Carry In Style - Advice from a Babywearing Expert

Hi - I'm Melanie from Carry In Style Amsterdam Babywearing Services, and together with my 3 year old son Mason, I live in Amsterdam.

The beginning of my babywearing journey

When I was pregnant I thought I would just carry the Bugaboo stroller I had bought up and down three stairs every time I wanted to go outside with my son. Well, after only a couple of days into motherhood I realised it was a very bad idea!

So when my son Mason was 1.5 weeks old, I bought a highstreet babycarrier. I loved it, outside the house and inside, but after only 2 months my back and shoulders were killing me! I didn't know anything about wraps or ergonomic babywearing, but luckily I met a mother that did know a bit about it and I switched from the back killing babycarrier to the stretchy wrap. Mason loved it and so did I! Through research I learned about ergonomic babywearing, knee to knee support, the TICKS rules of safe babywearing and all the benefits of babywearing.

Carry in Style

When my son was about 6 months old I started blogging about babywearing on Facebook as Carry In Style, but I wanted to do more. I wanted to educate myself so I could educate other parents. Since then I've done 4 babywearing courses (2 in the Netherlands and 2 in the UK at the Trageschule) and I can call myself a certified babywearing consultant. With over 4000 followers on Facebook I'm also proud to say that I have become the best known Dutch babywearing expert. I'm happy to reach and help this many people and may share my love for and knowledge about babywearing with all of them.

Benefits of Babywearing

Besides the fact that babywearing is cozy, it's handy and it even is a workout, babywearing has more proven benefits:

  1. Sling babies tend to cry less, because they are close to the caregiver.

  2. Sling babies learn more, because they can spend more time in the state of quiet alertness. Researchers have also reported that carried babies show enhanced visual and auditory alertness.

  3. Sling babies tend to be are more organized, because they benefit from the regulating presence of the parent. When left to their own resources, without this regulating presence, the infant may develop disorganized patterns of behavior: Colicky cries, jerky movements, disorganized self-rocking behaviors, anxious thumb sucking, irregular breathing, and disturbed sleep. Thus being forced to self-calm, the infant wastes valuable energy they could have used to grow and develop.

  4. The 'humanizing' benefits of babywearing. The baby is intimately involved in the caregiver’s world. Baby sees what mother or father sees, hears what they hear, and in some ways feels what they feel.

  5. Sling babies tend to be are smarter, because - when participating in their parents’ world while in the sling - environmental experiences stimulate nerves to branch out and connect with other nerves, which helps the brain grow and develop.

(Source: http://www.askdrsears.com/topics/health-concerns/fussy-baby/baby-wearing/benefits-babywearing)

Mason is now 3 and I still carry him. A lot less than I used to, but he still likes to be in a carrier especially when he's tired (yes, even at home he asks for it). But even when my own babywearing days come to an end, I will keep encourage parents to do the most natural thing possible: hold their child close to them.

Ask the Babywearing Expert

Some of the mamas in the MamaHub Group on Facebook asked me some questions. Here they are, along with my answers!

Q: Hi Melanie, I'm going over to Germany next year to my brother’s wedding and I will be bringing my 3 boys with me, the youngest will be 1yr and 2mths, what kind of carrier would you recommend for a baby that size, bearing in mind I never used any sort of slings in any of my kids so I don't know any of the makes or models that are out there. But I think it could be useful when I'm over there instead of a buggy? - Carol

A: Dear Carol,

Thanks for your question! First, let me explain the differences between a couple of products you can use to carry your child:

  • wrap or sling (stretchy or woven): a long piece of cloth

  • ring sling: a shorter piece of cloth with 2 rings sewn in

  • mei tai carrier: a backpanel for child with 2 straps for on your waste and 2 straps for over your shoulders

  • half buckle carrier: the same back panel with the same two straps for over your shoulders, but buckles for on your waste

  • full buckle carrier or soft structured carrier: the same back panel, but in stead of straps, only buckles. Using a full buckle carrier is as easy as putting on a backpack!

I think taking a carrier with you is indeed more useful than a buggy, because very often at parties you see parents carrying their children in their arms and that's much heavier than carrying them in a carrier.

Because you are new to babywearing, I would advise you to go to a local sling library and try different carriers, because babywearing is very personal. With babywearing it's important that your child has support from the wrap or carrier from one back of the knee to the other. When Mason, my son, had the same age as your youngest, he could easily fit in a Manduca, Ergobaby, Tula baby, Beco or other full buckle carrier. However, I also know children of that age where those carriers are too small and they need a toddler carrier.

Then you also have the person using the carrier: I loved the Manduca full buckle, but others hate it and prefer the Egobaby or Tula full buckle.

So, try out different carriers and find the one that fits you and your child best. Good luck and much fun at your brother's wedding!

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Q: This may sound ridiculous, but can I make my baby lazy by carrying him? Is it even possible to carry too much? I have an Ergo for when I’m out and a Babasling that has saved me time and time again when he wants to be up looking at everything I do or when he doesn't want to be in his buggy on a walk. He really loves sitting up on my hip or back and watching the world. He has started walking since Christmas but still loves to be carried. - Fiona

A: Dear Fiona,

Thanks for your question! I totally understand, so please don't worry about sounding ridiculous. With my son (now 3) I've wondered about the exact same thing :-) I've carried him since he was 1,5 weeks old and still carry him, but if it's up to him, he wants to run. Not walk, but run, hahaha!!

So I think babywearing doesn't make children lazy. I do think personality makes people lazy. If your son really is lazy, then it doesn't matter if you use a carrier or stroller, because he doesn't want to walk anyway.

But Fiona, I guess he's still very young because he just started walking. I don't believe you can already say he is lazy. He might like to be near you and to see the world from a better and higher view. He knows you best from everything and everyone in the whole wide world, so when he's with you he feels safe.

I'm not a doctor and all I have is your question and what you say in it, but from my point of view you have nothing to worry about. Enjoy the snuggles!!

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Q: When I met Michelle in Dublin in November I was quite in awe at how she wrapped Cara up in her sling. She'll probably remember that I was in no way considering using one of those but rather the baby carriers that are already formed! My boobs are huge and I'd be terrified they'd suffocate the baby in a sling. Am I being ridiculous or am I better off using the harness type one? Thanks for any advice. - Adrienne

A: Dear Adrienne,

Thanks for your question! You're not being ridiculous by questioning if you can suffocate your baby. There are TICKS rules for safe babywearing. The letters stand for:

T - tight
I - in view at all time
C - close enough to kiss
K - keep chin on chest
S - supported back

When you have your baby close enough to kiss his (or her) forehead, there is enough room for him to breathe. So it doesn't matter if you're using a wrap, a full buckle carrier or frame carrier (which you can only use on your back and I wouldn't advice, because of the support for the child and the fact that the more room there is between you and your child, the heavier it will be for you); when you stick to the TICKS rules, there is nothing wrong.

Babywearing should be comfortable for both child and parent, so if you are insecure to use a wrap like Michelle, then there are other ways of babywearing where you don't have to use a long piece of cloth.

Please visit a sling library and find out what works best for you and your child. Good luck!

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That's it for now. If you have any other questions or would like to get babywearing advice, please contact me!

Much love,
Melanie Koswal
Carry In Style
www.facebook.com/CarryInStyleNl