Here at NBS we are huge fans of baby wearing, the long list of benefits from creating a closer bond with your little one to letting you go about your day with your hands free are enough to make any parent fall in love with baby wearing and eager to get started! But what age can you start using a baby carrier for your little one and is it safe to start when they are still a newborn? The answer is yes, you can use a baby carrier as soon as your baby is born. Yes parents, that means you can add your baby carrier to your hospital bag packing list.
It is important to note however, if you do plan to start baby wearing straight away that you get the right type of baby carrier that is suitable for a newborn baby. Check the owners manual of your baby carrier to make sure your baby meets the minimum weight requirement as this can vary between models. There are so many different types of baby carriers so make sure that you do your research before hand so you choose a baby carrier that is suitable for newborns. We advise you opt for one that either comes with a newborn insert, or is designed specifically for newborns that encircles a very young baby’s body and gives wide enough support to the baby’s bottom.
A newborn baby is just being called out to be cuddled and snuggled all day long, well baby carrying means you can get cuddles whilst still doing those important jobs. But what are the other benefits of carrying your newborn baby?
- Holding your baby in a carrier can facilitate ‘Kangaroo Care’, or skin to skin contact, which has a myriad of benefits for your newborn such as: stabilising body temperature, improved heart and lung function, and supporting breastfeeding.
- Baby wearing helps emulate the environment of your womb. Most newborn babies love experiencing a feeling of safe containment that mimics the experience of being in the womb
- Carrying your baby can initiate the release of oxytocin, in both males and females, which strengthens bonding and emotional well-being.
- It has been shown that babies who are carried cry less.
- Baby wearing allows for on the go feedings.
- Proper positioning can help promote healthy spine development.
- Positive emotional experiences with your baby, such as eye contact and talking to your little one while they are in a carrier, provide the foundation for brain development and social skills.
- The upright position and slight movement provided while your newborn is in a baby carrier can naturally massage pressure points related to digestion and assist with your baby’s digestion.
Safe baby carrying for newborns
Nothing is more precious to you than your baby so we know there is nothing more important than ensuring you and your little one feels safe when you use a baby carrier. Newborns need that little bit more care when they are in a carrier and there are a few things parents need to watch out for when using a carrier.
We would highly recommend getting in a bit of practice with your baby carrier before your little one arrives so you know how it works. You can practice with a pillow, doll or simply just on it’s own so you’re a carrier pro when the time comes.
All-important neck support
A baby’s head accounts for one-third of their total body weight when they are born, that’s quite heavy! Their neck muscles struggle to hold the weight of their head unaided and it takes several months for these muscles to develop strong enough. This means neck support from your carrier is essential especially in their first 5 months.
Try not to dress your baby in too many layers when they are in the baby carrier so they don't overheat, the baby carrier it’self offers lots of protection from the elements and they will also feel the heat from your body to keep them toasty.
Always make sure you can properly supervise your baby in the baby carrier. Never allow any fabric or clothing to cover your child so you can’t see their face. Keeping them upright and in a high carrying position on the caregiver is very important. This helps to mimic the way you would hold a new baby in your arms while giving baby enough space for you to put 1-2 adult fingers between his chin and chest to allow your little one to breathe easily.
Front-facing baby carrying
Very young children do not need to face outwards; they will be more comfortable sleeping the whole time you carry them around. This way they can rest their head on your chest and sleep comfortably, listening to your heartbeat and feeling your skin against them. Your baby needs strong neck muscles to sit in a front-facing baby carrier. This is why we recommend waiting until your baby is five months old before using a front-facing baby carrier.
Your baby will have minimal strength and control over their body and so will need full support for their head and spine. Position them facing you (chest to chest), with their face visible and head high on the flat part of your chest ‘close enough to kiss’. Upright positioning is often easiest to get that safe feeling and supportive. Being held safely upright on your chest helps soothe symptoms of reflux or colic, and is a safer place for daytime naps than lying flat in a room on their own. the following T.I.C.K.S. safety guidelines are a great checklist which you can use to check for safe, supportive, comfortable positioning in any sling or carrier.