5 Things You May Not Know About Baby Wearing

father wearing his baby
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Baby wearing is recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). The AAP says wearing your baby helps prevent crying, encourage attachment and closeness, and promote your baby's development.

Parents have been wearing their babies for centuries, but if you're a first-time parent, it may be all new to you. Learn more about the hows and whys of baby-wearing.

1. There Are Many Ways to Wear a Baby

It's easy to feel overwhelmed when you first look into baby carriers, wraps, and slings. There are many different brands and companies and styles all claiming to be "the best," and often a single wrap, for example, can be tied in multiple ways to reposition the baby.

Ask around: Your friends who are parents can tell you about the carriers and wraps they are using. You might even experiment with trying them on. It can be a process of trial and error (but use caution if you're considering buying a used item; some counterfeit carriers and wraps are not as safe as the authentic products).

2. Know Your Wraps From Your Carriers

Baby wraps and baby carriers are two different things. Stretchy wraps, like the Moby wrap, are helpful when your baby is small because they are lightweight and help keep the baby snuggled up next to your body.

Wraps can be tied in multiple ways. Some are better suited for newborns, others for older infants, and others for big kids you are wearing on your back. A well-tied wrap made of the right material (the right thickness and stretch) can be very supportive for baby and your back.

Most carriers can be used for newborns, too (sometimes with a special newborn insert). The difference with a carrier: You don't have to tie them, which is easier for many parents.

3. You Can't Spoil a Baby Through Baby Wearing

Babies like to be held! It's just not possible to spoil an infant by holding them too much, says the AAP. Since baby wearing can reduce crying, that means less stress for everyone

4. Back Carrying Can Be Awesome

For older babies, toddlers, and preschoolers, you may find that back carrying works better, especially if you are, say, vacuuming or preparing a meal. The majority of carriers that allow you to wear a child on your front also allow you to wear them on your back. And you can also tie a wrap to allow your child to be on your back (your baby should be able to sit upright unsupported before you carry them on your back).

Note, though, that there are some important safety rules for wearing a child while cooking.

  • Watch out for burns. Whether your baby is on your chest or your back, stay away from anything hot: Don't use the stovetop or remove anything hot from the oven or even the microwave.
  • Keep babies facing in. If your child is on your chest, they should face in toward your body. Be very careful if you use a knife; if your baby makes a sudden movement, the knife could slip and cut you.
  • Keep dangers out of baby's reach. If your child is on your back, make sure anything you can reach is safe for them to reach. Don't assume that because they are behind you, they can't grab hot pans, sharp knives, and so on. Stick with tasks that don't put your child at risk, such as stirring with a spoon or whisk, cutting with a child-safe knife, and measuring and pouring ingredients.

If your child seems to want to see more of what is going on and/or your back is hurting from wearing them on your chest, you both will be happier wearing the child on your back. The weight distribution is typically most favorable for the adult's back when wearing the child on their back.

5. Baby Wearing Is Not for Everyone

Some babies and some parents find that baby-wearing just does not work for them and that's perfectly OK. Every baby is different and every parent is different. But since every carrier is different, too, you might want to try several options before you decide against baby wearing. Your preferences may change as your child grows, and your child's preferences may change too: Some prefer to be worn on the chest, while others would rather be on the adult's back.

Also, if you are the parent of a preemie, you may need to use a wrap instead of a structured carrier, at least at first. When wearing any baby who cannot sit upright unsupported, they should be worn in a way that their chin stays off their chest. For the first few months, babies should only be worn facing in against the adult's chest. When wearing a child on your chest, their head should be close enough to kiss.

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  1. American Academy of Pediatrics. Baby-wearing. Updated November 21, 2015.