"I've 2 hands free" said no pram-pushing mama ever!
This article has been reposted with permission from the Luxmama Club & ParentPrep blog.
In the last part of our three-part series on baby wearing, certified baby wearing consultants Chantal Weis and Félicie Wietor continue to answer our questions.
1. Marise Hyman: Thanks so much for taking the time to answer our questions. Could you please tell us a bit about yourselves?
I am a Luxembourgish mum of 3 girls born in 01/2008, 06/2010 and 02/2013. Before I became a mother, I was a teacher in the Luxembourgish “enseignement modulaire”. I worked with teens who had learning and also often, behavioural difficulties.
Before becoming pregnant with my second daughter I decided to save my energy by instead educating my own child as I was often left without any enough for my own family.
Currently, I am a stay at home mum. I do a lot of volunteer work and also provide baby wearing consulting. In my spare time, I love to knit, crochet or sew something for my little ones or read a good book.
With the birth of my first daughter, I received a wrap as a gift. It took me a couple of weeks before I even dared to try and carry my baby in it. She was so small and the wrap so long... Unfortunately at that time, there were no baby carrying experts available.
Slowly but surely, I started to feel more comfortable using the wrap. With the birth of my second daughter I had bought another, shorter wrap which enabled me to wear her on my back more easily.
At that moment my addiction with wraps started. I wanted to try different carriers, new brands, different fabrics and more tying methods. Then I enrolled at the baby wearing school in Germany in 2011, became certified in 2012 and in order to gain an even deeper knowledge, I also studied at PSETUA in France in 2014.
I am a midwife and daycare mother. I have 2 children aged 6 and 3 years old. Although I have learned a few things about baby wearing during my midwife studies, it was only with my first child that I had realised how important baby wearing can be for both parents and babies. My son was a high-need-baby, born preterm and carrying him helped me a lot to calm him and to have both hands free.
I wanted to learn more about baby wearing and at the same time help other parents to enjoy carrying their children. I then enrolled in a baby wearing-school in Germany "Clauwi-Trageschule" in 2010 and qualified in 2011 with a certificate as "baby wearing consultant".
After the birth of my daughter, I stopped working as a midwife to be able to spend more time with my children. Currently I work as daycare mother and also provide baby wearing sessions. I regularly attend professional trainings to update my knowledge and to be able to offer high-quality baby wearing sessions. I also have skills in Kinesthetic Infant Handling and I work as a volunteer at La Leche League in Luxembourg.
2. Marise Hyman: It seems that you've both found your true passion! Could you please give us some guidance on the criteria to consider when choosing a baby carrier. Is it advisable to buy one already during pregnancy?
Chantal & Félicie:
Choosing an appropriate baby carrier is comparable to buying a pair of shoes. To ensure that it is comfortable for you and the baby, it is best to wait until your baby is born so the carrier can be properly fitted with your baby in it. But on the other hand, we also completely understand that parents are exited and want to prepare for their baby's arrival! Parents want to ensure that they've bought everything, so they can only focus on resting, bonding and breastfeeding once baby has arrived.
Therefore, if parents do choose to buy a carrier during pregnancy, there are a few key aspects to consider, to avoid disappointment:
A good baby carrier should be made from the same type of fabric than a baby carrying wrap. It should not be stretchy in length but should still allow for stretching in width. This is important to allow a curved spine for baby while at the same time offering enough support. The younger the baby, the more important this is.
The carrier should be adjustable to safely fit your baby's growing proportions from birth and onwards.
Whichever carrier you choose, look for a carrier that holds your child in a position you would naturally carry them in your arms, in front or on your hip (always a rounded spine and legs in spread squatting position).
Most carrier manufacturers list weight limits for their carriers, but there is often a significant discrepancy between the published weight limit and what a particular user finds comfortable.
If you and your partner will alternate carrying your baby, shoulder straps are more user friendly than buckles as buckles requires readjustment each time to fit the person carrying the baby.
3. Marise Hyman: What are the main reasons why a front facing carrier is not recommended?
Chantal & Félicie:
There are three main reasons:
Front faced carrying often leads to over-stimulation of the baby. He/she is forced to face the outside world and experience continuous stimulation. An over-stimulated baby can be restless, stressed and could often cause the baby to cry after being carried. On the contrary, when a baby is facing inwards, he/she has the choice to turn the head aside and look around when feeling curious and at any time as the need may rise, the baby can return facing inwards or make eye contact with the wearer when seeking comfort. The baby can therefore regulate the amount of stimulation he/she experiences.
Furthermore, the positioning of the baby in a front facing carrier is not natural. The back is not curved and instead is forced to be straight or even hollow. In this position the muscles of the back are being stretched asymmetrically, the vertebra's discs are under pressure and the blood circulation of the discs is being compromised.
Additionally, the legs are often not supported enough. The carrier's base is not providing support from knee to knee which in turn causes poor blood circulation in the legs. As the baby is not in a spreadsquat-position, the hips are under pressure.
From around three/four months however, most babies start to resist being carried facing inwards as they naturally become more curious at this age. This is then the perfect time to start carrying your baby on your back in a woven wrap. With a baby carrier, on the other hand, it is recommended to wait until your baby's neck control is more stable, mostly around four/five months. If you are too scared to put your baby on your back at this stage, another alternative position is with baby on your hip. This way, your baby can see more, but is still able to make eye contact with you.
4. Marise Hyman: Which types of carriers do you recommend, are the best to be used from day one after birth, for a very long time afterwards and for frequent everyday use?
Chantal & Félicie:
A woven wrap adjusts easily to the baby and the person who carries. You can use it from the first day onwards until your child no longer requires carrying.
Not everybody feels comfortable or secure with a couple of meters of fabric. So if you want to use a carrier you can use for a long time, choose one that you can adjust to your baby.
The width of the fabric between baby's legs, the height of the fabric over baby's back and the width of the fabric near baby's neck should all be adjustable.
Whichever carrier you choose, look for a carrier that supports baby in a position you would naturally carry him/ her in your arms. That is in front or on your hip (upright, curved spine and with the legs in a spread-squatting position).
5. Marise Hyman: How long, during one session can a baby safely be worn in a carrier.
Chantal & Félicie:
The baby can be worn in a carrier as long as he/she and the wearer are both comfortable. When you carry your baby you can immediately see and feel when something is troubling him or her. Your baby will show you when he/she has had enough. And your body will tell you when to stop. Some people, suffering from severe back pain, can only carry for short periods of around half an hour while others still find it comfortable even after three hours.
Keep in mind that being carried offers a mini-workout to your baby. He or she has to continuously re-balance his body in response to your movements.
Don't forget to offer something to drink or breastfeed him/her when being carried for a long period.
6. Marise Hyman: There are many mass-marketed, hugely well-known upright carriers on the market today that do not in fact support the spine and legs properly as you've explained. Are these safe to use? What are the implications when they are used.
Chantal & Félicie:
These upright carriers are safe in the sense that they will not kill your baby. Carrying your baby for very short periods and on rare occasions in this type of position will not cause any extreme harm.
On the other hand, carrying a baby often and for long periods in this position bears a considerable risk for the baby’s development as the spine is not well supported and the legs are not in the optimal spread-squatting position.
With that being said, even in this case your baby still benefits from your presence, your smell, your voice and your stimulation...
A new and wonderful resource is the newly created website listing of profiles, location and contact details of independent baby wearing consultants in Luxembourg:
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.