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Ergonomic Babywearing, what's the deal

Laurna, from Coorie in with Love talks to us about ergonomic babywearing, and why it is so important for you and your little one

What is ergonomic babywearing? What does it mean? Let’s start by understanding the meaning of the word ‘ergonomic’. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, Ergonomic means ‘designed to make people’s working environment more comfortable ant to help them work more efficiently’. In babywearing, ‘ergonomic’can be defined as something which is designed to minimise physical effort and discomfort, and hence maximise the practice of carrying your child. So how does  this fit in with babywearing and carrying and how can you choose which carrier to wear?

An ergonomic carrier will support baby in a natural position, it will have a wide base for baby to sit and have their hips in a supported ‘M’ position. The carrier will spread baby’s weight across your body and allow baby to feel almost weightless. In an ergonomic carrier or even a wrap, baby’s bum will sit lower than their knees, like the position of a hammock and offer full back support. Baby will be supported close to your body as they would if you were holding them in your arms.

 

How do I babywear securely - or ergonomically?

To ensure you are carrying correctly, check that baby is well supported with your chosen sling or carrier. You want the panel or fabric to support up to baby’s neck and full support to baby’s knees. Ensure that your carrier is tightened so it feels like you are giving baby a secure hug, but not so tight that it feels you have pressure on your neck or shoulders.

When tightening straps on a carrier, make sure they are tightened equally to prevent pain or tension on one side. Do this by tightening slightly one side at a time and working your way back and forth until it feels secure. Getting the straps sitting on the flat of your shoulders will ensure they are wider, offering more support across your back too. Unless you are doing a hip carry, you want baby’s body to be central on your chest, imagine that your spines are parallel to each other and make sure baby is not leaning or slumping.

Safety checks for babywearing are as follows:
Tight – Ensure baby is secure. An easy way to check is to support baby’s head and learn forward gently. If there is a large gap between you both then you may need to tighten some more. If you cannot take a deep breath comfortably, then you may need to loosen.

In view – You need to be able to always see baby’s face, no fabric or straps must cover baby’s face. Be mindful of this when using a babywearing jacket as you need to ensure baby has plenty of air flow, but you also want to protect them from the elements.

Close enough to kiss – This is the height that baby will be on your body. Baby needs to be high enough that you can easily kiss them on the head without leaning. Keeping baby nice and high will offer more back support and prevent any shoulder strain.

Keep chin off chest – This is especially important for newborns and smaller babies that have no or little head control. Ensure baby’s head is turned with their cheek on your chest and tilted upwards. This will keep baby’s airways open and prevent slumping.

– A well fitted and adjusted sling or carrier will offer full support to baby’s back ensuring they are supported in their natural position which will be curved into your body. This is created by forming the ‘M’ position with their hips. If the sling or carrier doesn’t support from knee to knee, their knees will point down, creating a straighter back. This will also result in no head support and you may feel like you need to support baby’s head with your hand.

 

Take it easy on yourself, it might take a bit to master it, but you will get there

When you are new to carrying, it’s completely normal to feel anxious and nervous when you start. Take your time to become familiar with your sling or carrier. Read your instructions and watch some tutorials made by the brand. Being familiar with something before using it with your baby can help you feel calmer and safer. You will feel more confident and better understand what you are doing; it’s all new to your baby, so chat to them. Talk through the process, you are learning together. This will keep you and baby calmer too, making the experience happier for both of you. When you are ready to have your first try, choose a time when baby is naturally calmer and more relaxed. It’s best if they have been fed, have a clean nappy and they are not overtired. Sometimes you will need to build it up but overtime it will feel more natural and you will gain the confidence needed. You will get used to baby’s routine, and once they become familiar with being carried, they will not mind when they go in. Being mindful of the weather and what activity you will be doing when carrying is also important. If you are carrying in the house for naptime then there is no need for extra layers. When carrying, your body heat transfers to baby and vice versa. They become your personal hot water bottle, so if you are planning to go out a long walk, you may only need a cardi and jacket or coat on top of you both to stay cosy. If you are using a stretchy or woven wrap, then you may have three layers over baby already. If you are using a buckle carrier, then that will only count as one layer. If the weather is unpredictable or wet, you might want to check shower resistant options too. Think of these as clothing layers when preparing for different weather conditions. If you are unsure about your sling, carrier or how to dress for the weather, get in touch with your local babywearing consultant. You can find them listed here
Coorie in with Love

Coorie in with Love

I'm Laurna, Mummy of two monkeys and live in the Scottish Highlands.

I love carrying and my favourite option to use is a woven wrap, I have quite a few! They are so versatile and beautiful pieces of art that you can wear!

I have been a carrying consultant for almost 7 years and I am also a peer trainer, this means I train others who want to support others.

About Wombat & Co. London

Wombat & Co. London is on a mission to spread the word about babywearing. As parents, we know that it could not be more important to foster a connection with your little one both during your pregnancy and throughout their early years, and we believe that babywearing is the best way to do this.

 We have experienced firsthand the relationship-building benefits of this thoroughly enriching practice, but we know that this is not limited to mother and child – babywearing can strengthen ties between mums and dads, and the family as a whole. As a family-owned business, we are driven by a passion for babywearing, and by offering items of the highest standard, we strive to pass on this enthusiasm on to the mums, dads and families that we serve.

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What is Babywearing?

what is babywearing

Babywearing is a mean of transport that allows continuous contact between baby and carer, offering multiple advantages and health benefits for the baby.

Physical contact offers tranquility and security to the baby. Ergonomic babywearing also offers several benefits for the physical and emotional development of the baby.

Ergonomic babywearing or babywearing in the best possible way

Babywearing should always respect the natural posture of a newborn baby. The more the carrier respects that natural posture, the most ergonomic it’ll be. The most adaptable and ergonomic carriers are simply a long piece of cloth where we can adjust to the exact shape of the baby. They represent the most ergonomic option for a newborn, although some claim they are hard to use and prefer different options (that we will discuss in another post: what is the best carrier for me and my baby? Best baby carriers of 2020)

Safe babywearing checklist:

  1. Permanent visual contact: can you see your baby’s face?
  2. Can you kiss your baby’s head when looking down? Baby must be at kissing distance
  3. Are face and nose free? The fabric should never cover their natural airways
  4. If baby is asleep, is her face resting on your body? The baby’s head should not be hanging back or down, it should rest against your body when they are sleeping or not strong enough to hold their necks
  5. Is your baby comfortable? Most common mistake is to over dress them. Avoid snowsuits, coats etc. There are other options!

Safe ergonomic babywearing checklist:

  1. Are the baby’s leg in M position? This is such an important one. Baby should ‘sit’ on the carrier, their knees should be higher than their little bums, aligned with their belly button.
  2. Is her bum resting against your body? The picture here probably clarifies this point!
  3. Is your baby’s head supported adequately? The carrier should support your baby’s head and help them support it during movement
  4. Is the carrier respecting the natural form of your baby’s back? The carrier should adapt to your baby’s shape, not force your baby into awkward positions!
  5. Are you comfortable when carrying your baby?
  6. Their bum should be above your belly button (which is your gravity center)
  7. Their weight should be distributed across your back and hips
  8. Carrier should be well adjusted. The difference in having a well adjusted carrier or not makes babywearing the best experience in the world or the most annoying one. Speak to a babywearing consultant, watch tutorials on YouTube and ask as many times as you need to. It’s key to the practicality of babywearing!

Key facts for babywearing parents

  1. Feel safe
    Ok, the baby is not going to fall down, but practice with a toy or soft toy as much as your need. If you are too heavily pregnant ask your partner or friends to practice in front of you. Use a mirror to look at what you are doing, it’s much easier when you see what you are doing. Watch online tutorials, ask your friends or find out your closest sling library and pop in for a visit. Most people working there are super nice and they are used to all sorts of question, so don’t be shy!
  2. Choose the right time
    It’s important for both of you to be relaxed and probably on your own the first time you do this! If the baby is hungry or tired it’ll be extra hard. With experience, babywearing will be an unbeatable way of putting them to sleep or calm them!
  3. Choose wisely
    You don’t need to buy a pricey carrier; you can buy them second hand or rent it from a sling library to see if you enjoy it. We would always recommend to go for a carrier that allows ergonomic babywearing, so you can rest assured your baby will be safe, your back will not be sore afterwards, and you’ll both have a lovely experience.
  4. You are not alone
    From your partner to family and friends, babywearing is an experience you can share. Grandmas and grandpas can babywear, friends can babywear too, brothers, sisters etc. If you are tired, if you had a c-section, if you are not feeling great and need a hand, ask for help. It makes such a difference! 
  5. Keep warm<
    There are different ways of keeping warm when going for a walk in the cold. We definitely recommend one of our Wombat & Co. coats and covers, but you can read more about you to babywear in the cold weather here.
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10 Benefits of Babywearing your little one

babywearing benefits

When done well, there are no contraindications to babywearing. Find out what the benefits are!

10 benefits of ergonomic babywearing for mums, dads and babies

Yes, you need to do a bit of research to find the right carrier, but once you find it there are so many advantages to babywearing that you will become addicted to it!

  1. It soothes your baby: the more you babywear, the more the baby will be soothed by this! They usually fall asleep too!
  2. Sling babies cope better with gas. Ha! The balancing movement of walking whilst being carried helps the bubbles in their little stomachs to go up, so they burp it out! Expects loads of farting and burping when going up and down the stairs; which we all know it’s great when it comes to babies!
  3. It’s great for travelling and public transport. It doesn’t take space, it allows you to carry things with your hands and it’ll avoid strangers touching your baby as much!
  4. It’s good for cognitive and social development, whilst preventing flat head syndrome: having your baby so close to you allows you to respond to their cues and touch them more. They can hear your heartbeat too and the sound of your voice which is exactly what they need. It gives them extra time to develop and focus on learning as they are completely soothed and feel secure.
  5. It’s good for mother/father – baby bond. When carrying your baby you talk to them more, you feel their heat and their cuddles. It is a way to reconnect for them, after leaving the familiarity of the mum’s womb.
  6. You can nurse discreetly – it takes practice but it’s very cool and practical. Don’t worry if you cannot do it at first. Breastfeeding is sometimes hard enough but once you are comfortable and can breastfeed comfortably, give it a go 🙂
  7. You can do other things, you are hands-free! Cooking, cleaning, reading, countryside walks, holding your other children’s hand whilst going for a walk, isn’t it fantastic?
  8. It decreases the risk of postpartum depression. Babywearing makes easy to have social interactions (believe me, everyone will smile at you when they see you and your little one!) It makes meeting friends easier as you don’t have to worry about places being pushchair friendly, it makes going out easier, so you can walk in the forest, in the park etc. All of these factors will give you a boost of confidence, which is so important after having a little one. Also, babywearing increases the chance to do skin to skin with the baby (and yes, we’re doing another blog post about this!), which research has connected to decreased rates of postpartum depression.
  9. It’s cheaper than a pushchair: but guess what, you don’t have to choose; babywearing is compatible with alternating with the pushchair.
  10. Your children grow more confident: being raised heart to heart with a parent means your child will gain a sense of you being there for them. They will know you are there to support them and they won’t be scared to fly solo, knowing there is no place like home!