One of the easiest ways to keep your baby happy through the day whilst getting on with the things you need to do is to ‘babywear’ – in other words to carry your baby in a carrier / sling / wrap. Your baby gets to feel snuggled up to its favourite person, listening to your breathing and your heart-beating whilst being rocked as you move along. When you think about it, it’s really reminiscent for your baby of being in the womb, which let’s face it, was a really nice place for him/her to be.
There are loads of Babywearing products on the market and I’m not going to tell you which to buy (whispers: the Moby Wrap is my favourite) but what I can do is give you a few pointers on what to look for. The primary thing we are looking to avoid is an occurrence of hip dysplasia or dislocation.
After birth, it takes several months for your baby’s hip and knee joints to stretch out naturally, perhaps even longer for a Frank Breech baby. The hip-joint is a ball and socket joint. During the first few months of life the ball is more likely to be loose within the socket because babies are naturally flexible and because the edges of the socket are made of soft cartilage. If the hips are forced into a stretched-out position too early, the ball is at risk of permanently deforming the edges of the cup-shaped socket (hip dysplasia) or gradually slipping out of the socket altogether (hip dislocation).
So what does this have to do with Babywearing? Well, quite a lot of carriers, especially those available on the High Street, don’t hold the child in a helpful way. What you’re ideally looking for is for your baby’s legs to be held in a frog-like pose so that the hips are held correctly. Here are some great pictures from the International Hip Dysplasia Institute:
This first picture shows a typical, well-marketed carrier. The ball of the hip joint is pushed out, risking hip dysplasia/dislocation.
This second picture shows a well-designed carrier; it holds the baby’s hip joint in the correct position. Consider these images when choosing the carrier for you and your baby. Basically, look for ‘froggy-style’ legs rather than a ‘crotch-dangler’.
5 TICKS to safety:
To ensure your baby remains safe – just remember TICKS:
T – TIGHT - The carrier should be tight enough to hug your baby close to you as this will be most comfortable for you both. If it is too loose, your baby will slump down in the carrier which can hinder their breathing and pull on your back.
I – IN VIEW – You should always be able to see your baby’s face by simply glancing down without having to move any fabric. In a cradle position your baby should face upwards rather than turned in towards your body.
C – 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.
K- KEEP CHIN OFF THE CHEST – If your baby’s chin is on their chest, their breathing could be restricted. Ensure there is always a space of at least a finger width under your baby’s chin.
S- SUPPORTED BACK – in an upright carry, a baby should be held comfortably close to the wearer so their back is supported in its natural position and their tummy and chest are against you. A good rule of thumb is to place a hand on your baby’s back and pressing gently – they should not uncurl or move closer to you. A baby in a cradle carry in a pouch or ring sling should be positioned carefully with their bottom in the deepest part so the sling does not fold.
If you’d like to find a range of safe carriers, take a look at the shop here
If you want more information on Hip Dysplasia, take a look here