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Saturday
Sep282013

How to babywear from birth to six months

I know a lot of mamas on boats right now who are pregnant, have recently given birth, or women who are trying to start a family while out sailing. Several women have asked me for various advice on babywearing so I thought I'd compile my resources here. This post covers babywearing from birth to about six months. Give me another five more months and I'll have part two, or ages six months to 1 year :)

Babywearing with a ring sling. Lyra is three days old.There are any number of ways to wear your baby. I started with a ring sling and a mei tai for when Lyra was a newborn. The best way to learn proper positioning is to learn from other parents who babywear or hire a babywearing consultant to help you in the early weeks of getting started. Look online to findbabywearing groups in your area. They often have lending libraries and frequent meetings where you can ask questions and get support. If you can't meet up in person, then there are plenty of online videos that show all kinds of ways to safely and correctly babywear.

Learn proper positioning

Image via www.safebabywearing.com

When you wear your newborn, make sure their legs stay in the froggy position. Their body will naturally make an "M" shape (see my paint-shop version on the right.) Their knees should be higher than their butt and their legs splayed like a frog.

Wearing Lyra in a ring sling at 2.5 weeks old.

If you wear your newborn in a ring sling it is okay to have their legs outside of the fabric. Here you can see that her butt is still lower than her knees, and her legs are splayed froggy style.

Wearing Lyra in a mei tai at 5 weeks old.If you wear your infant in a mei tai or a soft structured carrier (SSC), like a Tula or an Ergo, then you'll need to keep their legs inside the carrier for several months. They should still be in the froggy position against your chest.

Image via www.paxbaby.com

This image is a wonderful shot of how an infant's legs should be inside the carrier and frogged against the wearer's chest. Don't be afraid to slide your hands inside the carrier and bounce the baby down to get a good seat with their butt. Use your hands to make sure their little feet are in a naturally flexed, comfortable position, not twisted, or pointed down.

Wearing Lyra in a Tula baby carrier at 6 weeks.

I didn't start wearing Lyra in my Tula baby carrier until she was about six weeks old. This is only because I didn't have it until she was that old. If I had had it from the time of her birth I would have used it. Many baby carriers have an infant insert you can buy to facilitate wearing your newborn. I was worried about the insert being too hot in the Mexican heat, so I opted to roll a receiving blanket up instead and nestled it into the base of the carrier to help Lyra be up higher on my chest (her legs were still frogged, just resting on the blanket instead of the waist belt of the carrier.)

Wearing Lyra at 6 weeks in La Cruz, Mexico.Remember T.I.C.K.S.

Why do you need to boost your baby up with a receiving blanket? (Or use an infant insert when they are little?) The T.I.C.K.S. rules of babywearing will help you to understand why.

T = tight. The fabric of your sling or carrier should be tight enough to keep your baby right up against your body.

I = in view at all times. You should always be able to see your baby's face (in a front carry).

C = close enough to kiss. Your baby's head should always be close enough to kiss. Keep it as close as comfortable to your own chin.

K = keep (their) chin off their chest. Never let your baby's head curve down so their chin is forced into their chest and restricts breathing.

S = supported back. Read the important details of different ways to support your baby's back in each type of carry here.

For even more babywearing safety tips, check out this article by Babywearing International.

Wearing Lyra at 2 months old in San Blas, Nayarit, Mexico.

In the picture above Lyra is only two months. Her legs are still inside the carrier and comfortably frog legged against my chest; her head peaks up a bit from the top of the carrier.

Eric wearing Lyra at 3 months old in La Paz, Baja California Sur, Mexico.

At three months Lyra's legs are still inside the carrier, still frogged against Eric's chest. Her head is a little higher now as she continues to grow.

Wearing Lyra at 4 months at Marina La Paz.

At four months Lyra's head is noticeably starting to peak out of the carrier and she likes to swivel her head around and take everything in. Months 3 to 4 are a transition for your baby. She will slowly start to push her legs straight and fight you as you try to frog her legs and keep her legs inside the carrier. She wants to put her legs outside the fabric (as pictured above), but you can't do it until her legs have enough length to meet the width of the fabric panel. If she starts to continually push against the froggy position (but isn't fully ready for both legs out), then just frog one leg and extend the other. Do this modified position until your baby is big enough to extend both legs outside of the carrier comfortably.

Wearing Lyra at 5 months in Santa Rosalia, Baja California Sur, Mexico.

What a difference a month makes. At five months Lyra's head is almost fully above the top of the carrier and she is comfortable wearing her legs out of the fabric for long stretches at a time. The only problem? At five months Lyra is starting to get too heavy to wear comfortably for me in a front carry (at 5 months she is almost 15lbs). After about 45 minutes my lower back will start to hurt.

Wearing Lyra at 6 months in Puerto Escondido, Baja California Sur, Mexico.

By six months old I try to exclusively wear Lyra on my back (except for short jaunts.) Do yourself a favor and learn how to back carry. The video below is from when Cora was a baby and I wore an Ergo carrier. I still back carry the same way:

 

If my method of back carry doesn't work for you, find one that does. You can watch babywearing videos all day long on YouTube, so find a way that works for you and go for it. Learn how to do it completely on your own and you'll be amazed at the feeling of independence it brings you. There is something very "super hero" about it. You can go anywhere! Do anything! Or at least it feels like that to a new mom :)

Wearing Lyra in a solarveil ring sling at 5 months at Costa Baja Marina, in La Paz.

Consider getting a water sling (especially you sailors out there cruising in warm waters.) Etsy is full of options. Read the reviews and choose one that works for you.

Avoid forward facing carriers

Avoid forward facing carriers like the one they used in the movie, The Hangover. Though they are convenient for films (so the audience can see that cute baby's face), the are not the best option for your baby. Read here for info on hip dyspalasia and how to avoid it and read here for one mom's awful journey with treating her daughter's hip dysplasia.

If you really want your baby to face out more, consider using a ring sling or a wrap with a side carry, or buy an Ergo Baby Carrier, which allows you to do not only front and back carries, but a hip carry too.

If you are still set on wearing your baby forward facing in a baby carrier, then get an ergonomic one, like the Beco Gemini.

Affordable Babywearing

Infantino Ergonomic Baby Carrier

Babywearing can be expensive. But so can strollers. Some moms are attracted to forward facing carriers (like the Bjorn pictured above) because of the price. If you are on a budget, consider getting this Infantino Ergonomic Baby Carrier. At about $23.00 on Amazon Prime, the price is hard to beat and it is a truly ergonomic carrier. I have several friends who have sworn by its comfort and usability.

There are so many options

What I've presented above is the way I like to babywear. There are so many options available. I tend to like SSCs and ring slings. Many parents prefer to use stretchy wraps like the Moby for when their baby is an infant and then continue to wrap with more supportive fabrics as their baby grows. I love the beautiful wraps you can find at www.wovenwraps.com but I've never personally been able to get into wrapping.

Reader Comments (2)

9 months pregnant now and setting sail again in January with our new Sea Monkey. Thanks for the advice! :)

September 30, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterAshley Chapman

Wow Charlotte, You are an amazing woman. I just saw your sucking pads on the tula website and on ebay. Did you sell your design or are you still producing from the boat?

October 15, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterHeidi

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