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Upright, embraced tight

This article has been reposted with permission from the Luxmama Club & ParentPrep blog.

This article is the second part as follow-up from a previous post about my own personal baby wearing revelations which are common misconceptions amongst most first-time mothers. You can check out our third and last article in the series here.

The truth is that there are great carriers on the market today but also many "not so great" carriers. Furthermore, there are tried and tested safe positions to wear your babe but also a few raising some red flags when it comes to the optimal development of your baby, especially when being carried for long periods of time....

We have gathered baby wearing experts, Chantal Weis and Félicie Wietor to help us understand how we can safely use this powerful and amazing tool to improve our bonding and attachment with our babies while at the same time making life easier.

1. Marise Hyman: What inspired you to become a baby wearing consultant?

Chantal & Félicie:

We discovered baby wearing for the first time when we had our first babies. We loved carrying them. It was such a good feeling, having them close and safe with us, while continuing with our daily activities. Wearing/carrying our babies helped us to understand their needs. When we carried them, they were peaceful and happy, and that is how we knew that it was right for them.

Following on from this positive baby wearing experience, we wanted to learn more about baby wearing and the best way to do it. On the other hand, we also wanted to share our experience and knowledge with other parents to help them find a way to carry their babies and to make baby wearing more popular.

2. Marise Hyman: How does one become a baby wearing consultant and where did you obtain your qualification?

Chantal & Félicie:

We studied at baby wearing schools in Germany, Clauwi-Trageschule and France Porter son Enfant Tout Un Art (translation: "Carry your child, an art". We attended weekend seminars and had to pass both written and practical tests to be certified as "baby wearing consultants".

In addition, annual supervision is required to remain a certified baby wearing consultant.

3. Marise Hyman: In short, how are your sessions structured and what is the cost (for customers in Luxembourg)?

Chantal & Félicie:

A baby wearing session is an individual consultation consisting of two parts: a) We share basic information about wearing a baby which includes a lot of safety aspects, and b) We do practical training about how to correctly use a wrap or a baby carrier. We begin with a mannequin to practice first and only by the end of the session, will the mother's own baby be involved.

The first session usually lasts about two hours and costs around €45. Second or third sessions can be used to learn and practice a new way to use the carrier when the baby is older, or to choose a new carrier, if the old one doesn't fit anymore. These sessions are shorter (about 60-90 minutes) and cost between €25 and €35.

The wraps, ring sling and baby carriers that we use during the baby wearing session, can be borrowed for a short time to make sure that the chosen one is best for you.

4. Marise Hyman: How should the legs of a newborn be supported in an upright carrier?

Chantal & Félicie:

A spread-squat-position, also called the "frog position" is important to ensure optimal development of the hips.

In a baby carrier, wrap or ring sling, a baby's legs should be in a spread-squat-position. This means that the legs are a bit open and the baby's knees are higher than the baby’s bum. The end of the sling's fabric should fit right up to the hollow of the baby's knees.

A healthy spread-squat or splayed "frog" position.

In a baby carrier, the baby's legs are usually open wider than in a wrap. In this case, we recommend not to move thebaby's knees higher but to keep them on the same level as the baby's bum. Similarly to a wrap or sling, the fabric should be spread from the hollow of one knee to the hollow of the other. Baby carriers with an adjustable seat size between the baby's legs are much better than those with a fixed seat. The seat between the baby's legs should be able to adjust and widen so that babies of all ages can always adopt the anatomically correct splayed "frog" position which is so important for the development of young hips.

5. Marise Hyman: Why should a newborn spine be supported in a curved position when being worn in a baby carrier?

Chantal & Félicie:

A newborn’s and baby's spine is naturally rounded. It is best to maintain the spine's curved form when carrying the baby to avoid any pressure on the spine's muscles and ligaments which in turn could cause tension on the vertebra's discs and lead to poor blood circulation.

A rounded back is also essential for the baby to maintain the spread-squat-position and to stabilise the hips.

Starting from birth until a toddler can walk independently, his/her spine will gradually become straighter from the neck down to the pelvis as a result of the natural strengthening of the spine's muscles.

Therefore, in order to support this natural development of the spine, it is important that the baby's spine is curved in the wrap or baby carrier and practically speaking, this means that the area of the wrap/carrier/sling covering the baby's back should be flexible to allow for this:

  • The straps of a wrap should not cross over the baby's back, and

  • the straps of a baby carrier should not be fixed on the back panel of the carrier, but on the hip belt instead.

Another important aspect to remember is that even when a toddler can already walk and the spine is almost fully developed, it is still important that the baby´s back can curve when he/she is asleep and the muscles are relaxed.

6. Marise Hyman: What is the cradle position and why is it not recommended?

Chantal & Félicie:

The cradle position is the position your baby normally is in when being fed. The baby lies diagonally or near-horizontal in front of your belly and in a baby carrier, the baby will automatically tend to gravitate to the lowest point in the carrier and through movement of the wearer turn inwards towards the baby wearer’s body.

In summary, if not used correctly, the cradle carry bears a risk of positional asphyxiation and additionally it does not support healthy hip development:

  • Due to the fact that a newborn's spine is naturally curved (also called kyphosis), the baby will automatically face inwards and bend sideways around the wearer's body and in turn, the vertebra's discs will experience a lot of strain through shocks from the wearer’s movements.

  • The legs of the baby in a cradle position are not able to be in a spread-squat position which as mentioned before is best for optimal hip development.

  • Most slings designed only to cradle-carry, often hold the baby so low on the baby wearer’s body that any distress cannot be recognised immediately.

  • Unfortunately a lot of the cradle slings cover the baby's face completely. This is a potential death trap. The baby's face should always be in view.

  • And last but not least, when the baby falls asleep, there is a risk that the chin slumps forward on the chest and the baby can suffocate (positional asphyxiation) within a few minutes without making a sound.

The cradle carry conclusion according to the experts:

It is extremely difficult to carry secure in this position. Even when the parents make sure the baby get's enough oxygen, the legs of the baby are not in an ideal position.

Best practice instead, is upright, embraced tight...

Don't miss our next article, where we tackle other hairy subjects like front-faced carrying and the best way to choose a baby carrier with Félicie and Chantal.

More about the Author:

As mother of two darling babies, Certified International Maternity Institute Baby Planner Consultant, Holistic Pregnancy & Child Sleep Practitioner and Happiest Baby on the Block Educator, Marise Hyman provides worldwide maternity and sleep coaching for expecting/future/new parents through Marise Hyman Maternity Coaching – setting them up for success, so they can sail into their new lives with confidence!

She is also the founder of the Luxmama Club & ParentPrep offering a variety of social and educational events in Luxembourg designed so parents can make the most of becoming and being a new parent in the modern world today.

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