There are many baby carriers on the market however in recent years they have come into two kind of catergories. Healthy hip/supportive carriers and less supportive. So why are there carriers which aren’t as good for babies on the market? Cause they are leaders in the branding and its not going to change anytime soon. You ask about baby carriers and immediately people tell you they have a baby bjorn or similar. However in most cases these are unsupportive to the baby. I only discovered this when I had youngest and people got talking to me about wraps and slings.
I was one of those people that had a BB type carrier for eldest however it was so uncomfortable that I never wore him for any length of time and I think we stopped using it altogether at 3 months. The difference is now is with the more supportive carriers for mum and baby I am still carrying a 1 year old frequently and for good lengths of time.
So what are the advantages of more supportive carriers?
Hip and leg posttion for baby: If you pick a baby up on your hip they lift their legs up around your waist automatically. In a BB carrier their legs are dangling down putting pressure on their hips, it doesn’t cause hip problems but if there is a pre-existing condition these carriers will aggrivate it. A supportive wrap or carrier will go from knee to knee and have the legs in at least a 90 degree position, ideally their knees should be higher than their bottom. A great page about healthy hip position is this one.
Spine Positioning: A babies spine is growing and changing all the time and should be correctly supported. Wraps ensure the baby is snug against you therefore unable to slouch. It is also reccomended that babies do not face forwards as it is means the healthy hip position cannot be achieved. A baby needs to have their spine slightly curved rather than flat against your front.
Social interaction: A baby in a sling can see everything you can see, they are at the same height as people around them and can see over the fences at the zoo etc. They are good for the emotional development of babies as being carried ensures they feel safe. Another advantage to carrying with a baby facing you rather than facing out is if they get overstimulated they are able to turn away and snuggle into mum whereas facing out it is not possible to do this.
Benefits to Mum:
The right supportive carriers such as wraps can be worn even by those with back problems and disabilities etc. I know of Mums who use wheelchairs and wear their little ones in a moby wrap. The right carrier will feel comfortable with the weight of the baby evenly distributed so you will be able to carry for longer periods of time than with a BB carrier. I recently saw a Dad pop his baby in a BB carrier and within ten minutes he removed him and just held him as he was so uncomfortable with it on. Wearing your baby has also been shown to help with bonding and post natal depression. You have your hands free and are able to do all your usual jobs but baby is happy and secure. Even now with a 1yr old if he is grumpy I pop him in one of our carriers so he is satisfied he is with Mummy but I can still do the jobs I need to do.
Mass produced high street carriers are often the stepping stone for mothers into slings, wraps and soft structured carriers when mothers start researching what carriers are most comfortable. Carrying a baby is not spoiling them nor giving into their needs! If you want to investigate other types of carrier look to see if you have a local sling meet and/or library who are able to help show you the various types of carriers and help you choose one that suits you and your lifestyle.
Other good reading: