Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Wearable Wednesday 2: Babywearing Myths

So last week, I talked about some of the general benefits to babywearing.  This week, I figured I'd address the myths out there.  Here goes.
Myth #1:  Babywearing is unsafe.
Babywearing, when done properly, is just as safe as putting a child in a stroller.  The safeness depends solely on the parent, though.  There was a big upheaval a while back when one brand of baby sling was recalled due to suffocation.  Scary shit!  BUT this brand of carrier is NOT the norm at all.  Also, the caregiver should follow proper safety protocol whenever putting baby in and out of a carrier.  Just as you can put a baby in a stroller wrong, you can put her in a carrier wrong too.  To prevent suffocation, make sure that the baby’s airway is not blocked by her chin slumping down to her chest, just as you would while putting her in a carseat. Keep the baby either in an upright position (my preferred), or in a horizontal, cross carry. Do not let the baby curl inward.  Carriers will have instructions on proper use, and practice around the house is key.
Also, one should make sure to ensure that the baby’s nose and mouth are not compressed against the side of the carrier, or against the carrier's body. Some people believe that SIDS is caused by the rebreathing of carbon monoxide, so always make sure that baby has constant access to fresh air in the carrier.  Once baby learns head control, this should take care of itself.  Baby should never be down too far for you to kiss, so it is quite easy to make sure she is safe.
Always kissable = always safe (and snuggly!)

Myth #2:  Babywearing is uncomfortable for the caregiver
Well, again, it can be IF done improperly.  I blame this one on cheap carriers completely.  But with the proper carrier and the proper carrier placement, it is just like wearing a backpack.  I mean shoot, we went through nine months of baby on our bodies, why is it so bad to continue it?
Like I said in the last section, baby should be close enough to you to kiss.  The reason being (for your body) is that it takes away strain from your lower back.  Put a backpack on a loosen the straps all the way, and you'll notice that it becomes much heavier.  The same with a baby, of course!  And once baby starts to get too heavy for the front of your body, they're probably ready to be on your back.  There are multiple carriers that make this an easy task, and it's quite safe and comfortable for your body.
Another reason people believe that babywearing is uncomfortable is because they insist on making baby face outward.  It "lets the baby see", but in reality it just moves baby's body weight slightly farther in front of you.  And I'm sure we've all taken physics in school and been told about carrying 10lbs against our body vs. carrying it away from our body.  So keep that baby up and facing you, and your back will be much stronger than it's ever been!
Zack is hungover AND using poor form!

Myth #3:  Babywearing causes hip/back problems for baby
This can actually be quite the opposite.  But again, only if done correctly!  There is one very important rule to remember when choosing a upright carrier for proper baby back safety:  baby's knees should not be below his butt.  When you hold your baby in your arms, do you support just his crotch while letting his legs dangle?  Probably not!  But for some reason, the less expensive baby carriers are made to do this.  Allowing legs to dangle puts all the stress in baby's lower back and can indeed cause hip/back problems.  There is a simple solution though--don't use those carriers!
Before baby can wrap his hips around you (usually until they're 4 months old) they should be placed in the frog position, which is knees to chest.  Basically like fetal position, except upright (I did this in the first picture).  This allows baby to breathe properly and keeps hips/back in perfect alignment without separating hips.  Wrap carriers are perfect for this position, and soft-structured carriers usually have infant inserts that can be purchased separately which allow for it as well.
Once baby is big enough to put his legs around your waist without overstretching (as we don't want to cause hip dysplasia) you can put baby in a regular carry.   The base of your carrier should support baby from knee to knee, without the butt sagging below or above that line.  This spreads the weight throughout the lower body instead of putting it all on his lower back.  Here is an example:
Taken from The International Hip Dysplasia Institute
 Myth #4:  Babywearing is too complicated
Not at all!  There are soooooo many types of carriers, and everyone can find the type perfect for them!  Before my daughter was born, I ordered my first wrap (super long piece of fabric).  When I got it, it honestly scared the crap out of me.  How could I possibly use that big huge thing with ease?  Well, I practiced at home and it became second nature.  I practiced with a doll at first, and then with baby as I sat on the bed.  Soon I was out and about and could tie that huge thing in my sleep.  For the second baby, I knew about lots of other carriers but still preferred a newborn in a wrap.  Like everything else in life, practice makes perfect.  I became the mom who could toss her toddler on her back and throw the straps up faster than someone could run over to (attempt to) help.  And if my uncoordinated ass can do it, ANYONE can!
Korean "podaegi", a tougher learning curve.  But I made it work!
 Myth #5:  Carrying baby will spoil her
Okay seriously.  People say this?  You mean carrying a tiny baby that's never experienced anything but being INSIDE someone will get spoiled by feeling close, nurtured, and safe?  It spoils a baby to keep them from overstimulation of crazy lights and grabby old people?  Just use your natural instincts to let you find the right answer to this one.  To get a little New Jersey on you--fuggedaboudit!
She looks super spoiled, huh?
 So there you go.  A few more reasons to babywear.  If done properly, it can be super comfy, fun, simple, healthy, and safe!  I'll start to break down the different carrier styles over the next few weeks so we can see which carriers are best for which situations, and eventually I'll get to some fun babywearing exercises!

In the meantime--Any other funny myths you've been given about babywearing?  I'm sure I left some out.  Happy snuggling!

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