As a parent, you may be familiar with the term, “babywearing", or the act of carrying a baby close to your body by using a sling or carrier. It can come in very handy, especially during those first few months, when baby wants and needs to be held often. Babywearing not only gives you hands-free capability again but it provides many benefits for you and baby.
Having baby close to you elicits the release of oxytocin, the hormone responsible for that “feel good” feeling. Oxytocin also has an important role in breastmilk production.
Babywearing can help provide baby with the calming reassurance they need and help keep them in a quiet alert state. This in turn can help reduce stress for mom.
By enabling a calm and alert state, baby is better able to take in their environment while feeling safe and secure. Mom can easily chat with baby and respond quicker to baby’s cues.
For breast-feeding mothers, babywearing can provide extra support and convenience while nursing.
Carrying baby for hours on end can really do a number on your neck, shoulders and back. Babywearing can help reduce strain on muscles and promote better posture.
While there are many benefits of babywearing for both mom and baby, if not done properly, it can have a negative impact on baby’s hip development.
According to the International Hip Dysplasia Institute (IHDI), there is evidence that babywearing for several hours each day, specifically during the first six months of baby’s life, can have a negative impact on hip development, but "periodic short-term use of a baby carrier is unlikely to have any effect on hip development” (IHDI, 2021).
The recommended M-position is, “thighs spread around the mother’s torso and the hips bent so the knees are slightly higher than the buttocks with the thighs supported" (IHDI, 2021). See the pictures below for a comparison of poor vs. good hip positioning in a baby carrier and sling.
In addition to babywearing, swaddling can have a positive impact on baby, reduce fussiness and help with sleeping. But, it also needs to be done properly. Keeping the hips and knees in an extended position for too long and too often can lead to suboptimal hip development.
According to the IHDI, commercial products for swaddling should have a loose pouch or sack for the baby’s legs and feet, allowing plenty of hip movement. Some commercial products can restrict the legs if they are tightened around the thighs and it's important to allow the hips to spread apart and bend up (IHDI, 2021).
If you're a new mom or expecting mom the number of carriers and swaddles available today can be overwhelming. The IHDI has done the work for you and provides a great comprehensive list of baby carriers and swaddles that they’ve deemed as “hip healthy”. You can check out their recommendations here!
The International Hip Dysplasia Institute, 2021 https://hipdysplasia.org/baby-carriers-other-equipment/ (IHDI, 2021)
Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash https://unsplash.com/photos/DPmevL6jcHo?utm_source=unsplash&utm_medium=referral&utm_content=creditShareLink