This post is part of “All About Babywearing” Month (which has extended into November) on Dirty Diaper Laundry.
Why should you wear your baby?
Newborn- Imagine you are a happy fetus. You spend your days bouncing around gently in your mommy’s tummy, being bounced to sleep gently by the movements. It is warm and cozy in there, the perfect temperature, and you can drink all that water around you for fun, since there really isn’t anything else to do. Being curled up tight is pretty comfy too.
Then, you are evicted. It is pretty brutal, tight spaces, bright lights, strange “hands,” and vigorous wiping. Then you are placed on a hard surface to sleep.
If you wrap your baby tight against your chest in a stretchy wrap, you can mimic that feeling. The baby is kept warm from your body heat, he is cuddled up tight, and he will have ample access to your food supply. I don’t see anything better than that. I wish I had wrapped my son from the get go, but I know now!
Up to 3 months- When your baby doesn’t have full neck control, wearing them can be a challenge. Some of the most comfortable holds, at least for me, have been upright. You can wear your baby cradled in a sling, or wrapped with fabric behind their necks to offer more support. You can place them in a Soft Structure Carrier, like a Beco or Ergo, and add infant supports. There are lots of ways to hold them safely and comfortably.
At this point in their lives they want to be held, constantly. I remember when I was so hungry but couldn’t get off the couch because my baby was asleep in my arms. Had I been wearing him he would have been completely satisfied, and would have slept on me without keeping my arms tied up. *sigh*
3-6 Months- Your baby now has good neck control, so the fun can really begin. This is when you can use my favorite, the Kangaroo Hold. In this hold, you baby can sit cross legged, facing front. You can use this hold in a pouch or ring sling. While they are this age you can front face with no adverse effects on their spine, since they are seated. Trust me, your baby won’t mind this position. It is nice and cozy and scrunched up. Plus, they can get a great outlook on life. Some babywearing advocates don’t advise any front facing because of the outside world being met with your baby head on. Frankly, that seems silly to me.
By now, you are still most likely breastfeeding your baby. But you aren’t chained to the house anymore. Their feedings are frequent enough that you will need to feed them most trips. If you are able to, you can simply feed your baby in the carrier, saving you time and hassle. Around this age I wore my son, a lot. When we shopped, to amusement parks, short walks, and around the house. It was a way to keep him happy since he was still clingy. It was also a convenience. We decided to ditch the stroller on many occasions because I was planning on wearing my son. This was a godsend when we went to Tampa. Without a stroller at the theme park I didn’t have to worry with lugging it around.
6-12 months. Your baby is probably too large for the kangaroo hold at this point. If they really want to face out, you can consider a woven wrap. By now your baby is either already, or close to getting too heavy for a stretchy wrap. Or, there are carriers that have a facing out function that aren’t Bjorns, like the Cybex 2. GO and the soon to be released Beco Gemini. But, the best way to wear your babies is facing your tummy or back. This is a great age to use a back carry, and depending in the squirminess, they might let you put them in a back carry using the corner of your couch.
Back Carries are awesome to explore the world. Your baby will get a decent view, and your boobs will have some air time. I know mine get all sweaty when I wear my son for a long time! TMI! I love the back carry for tooling around town. You can actually grab a hot dog without your baby grabbing it from you! A carrier with a mobility position, where their arms have more wiggle room, is a good thing now also. While you baby might not want to be worn as much at this age, they will probably still tolerate it for short trips. Mine still loved it, but others might be more content in a stroller. As they continue to get heavier, it is important for their safety and your comfort to be wearing them correctly.
12 Months and up- ACK MY BACK! You might be thinking it is crazy to wear a 1 year old or older. I have heard tales of moms wrapping their 4 year olds for comfort! If your baby will still let you wear them, depending on independent they have become, then consider yourself lucky. You still get to snuggle them tight, and avoid the stroller! Back Carries and tummy to tummy are still great at this age, and if you want a heavier duty carrier, you could move up to a frame carrier like a Kokopax or Kelty. Those are very daddy friendly too, and daddies have more muscle to handle the weight.
Wearing them at this point is probably more of a convenience issue. You need to do dishes, wear them. You need to be hands free at the airport, wear ’em. But, if your baby is having a hard time with teeth, or is sick, wrapping them close is a great way to comfort them when they are most in need. Plus, you can still grab lunch!
The best reason to wear your baby is this: It feels warm and fuzzy!