By Guest Blogger Carrie Bertrand

I recently stood by and watched my fiercely independent firstborn walk into her first day of her kindergarten year. I feel so fortunate to have found Triad Tot Toters nearly six years ago when she and I were starting this journey together. As a new mom everything is overwhelming. I had registered for a Moby wrap and an Ergo carrier and was eager to use them but had no clue how to do so. I did know that this little girl loved to be close to me and I loved holding her close, but somehow, I had to tackle the laundry, dishes, grocery shopping, and other daily tasks at hand. TTT is the local babywearing group where I learned that the options for baby carriers are as endless as the reasons for wearing my baby.

There are three main types of baby carriers. Slings, wraps, and soft structured carriers. A sling is worn over one shoulder and is an excellent option for newborns or for older babies and toddlers who like to be carried on your hip. A wrap is a long piece of fabric that is used to wrap around the torso and usually over the shoulders to carry baby. There are stretchy wraps like the popular Moby wrap that are perfect for tiny babies and woven wraps that provide much more versatility as baby grows.  A soft structured carrier such as the Ergo, or Tula carriers are sewn into a structured seat with shoulder straps and buckles. These carriers are adjusted with straps to fit the wearer and are often the easiest to use.  Finding the right carrier to fit your needs can be daunting with all the options out there and as with most things in parenting, there is a learning curve to using them. Don’t let this discourage you.  Once you find a good fit for you and baby you will be so glad you stuck with it.

The reasons I listed above for wanting to wear my baby are all convenience reasons. I had things to do and this little girl wanted me to hold her all day long. This is the most obvious benefit to babywearing as daily tasks and errands can be accomplished while baby is close and happy. Babywearing also allows you to go places a stroller may not such as hiking or to a crowded festival. But this is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to babywearing benefits. Wearing your baby helps to regulate his or her physiological functions such as heart rate, breathing, and temperature as he or she responds to you.  It allows you to more quickly respond to baby’s needs and hunger cues therefore baby cries less. It also encourages social skills as baby grows since he or she is at eye level with others (but an added benefit is that since they are so close to you it often deters those others from touching baby). When done correctly it builds core muscle strength and supports cranial development.

So, what does this look like? The following are some of the most important guidelines to follow when wearing your baby, no matter which type of carrier you have chosen.

Baby should always be tight against you in a straight, upright position. This provides spine support and prevents baby from sliding or accidentally falling out. The baby should be supported from one knee to the other in your carrier and should always have his or her knees higher than their bottom in a seated position for proper hip placement. Baby should be close enough for you to kiss, that is, high on your chest to where you can continually monitor breathing and airway. The baby’s chin should never be touching his or her chest nor should their head be arched backwards.  A newborn’s airway is about the size of a drinking straw and when their neck is bent either forward or backward that airway is compromised. You should never have to move fabric to see your baby’s face.

There are many other tips for experiencing the greatest benefits, finding the right fit, and safety while babywearing. TTT seeks to educate and provide support in all these areas. We also offer a lending library with over 100 carriers to be checked out by members for a month at a time. This is a perfect way to find the best carrier for your needs and to learn how to use a variety of carriers. We meet the first Saturday and second Tuesday of every month at Magnolia Birth Center in Greensboro. Join our Facebook page for updates.

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