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Everything you wanted to know about Babywearing with slings & wraps!

Shabs Kwofie, the owner of Amawrap, answers every single question you can think of in regards to babywearing. If you think of any other questions please do email us and we will get those answered too!

 

Should I get a pram or a sling?

There is a time and a place for both. If your baby is heavy and you have a massive shopping trip planned, then maybe a pram would be your best bet due to the storage options underneath. However if you have a newborn, if you were going for a walk with your other kids or the dog, doing the school run, popping to the shops, or you simply have lots to do around the house and your newborn is crying then it would be far easier to simply pop baby into your sling and carry on! We have even taken the sling into meetings, as have a few members of parliament across the globe!
There is no harm in getting both, and as expensive as prams can be, carriers are generally very reasonably priced.

Mother wearing her baby in a sling while pushing a pram

 

Are Baby Slings safe for newborns?

Absolutely! Baby Slings and baby wraps were used to carry newborns long before prams were invented. It allows baby to be close to you. The skin-to-skin contact offered through babywearing is beneficial for so many reasons. There are exchanges that occur while baby is close to you; hormonal exchanges, pheromonal, antibodies, scental, amongst a few. It helps to regulate their heartbeat and temperature. It can help to soothe them, thus reducing the level of stress hormone in their system. The younger baby is, the more they benefit from the contact.

newborn baby in a sling

That being said, when you use a sling you must still adhere to the safety considerations, as you would with anything else. Make sure that babys chin is never resting on his chest, that babys airway is completely clear, and that you have a clear view of babys head so that you can keep an eye out. You can learn how to correctly wear your baby wrap by watching our easy how to tie a baby sling instructional video

 

What should your baby wear in a sling?

Well that depends on the weather, and the sling! But for a general rule, consider how many layers your baby will be carried in. A stretchy wrap like Amawrap for example has three thin layers, a buckle carrier may have one very thick sewn layer. Factor that in.
Also, are you using the wrap around the house? In which case you may want to put less layers on, and for outside when its cold, a decent coat. (never a snow suit). Remember that baby will also be sharing your body heat, and when they are small you can wrap your maternity coat around the both of you! Remember that their legs and head will be sticking out of the wrap, so when outdoors make sure you remember their booties and hat! I’ve talked about babywearing in winter in a previous blog post.

 

What is the best baby sling for newborns?

Most people tend to go with a stretchy wrap when looking for newborn baby carriers. It is one size fits all, plus the fabric molds over babys back rather than him sitting against a harder structured carrier, meaning that even when baby is tiny you will have a perfect fit.

When my son was born at 35w he was a tiny 5lb 3oz. At that age and weight, he would have benefited from the skin-to-skin contact more than most, so I used the wrap from day 2 (with the blessings of our healthcare professionals due to his weight) It fit perfectly and he was as happy in it as he would have been in the womb.

 

There are many types of baby carrier

• A structured carrier or a buckle carrier is what you are likely to find on the high street. It has a structured part for baby to rest against, and adjustable straps and buckles. This type of baby carrier great for older babies, but smaller newborns can sometimes seem a little lost in there, and for this reason some companies also sell inserts that baby can “sit on” in the carrier.

woman wearing a baby carrier

• A ring sling is a piece of fabric with two rings at one end. The other end of the fabric is threaded into the two rings

 

• A woven wrap is a woven piece of fabric with no stretch, making it ideal for older babies.

Back Carry in Woven Wrap image

• Meh Dais – originating in China, this is a piece of fabric with straps coming off each corner.

Smiling mum and baby in a meh dai carrier

 

 

How long can you carry baby in a sling?

For as long as you need to. You will still be taking them out periodically to feed them and change their nappies, which is ample time to be able to get a good stretch in.

Babies spines are naturally curved like a C shape, and keeping them in a sling will support that natural curvature. Essentially, they are lying exactly how they did in the womb, and will be as comfy as they were in there too. As I said above, my sons was born slightly preterm. Which meant that he would have benefited from the skin-to-skin more than most. I used to keep him in the wrap for hours on end, and he absolutely thrived from the skin-to-skin contact.

Hip positioning of newborn in baby carrier image

 

Are baby carriers bad for baby hips?

It depends on the carrier.
Narrow based carriers, which support babies by their bottoms but may not support their legs may exacerbate pre-existing conditions of Hip-Dysplasia.
When choosing a carrier, try and find one that has a wide base which supports your babys legs all the way to the back of the knee (a position that would be achieved with a wrap anyway). Babys legs should be sat as above, with knees above the bottom, in an M position.
In cases of actual Hip Dysplasia, babies legs are placed in a cast for approximately 8 weeks, and the legs are actually placed in the exact position that we suggest above, showing that this is the best and optimal position for a babys hips.

 

Can babies sleep in Slings?

Yes, and chances are they will. And who can blame them?
In the womb they were used to being rocked to sleep while you were on the go, they were warm, they could hear your breathing and your heartbeat.
And now they are on the outside, warm and secure in the sling, where they are being rocked while you are on the go, hearing your breathing and your heartbeat…
As above, just make sure that you are able to see babys face and that their breathing is unrestricted.

 

Are baby slings dangerous?

A baby sling is as dangerous as a pram, a cot, or anything thing else you may own if not used correctly. There was a tragic accident in a “bag-style” carrier a few years ago. Many carrier companies had been campaigning to have the bag-style carriers removed from the market for years leading up to this accident as it can be very challenging to be able to monitor a babys breathing in one of these and while in the large it is working, there will always be the presence of cheap knock-offs on sites like Amazon and eBay.
Remember, baby slings have been around for centuries, far before prams were even invented, and when worn correctly these can have immeasurable benefits for you and baby.

 

How long can you baby wear?

For as long as you want to! Some people choose only to babywear through the newborn phase as it reduces daytime and nighttime crying significantly, others choose to continue to wear it when baby is bigger as its easier than navigating a buggy! And for others, they carry on wearing baby on their back even beyond a year to give their toddlers a break when their little legs have gotten tired from running around.

 

What age can you use a baby sling?

All reputable slings companies will have been safety tested. The test houses test “from birth to 33lbs”, which is actually the average weight of a three year old! Now while we are not saying that you must continue to use the carrier until baby is 3, but what it does mean is that at whatever age you choose to continue to babywear you can be assured that the sling is tested to well beyond.

 

What about front facing carriers?

Front facing carriers you may not find as comfortable for a number of reasons. Baby could feel overstimulated and have nowhere to be able to rest his head, should baby wish to sleep, again there is nowhere to rest his head which means that his head may end up dropping to his chest, which is not as safe as resting his head against your chest.
You may also both feel like you’re pulling forward, which won’t happen if baby is facing you. You can also read babys facial cues better if you can see babys face!

 

How are they for the parents back?

The great thing about wraps is that the shoulder straps can be pulled across to cover more of your body, thus ensuring that the weight of the baby is being distributed across your whole body.

Image of the back of a baby wrap sling

The fact that you are holding the babys weight with your entire torso ensures that you are not carrying them with one arm, putting strain not only with that arm but also that entire side of the body.

Mother smiling at her baby who is sitting in a newborn carrier

Its not just great for mums back – studies have shown that skin-to-skin contact with your newborn can help breastfeeding success due to the release of certain hormones in your system (oxytocin), and even ward off postnatal depression.

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