I’m to happy to welcome Mish Meakin, our guest blogger who is a non-executive Director for Babywearing UK. I wish I’d had this kind of kit when my girls where small, but I didn’t know about their existence. Mish is married and a Mum to Molly (16), Niamh (12) and Joab (2). She is a qualified and registered nurse, a first aid trainer and a child protection trainer. She writes about how she got involved in the babywearing community.
Babywearing… Have you heard this term before?? The first time I came across it, I imagined Lady Gaga in some new eccentric outfit, with a baby on her shoulders as an ‘out there’ fashion accessory… But alas it is nothing to do with treating your child as a fashion accessory… Babywearing is in fact just a form a transport, a term to describe carrying your baby / child in a carrier, sling or wrap. Babywearing is a practice that has been going on for as long as man, all over the world and the benefits are well documented.
- Physical contact; this helps a child form a secure attachment with his caregiver, in the early days the contact helps mother produce oxytocin, which results in better breastfeeding rates, helps maintain milk supply and reduces the incidence of post natal depression. Dad or any other care giver can also join in with the babywearing, which helps them also to develop a strong bond. I love nothing better than seeing a protective doting Daddy with his baby wrapped safe and cozy on his chest.
- Flat head syndrome has in recent years become more and more common. Health Professionals believe this is partly due to an increase in ‘Travel systems’ where parents transfer baby from car seat directly onto a pushchair frame. Flat head is caused by extended time spent in car seats and by sleeping on the back. When a baby is carried, the chances of flat head are significantly reduced.
- Development: Babies who are carried are closer to people and can study facial expressions, they watch your mouth as you talk; they learn languages faster and become quickly familiar with body language.
- Affection: A baby who is carried receives significantly more kisses and reassuring pats on the bottom, than a child in a pram / pushchair.
- Crying: Just 3 hours per day of babywearing reduces infant crying significantly, and studies show that at 13 months, babies who have been in soft carriers regularly are significantly more likely to be securely attached than babies who have not.
- Practical: Babywearing is a godsend for parents with more than one child. It allows you the freedom to hold hands with one or two toddlers, whilst keeping baby close. Using public transport is easier, with no pushchair to fold up. Walks in the country where prams cannot go, over styles, through small gates etc. are a doddle with a baby in a carrier. Negotiating the isles in a shopping centre, winding through busy markets and going through an airport are all simplified in ways that you will not know until you try it!
- Fashion statement. Slings, Wraps and Baby carriers come in many different designs and colours and are available in many different types of materials, including silk, hemp, cotton, wool, fleece and linen. So there is a carrier for every occasion. (Warning they are addictive)
For all of the reason mentioned above (and more) Babywearing is growing ever increasingly in popularity and with that comes an overwhelming amount of choice… So what are the options…
Soft structured baby carriers, ring slings, stretchy wraps, woven wraps, pouch slings, podaegi, Mei Tais and hip seats…
Other carriers such as bag slings are not safe and banned in some countries, they do not keep babies chin off the chest and can compromise the airway (See T.I.C.K.S for the key tips for safe babywearing). There are also some main stream carriers that although relatively safe (if used correctly) and widely available, they dangle baby from the groin area in an ergonomically unnatural position; and then of course there are numerous other carriers that ARE optimal, offering a natural seated ‘M’ position for baby, comfort and support….. but which one??
There are literally hundreds of brands out there, what you choose will depend on your needs, age of child, ease of use and skill level. Don’t feel intimidated by the options, most are very easy to use and no more difficult than learning to collapse a pushchair!
It would take a whole new article just listing all the types of carrier in detail and listing all the reputable recommended brands. Finding the perfect carrier is like finding the perfect jeans, so the best place to start would be to pop along to a sling library and try out a variety of carriers, slings and wraps for free with a professional baby carrying consultant on standby to help answer any questions that you might have. You can even borrow one for a few weeks for a small fee (average cost £2 – £5 per week)
Farnham has its very own sling library; ran by a qualified babywearing consultant (Mish Meakin). The library boasts over 70 different carriers, slings and wraps. We meet alternate Tuesdays at ‘The Barn Café’ in Farnham, from 11am – 1pm. You can drop in anytime, you don’t have to make an appointment or come at the start of the session. The current hire fee at Farnham is £2.50 per week. The open library sessions are very informal and relaxed with many Mums (plus a few Dads) on hand to chat about all things baby; offering peer to peer support and friendship.
If you are not local to Farnham and would like details of your nearest sling library take a look on the Babywearing UK website: www.babywearing.co.uk/localsupport
[stextbox id=”tmk-box”]GET YOUR FACTS ON T.I.C.K.S HERE And for ANYONE thinking of carrying their baby in a sling, wrap or carrier please read T.I.C.K.S which is an industry approved set of rules for safe babywearing. [/stextbox]