What are the advantages and what are the guidelines for using a baby carrier to wear an infant?
Babywearing is exactly what it sounds like: keeping a baby attached to your body by means of some kind of support. Over the past years, it has become increasingly popular: a growing number of parents are opting for this means of transportation to strengthen the bond between parent and child. Those who want to start babywearing should know what advantages this approach offers, learn the proper technique and understand what types of supports offer the full benefits of the practice.
The benefits of Babywearing can be subdivided into two broad categories: physical and emotional.
Strengthening the bond between parent and child and, especially for fathers, encouraging physical contact with the infant right from the start.
Encouraging bonding, creating a sense of warmth and safety and thereby setting solid foundations for the child's psychological growth.
Calming the child, which helps them cry less, since contact inhibits the production of cortisol, the stress hormone.
Fostering communication and vocal interaction with parents
Reduces the risk of plagiocephaly.
Encourages the proper development of the hip joint, preventing hip dysplasia.
To carry infants properly, we need to follow some guidelines developed by the experts. The child must be carried as though we were holding them in our arms: their bottom should remain above the carrier's centre of gravity (the bellybutton) with the baby's knees higher up than their legs, their head should be at ‘kissing height’ and their body must rest snugly against the body of their mummy or daddy. The legs should never be forced, they should remain in their natural position: frog-like over the early months, then more open so they form a right angle with the pelvis. For this reason, the baby's legs should always be supported from knee to knee, or more precisely from popliteal fossa to popliteal fossa. The baby's back should also maintain physiological kyphosis, commonly referred to as a ‘C position’, since the intervertebral joints have not completely formed yet. The same is true of the head and neck: they need to receive support all the way up to the ear, including side support to avoid uncontrolled movement of the head and neck. Finally, let's not forget that the comfort of the wearer is also important for babywearing to be successful.
Given how extremely important it is for the baby to be given proper support at various levels, selecting the right baby carrier is also a significant decision. An elasticised support belt may be the right product for a newborn but it may prove complicated and impractical to wear for those with limited experience; furthermore, it will need to be replaced as the baby grows. It is crucial for any support to be extremely adjustable in every respect so that it fits the baby's age and adapts as the baby grows: the width and height of the panel, from the seating area to the neck area, need to have a system that makes them adjustable. If using a baby carrier, it's best to use a completely adjustable model, like the Chicco EasyFit, which can be used right from the start with infants and also, over the subsequent months, as the child grows. In addition, the support must be adjustable to fit the parent as well, to guarantee optimal weight distribution and therefore comfort: the waistband, armhole, shoulder straps and height of the support must be adjustable to fit the body shape of the carrier.
Especially for new parents who are less accustomed to babies and baby carriers, we recommend selecting a product that is safe and easy to wear, with clearly visible drawstrings and buckles that make it easy to adjust. Select a good quality fabric and make sure the babywearing support belt or baby carrier is compliant with applicable laws to ensure safety.