My second guest post comes from Dr. Jennifer Smeaton- Fryer of Dynamic Health & Performance. A mom to two utterly adorable little ones and chiropractor, Jenn has agreed to share her thoughts and first-hand experience with babywearing with us here!
What is babywearing? Simply put, it is carrying your infant in a sling or other carrying device. It is a trend that has been spotlighted over the past several years by moms of influence the world over. Recently popstar Beyonce has been seen toting her little one around in one and Big Bang Theory star Mayim Bialik has even written a book which includes this technique as part of her approach to parenting. A baby carrier is now on most registries and only becoming more popular.
Having your hands free and being able to multitask while still being close to baby is definitely a plus, however, like everything else, it does pose certain dangers if not done correctly for both parent and child.
I have used carriers with both of my children from a young age and enjoyed it, but I also make sure I do my research because any product, service or device when used incorrectly can cause problems and no parent wants that for their precious infant. I strongly advise practice with any baby gear to ensure accidents do not happen. With that in mind, I have some tips to help you to enjoy this special time with your little one:
1. Read the manufacturer’s instructions first. Make sure that this is the right product for your needs. (Many come with DVD instructions, make sure you use this recourse)
2. Develop and follow a routine when taking the device on and off. Both you and your baby will get used to the movements and just like learning how to push their arm through a sleeve baby will learn how to help.
3. Always SIT DOWN and do your prep work like untwisting and laying out the carrier. Even if you have a spotter, it takes 2 seconds to find a bench or sit in the car and is infinitely safer. Better safe than sorry.
4. Make sure you bring a nice wide brimmed, light hat in sunny weather for the baby. Also bring a lightweight fabric cloth to tuck in the straps to shield baby’s hands and legs from the sun. It will also keep you cooler than a receiving blanket. A nice wide brimmed hat also works double duty as a nursing shield in the summer! I stumbled upon this trick with my second and it was so much easier (and cooler) in the summer than fumbling with a blanket or nursing shield.
5. Avoid drinking hot beverages or cooking over a hot stove while wearing your baby. Babies are naturally curious and it only takes a split second for a hand to shoot out and burn itself.
6. Do not do any high-impact exercising or jumping with a carrier on, that’s just asking for trouble.
7. Use common sense. Babies have a short attention span and need to move and experience their environment. Take a break frequently to unload your neck and shoulders.
8. Make sure you are using proper posture and stop wearing the baby or sit down when you get tired.
Babywearing is very physical and a lot of parents don’t think about the strain on their bodies. Carrying any load no matter how ergonomic, the carrier is challenging YOUR body. Your body naturally has less balance, co-ordination and stability when it is recovering from pregnancy and birth. (FYI, your body’s “CORE” stabilizers are your pelvic floor, abdominals and diaphragm. These are recovering and no doubt you are noticing some activities are more challenging than before)
The last 2 tips are specifically for new moms:
- Start short and increase your time and distance gradually. Just like working out you have to get your body used to the change and build slowly to walking longer distances.
- Keep your shoulders down and back and head above your shoulders (rather than jutting forward or constantly looking down at baby).
If you are reluctant to try, before giving up on this experience, ask for help. After talking to many moms and the frustrations surrounding their babywearing experiences I offer as part of my service a consultation to help. I review some post-natal posture considerations for you during babywearing and help you get more comfortable with the harness as well as answer any questions about posture and pain. I want you to enjoy every moment of being a parent!
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