44 Tips to Make Babywearing Easy! Is babywearing for me?
Is babywearing for me?
It’s a question many parents ask. We say yes! Babywearing, in some form, is for almost everyone. It’s a wonderful way to keep your child close, your hands mostly free, and everyone happy.
Read our 44 tips for babywearing with ease and learn everything you need to know to get started.
1. Know your babywearing facts.
It’s important to know the facts about babywearing when you’re considering how to make it work for your family. Knowing your facts will keep your baby safe, give you points to talk to others about, and help you feel confident if anyone questions your choice.
2. Babywearing supports breastfeeding.
According to La Leche League, breastfeeding mothers who regularly practice babywearing have an easier time breastfeeding and nurse their babies more often.
Mothers who wear their babies respond to feeding cues quicker, which means feedings are more frequent and the mother’s milk has a higher fat content. This helps baby gain more weight and can aid in physical development.
3. Babywearing helps reduce crying.
The close connection that baby feels when held close to a caregiver’s body is always there when babywearing. Studies have found that infants who were carried at other times, not just when fussing, cried 43% less overall and nearly 51% less in the evenings. That’s pretty incredible!
4. Babies held close are more able to regulate their own physiological functions.
Our children learn so much from us. Babies who are worn often appear to learn even more. According to one Harvard study, babies worn close to the body take cues on heart rate regulation, temperature regulation and breathing from the adult they are nestled against.
5. Choose the right type of carrier for you.
One of the most important aspects of babywearing is choosing the right carrier. Many parents use different types at various stages of their child’s development, different activities, or when the weather changes. Know yourself and do plenty of research before you choose your first carrier.
6. Understand slings.
The oldest and most popular type of carrier around the world is a basic sling. A baby wearing sling is simply an extra-long piece of well-woven cloth that is tied in a specific way to hold your child. The most common way you are likely to see a sling worn is over the shoulder and across the torso. Worn this way, a sling is ideal for keeping newborns close to your body and allowing them to nestle into the fabric. For older children, hip and back wearing are also possible with slings of the right length.
Some slings include a ring for easier adjustment, such as the popular Tula Ring Slings. These slings are easier for those new to babywearing, as the ring provides an easy focal spot for tying the sling correctly.
Slings are best suited to families that are comfortable with a bit of a learning curve and often a slightly higher expense upfront. That said, the payoff is well worth it. Slings are by far the most versatile option for babywearing.
7. Consider the affordable and versatile wrap.
A wrap is also a long piece of fabric, usually slightly wider than a sling. These are worn across the torso and usually over both shoulders. Wraps are extremely versatile and the most affordable option for most parents.
8. Soft structured carriers are a simple solution.
Soft structured carriers are the simplest solution for babywearing. These carriers are constructed of fabric that is reinforced with some form of padding. They usually utilize shoulder and waist straps, buckles, and specific sewing techniques to create a safe and structured way to keep your child close.
Structured carriers can be used from infancy into the toddler years. However, most structured carriers will require an infant insert until your child can hold up his own head. Some of our favorite structured carriers are made by Tula and Ergobaby.
9. Keep safety in mind.
When you purchase a stroller, car seat, or crib it’s important to understand the safety precautions taken in both manufacturing and your use of the gear. It’s the same for babywearing gear. It’s extremely important to keep safety precautions in mind when you’re choosing a carrier and learning how to use it.
10. Learn your ABC’s.
Babywearing International created a handy infographic to help you make sure your child is safe. We recommend bookmarking it or printing it out. Quickly, the ABC’s of babywearing are:
- Airway - Keep the airway open for your child. That means that fresh air can easily circulate around your child’s face.
- Body Positioning - Your carrier needs to support your child in a way that is developmentally appropriate for his neck and trunk control. Make sure your carrier prevents slumping down and can keep his weight born properly.
- Comfortable - The carrier, no matter what type, should be comfortable for both you and your child. When you’re trying out a new carrier, have a spotter close to help you figure out positioning.
Be sure to bookmark Babywearing International for more safety and wearing tips.
11. Understand compliance regulations and registration.
Just like other gear, there is a set of compliance standards for baby carriers that are important for consumers to be aware of. Your carrier should come with the following elements:
- A postcard to register your product, just like a stroller would. This allows a manufacturer to reach out to you, in the event of a recall;
- A permanent tracking label and care label (Learn more about these special labels required by law here).
12. Practice with a spotter when you’re starting out.
Learning to properly put on your carrier, especially with a squirming infant or toddler, can be more than a little tricky. Just like a gymnast, it’s important to practice your mount and dismount. Practice tying your sling and getting into your soft structure carrier over a soft surface and close to the ground. For the first few times you place your child in the carrier, ask someone to stand close as a spotter. This will help you ensure your child’s safety when you’re learning.
13. Check your carrier for wear often.
Since carriers are primarily made from fabrics, they will wear over time. The best-made varieties will last for years, but eventually, fabrics will start to break down, especially at stress points. When and where this happens varies by user, which is why checking your carrier for wear is extremely important.
Every couple of months you should go over your carrier carefully. Make sure there are no loose seams or frayed parts.
14. Understand babywearing in extreme heat.
When it’s hot outside keeping your baby and yourself cool are at the top of your priority list. Adding extra layers may make you nervous. We get it, the team at PeppyParents.com calls Florida home, so hot and sticky weather is something we’re used to. Follow these tips to keep yourself and your child summer sunny, not summer sad...
15. Think about the fabric’s breathability.
No matter what type of carrier you’re using, breathability becomes important when the temperature soares. Look for carriers made of strong, but lightweight fabric. For padded and structured carriers, look for ones where a piece of the padding has been removed to allow for better airflow, like the Tula Coast carriers or the Ergobaby Cool Air Carrier.
For wraps and slings, look for fabrics that are woven, stretchy, or jersey. These will be lighter and easier to wear during the summer.
16. Backwear more often.
For most parents, it’s easier and more comfortable to backwear during warm weather. If your child is old enough, consider hip or back positions to keep yourself and your little one cooler.
17. Keep a layer of fabric between you and baby.
If your thighs have ever rubbed together on a sticky day, you know why skin-to-skin contact when the humidity is high is no fun. Grab a soft washcloth, extra burp cloth, or just wear a regular t-shirt to place between your skin and baby’s. Keeping that small layer of fabric between the two of you will make things way less sweaty on warm days.
18. Get some shade!
We know you’re a superhero, but sometimes it’s important to slow down. Hot months are especially good times to stop, relax, and get a little shade. Find yourself a tree somewhere and keep cool.
What? You say your life can’t stop when the temperature skyrockets?
Well, then it’s time for an umbrella. Carry one in your purse or out on walks for a quick way to keep the sun out of your eyes and off your skin. Always make sure you have plenty of sunscreen too.
Finally, consider purchasing leg drapes or a lightweight hood to attach to your carrier.
19. Consider a travel fan.
Whether you go low-tech and fold your own fan, or fork over a few dollars for a battery-operated soft blade fan, adding a little airflow is an easy way to keep yourself and baby a bit cooler when you’re out for a picnic or trip to a theme park.
20. Consider water wearing.
Did you know you could wear your baby in the pool? It’s easy and cool.
Use a water-specific wrap or one made of fast-drying fabric like athletic mesh. Keep an eye on where baby’s head is when you’re in the water. It’s easy to find yourself deeper than you realized.
21. Understanding babywearing in winter.
Cold weather adds a few layers (pun intended) to your babywearing routine. Make sure you’re prepared for the changing of the seasons with these easy tips for keeping baby toasty and comfortable when temperatures dip.
22. Wear Layers when it’s cold.
Your mother was right. Take a sweater or jacket to wear over your clothes. Keep a blanket handy. Dressing yourself and your child in layers allows you to regulate your temperature more easily. This is especially important when wearing your child. Two bodies so close together can be warmer than you think. Give yourself the flexibility to cool off or warm up with ease.
23. Pay attention to legs.
Most configurations for wearing older babies, whether in a sling or a soft structured carrier, leave the child’s legs hanging out. This can make for cold limbs in the winter months, especially when pants ride up. Make sure your child has leggings, leg warmers, or is underneath your coat when it’s cold outside.
24. Make sure your carrier works with your coat.
Bulky winter coats don’t work so well under your carrier, but carrying inside the coat means you need to check for proper fit and airflow. Make sure your favorite keep-warm gear works with your regular-use carriers.
25. Watch out for zippers and other uncomfortable stuff.
You don’t like to be poked or have a cold zipper pressing against your skin. Your child won’t like it either. Make sure zippers, clips and tags don’t lay against baby’s skin or poke her uncomfortably.
26. Consider a babywearing vest, hoodie, or jacket extender.
Vests, hoodies, and jacket extenders that are made especially for babywearing are an easy and generally affordable way to make sure you and your child stay warm during cold travels. Vests and hoodies are usually made with extra fabric and an additional head slot for baby. Jacket extenders are usually a fleece or wool piece that zip into your favorite coat’s zippers.
27. Make sure you can see her head. Never zip your baby completely into your coat.
Don’t forget your ABC’s when you’re sharing your coat with your baby. It’s important for airflow to baby’s face to be unobstructed and free-flowing. That means unless you have a specially made or modified jacket it shouldn’t be zipped all the way up.
28. Check your child often.
In extreme weather, hot or cold, it’s easy to quickly become uncomfortable. Check your child often to ensure airways are open, temperature is normal, and she is comfortable. Here’s a good rule of thumb, if you’re sweating it’s probably time to remove a layer.
29. Bookmark these optimal positioning guides from Babywearing International.
Proper positioning is an important part of healthy wearing. It’s critical to understand proper positioning, especially when using a carrier type that is unfamiliar. Print or bookmark this visual guide from Babywearing International so there’s never any doubt.
30. Put your carrier on before your purse/backpack.
It might seem like a little, no-brainer thing. Trust us, it’s huge. Few things are as frustrating as trying to reach your wallet and realizing the entire carrier will have to come off to make that possible. One of the benefits of babywearing is having your hands mostly free, but if you have to take everything off the convenience drops. For that reason, think about progression before you get ready to go out. Carrier first, then accessories.
31. Brush up on best practices for cooking while babywearing.
A few of our team members are avid home cooks, but we never thought about babywearing while cooking. Thankfully, Meghan Splawn at The Kitchn did the thinking for us all. Read up on her tips for cooking with little ones. Then get dinner on the table in record time.
32. Use a ring sling or wrap for newborns, but not while frying or working over a burner.
A sling or wrap makes chopping and filling the slow cooker a breeze. But stay away from the stove with loose fabric. It’s way too easy to accidently drape fabric over a hot burner or splash grease on your little one. Keep baby safe by keeping her away from hot surfaces.
33. Once baby is old enough, back-carry for safe cooking.
As soon as your child is old enough (usually around 6-months), back carrying is the easiest way to cook with your little one on board. This keeps the barrier of your body between your child and the food. But keep in mind that little limbs are still vulnerable.
Many small children, even as young as 6-8 months, will enjoy watching you prep dinner from this vantage point.
34. Understand what causes hip dysplasia and keeps your baby healthy.
One of the most important aspects of healthy babywearing is proper infant hip positioning. Follow HipDysplasia.org’s easy visual and video guide to make sure your child’s hip joints stay safe.
35. Take your kiddo out on the trail.
Outdoor parents don’t need to give up their lifestyle once baby comes along. Babywearing offers a convenient way to get out on the trail without the need for an expensive all-terrain stroller. Follow these simple tips and you will always be trail-ready when the woods beckon.
36. Keep your hikes good-weather friendly.
The best hikes with little ones happen when the weather is great. Don’t try to wear your baby on a hike when the weather is too cold, hot, or wet. It won’t be fun for anyone and could be dangerous.
37. Bring basic hiking supplies and snacks.
You already know water and safety supplies are important on hikes that are off-road or more than a couple miles. Keep in mind that your child’s needs will be even more acute than your own. Make sure you have extra water and snacks on hand if you’re going out for more than the shortest of hikes.
38. Add a babywearing mirror.
If you’re hiking for longer than an hour consider a mirror. This doesn’t need to be anything fancy. It can be as simple as a compact or a keychain. Carrying a mirror allows you to check your child as you’re back carrying without removing the whole carrier.
39. Plan for diaper changes and break times.
Long trails are fun and fairly hassle-free when babywearing, but your little one will need bathroom breaks. Whether you're changing baby’s diaper or finding a spot in the woods for a toddler, make sure to take supplies and take breaks often enough to keep everyone comfortable.
A wet bag, long thick changing pad, and extra wipes are a good idea. Change diapers whenever you can and plan to carry your trash.
40. Wear two children while you hike?! Yup, you can. Read this.
If you’re a veteran hiker and babywearer then this tip is for you. Outdoor moms share their strategies for babywearing two children at HikeItBaby.com. Use their strategies to go hands-free with the whole family and get seriously fit in the process.
41. Make friends with other babywearing moms.
One of the most difficult aspects of being a new parent is the isolation many feel. Babywearing moms have a super simple way to combat that. Most are open and willing to help other moms who are interested in babywearing and/or attachment parenting. Reach out in one of the following ways and make some new friends.
42. Visit a babywearing group.
Many towns have at least one babywearing group. Bigger areas sometimes have a few. Use Meetup.com and/or BabywearingInternational.org to find a group near you. Most have at least monthly meetings and often host mixers, parties, and educational events.
43. Join babywearing groups for your state or area on Facebook.
If you’re in a rural area or just unsure where to start, there are hundreds of babywearing groups on Facebook. Look for one specific to your favorite brand (we’re involved with almost a dozen Tula-specific groups) or a general one. Either way, it’s a fun place to meet other moms without even putting on pants.
44. Swap, trade, sell, or recycle your used carriers, wraps, and slings.
There is a huge resell and reuse market for baby carriers. Whether you own a Tula carrier or a handwoven sling, you can probably find someone who wants to buy it or trade for it when you’re ready to move on to something new. Talk to your mom group, join Facebook groups, or even post on babywearing message boards. Sharing your gently used items with others helps everyone.
Babywearing is a wonderful experience for parents.Whichever activities you choose to add to your adventures as a new parent, babywearing can help make them easier and more connected. Enjoy this time where your little ones are small enough to keep close. It might not seem like it on stressful days, but these moments will be over all-too-soon.
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