for the wearer, but it can also pose a serious danger for the baby.
Another issue that the person wearing a baby can experience is back pain.
Remember during pregnancy, when back pain set in? That pain was caused by the extra weight that was being carried around the midsection, and the muscles in the back can be strained to support the weight, which can be a real pain in the… back.
The same is true while wearing a baby. Carrying extra weight on your front or back can strain the muscles in the back, which can lead to some pretty serious pain.
If a parent does decide to wear a baby, slowly easing into babywearing can reduce the development of back pain. Think about it like exercising: When someone hasn’t ran or lifted weights in a while and jumps right back into a mile-long run, or lifting heavy weights, the result can be strained muscles and serious pain.
Just like exercising, wearing a baby for hours when the muscles haven’t been worked in can cause pain and soreness in the back. The muscles that experience the most strain when a baby is worn.
Babywearing does not only put a strain on the wearer’s back, it can strain the baby’s back, as well. This strain is not only uncomfortable for a baby, but it can permanently affect the little one’s spine.
A baby is more likely to arch or hunch her back if she is forward facing in a carrier, rather than facing the wearer. However, both forward and rear facing carriers can put some degree of strain on a child’s. If a parent does decide to wear a baby carrier, he or she should always ensure the baby’s spine is straight in the carrier.
If the baby is arching her back or is leaning forward or backward, the carrier is not supporting her weight and is putting unnecessary strain on the baby’s back.
Either try repositioning the carrier so that it better supports the baby, or look for one that does not put strain on the child.
Another danger associated with babywearing is that each and every carrier out there is different. There are so many styles of carriers that available, which may sound like a good thing – Who doesn’t love having a lot of choices? However, too many options isn’t always a good thing.
Because there are so many different carriers, and each carrier needs to be worn differently to properly support the baby, many babywearers end up picking a carrier that doesn’t offer the proper support – for the baby or for the wearer.
When shopping for a baby carrier, fully reading and understanding the instructions before using it is crucial for successful wearing. Try the carrier out before wearing it for extended periods of time. Ask an expert for advice, if needed. There is no such thing as being too safe, and understanding how to properly use the carrier you purchase – whatever type it may be – is crucial to the comfort and safety of the baby – and the wearer.
Another danger associated with babywearing is that there really is a learning curve to getting it right.
All too often, parents use their babies as “test dummies” when trying to figure out how to use or wear the carrier they have purchased. This should be avoided at all costs. Sure, parents want to try the carrier out with their baby; however, the baby should never be placed in the carrier until the wearer is completely proficient in using the tool.
Though it doesn’t need to be said, a baby is not a “test dummy.” Using the carrier before understanding how it works could lead to serious issues, such as dropping the baby, or having him slip through the carrier.
There is a learning curve when figuring out how to tie, adjust or position a carrier on your body. Before you place your baby in the carrier, use a baby doll! Though the doll will certainly be more still and less heavy than the actual baby, it will give the wearer a better understanding of how to use the carrier.
Most baby carriers recommend wearing the baby so that his belly is touching the wearer’s belly. In this position, the wearer can easily look down to see the child’s face, ensuring that he is breathing properly and that he is in the correct position. Though this is the safest position, it does lead to a limited view for the little one. Instead of seeing the world around him, he is looking at your shirt, or directly into your face, which really doesn’t offer much sensory stimulation. When holding a baby, he has the opportunity to see more of his surroundings, which is vital for proper development.
While some baby carriers do offer the option of positioning the baby so he is forward facing, this can increase the chance of straining the child’s back and/or neck. Additionally, it’s hard to position the legs properly in a forward facing carrier, which can cut off circulation or increase the risk of accelerated hip dysplasia.
Lastly, one of the biggest dangers of babywearing is that most people don’t really know how to use them correctly.
There are many benefits associated with wearing a child, and there are a lot of scientific studies that conclude wearing a child is beneficial; however, these benefits are only worth the potential risks if the carrier is properly worn and the child is properly positioned.
Unfortunately, many people who use a baby carrier don’t know how to use it properly. Many magazines, celebrities on social media, and even print ads for the carriers themselves show people using the carriers incorrectly, or with the child in the wrong position! Now, that’s a surefire sign that this is a problem!
Not knowing how to use a baby carrier properly can create some seriously dangerous situations. This creates a dangerous situation. The carrier can fall off; the baby can slip out; the baby may be more prone to developing the previously mentioned issues, and the same is true for the wearer.