There are a huge number of advantages to baby-wearing (using a baby carrier or sling), a practice which has been used for centuries. The close contact promotes bonding between baby and parent as well as working to sooth or comfort the child. This is particularly important for Dads who perhaps don’t get the same physical bonding time as Mums who are breastfeeding. Similarly, the design allows for a practical hands free approach, letting you get things done whilst being with baby. The carriers are often versatile and can be used in various positions; inward and outward facing as well as putting baby on your back or side. They accommodate for babies of different ages and sizes and there are plenty of different types to choose from.
When purchasing your baby carrier, it is important to do your research and consider variables such as cost, practicality, safety and brand. Begin by asking yourself these questions;
How long a period do you want to be able to carry?
Do you want a smaller baby carrier to help with the first few months with your baby or do you want an adaptable model that has more longevity as your baby grows? This will narrow the search down and direct you towards the right choice.
When do you want to be able to use the baby carrier?
There is a big difference between wanting your baby carrier simply to keep you hands free in the house or do you want to use it as a replacement for a pram when you go out and about? The longer you want your baby to stay in the carrier the more support you will require from the carrier. For example; to keep baby in for longer you will need a baby carrier with a waist belt and a wide-leg position for your child that distributes their weight more evenly for you.
How do you want to be able to carry?
You should consider how you want your baby to be carried; facing inwards or outwards, on your back or your hip. It is recommended that you carry a newborn baby facing in towards you but some baby carriers allow you to carry a larger baby facing outwards on your front.
Addressing these questions will make the process of researching and buying a baby carrier or sling much easier.
There are obvious safety considerations that go into choosing and using the right carrier for you. Follow the manufacturer’s instruction for choosing the correct carrier for the particular size, weight, and age of your baby.
The UK Sling Consortium have recommended the safety checklist TICKS to keep your baby safe
- Tight: carriers should be tight enough to hug your baby close. Any loose fabric will allow your baby to slump down in the carrier, which can hinder their breathing and pull on your back.
- In view at all times: You should always be able to see your baby’s face just by glancing down. The fabric shouldn’t close around your baby so you have to open it to check on them. In a cradle position your baby should face upwards, and not turned in towards your body.
- Close enough to kiss: Your baby’s head should be as close to your chin as is comfortable. By tipping your head forward, you should be able to kiss your baby on the head or forehead.
- Keep chin off the chest: A baby should never be curled so their chin is forced onto their chest as this can restrict their breathing. Make sure there is always a space of at least a finger width under your baby’s chin.
- Supported back: your baby should be comfortably close to you to support their back in its natural position. Their tummy and chest should be against you. Test this by putting your hand on your baby’s back and pressing gently, they should not uncurl or move closer to you.
Whilst there is much discussion about baby carriers causing developmental hip dysplasia (DDH) it is not yet confirmed as to whether any carriers are particularly good or bad for your babies hips. Read more about that issue here; https://www.nct.org.uk/parenting/hip-dysplasia-babies
Recently, Piers Morgan courted controversy by branding men who wore baby carriers as ‘emasculated’. His tweet featuring the hashtag #emasulated007 about the actor Daniel Craig, who was pictured carrying his child in a baby carrier, led to a huge amount of backlash. People disagreed with Morgan and advocated their support for Dads wearing baby carriers. Many felt it was an extremely attractive thing for Dads to wear, that it showed security in their own masculinity, and was representative of an involved and responsible parent. Morgan’s hostility to men carrying their own children speaks to a time of prescribed and restrictive gender roles which have long contributed to unequal parenting duties. The feminisation of childcare is not only damaging but also misguided, especially when many would agree that one of the manliest things a father can do is care for his children.