As a new mom, you are probably well-acquainted with the notion of not having enough appendages to get things done while also carrying around your bundle of joy. From one-handed diaper changes on another kiddo, to one-handed cooking and, of course, a very important yet oh-so-careful one-handed coffee pour. And if picking up socks with feet was an Olympic sport, moms would have taken the gold a long time ago.
Having your hands free as a mom is invaluable. Luckily, there are several babywearing products on the market allowing you to keep your little one close while freeing up your hands to go about your day. Whether you’re caring for other kids, working, shopping, or doing something for yourself, wearing a baby helps you get more stuff accomplished!
Babywearing Tips From Two Experts
Not all babywearing devices are going to fit your lifestyle – literally and figuratively. Many are hot, heavy, bulky, or simply too difficult to use. The best baby carrier for you should make your life easier, not harder.
To get the skinny on the good, bad, and best in all things babywearing, we sat down with tow moms who also double as maternal health experts. We asked them their opinions onthe best baby carrier in terms of safety, comfort, and one that will also ensure your postural wellness.
Meet the Two Babywearing Experts in Our Interview
Dr. Deb Dlug
Dr. Deb Dlug is the founder of Well Adjusted, LLC, a company dedicated to helping patients take control of their health to live happier and fuller lives through chiropractic practices.
Janelle is a postural alignment specialist. She helps women discover the connection between postpartum pain and misalignment to help them heal.
Many women deal with pain due to postural problems when they are postpartum. Janelle gives exercises and to new moms to help them manage pain. More importantly, she helps them correct the root of the problem by using the Egoscue Method. This method uses a series of gentle exercises and stretches to help moms return balance and symmetry to their bodies.
The Experts’ Advice on Babywearing
Take Caution Before Jumping Into Your Routine and Introducing Babywearing
For many on-the-go mamas, the urge to jump back into their pre-baby routine can be strong. It’s important to remember your body just went through a huge transformation! I mean, you not only grew a baby, but you also developed a new organ (we’re talkin’ about that placenta!) at the same time.
“Your body isn’t where you left it and it isn’t going to bounce back in just a few days.” — Janelle Gibbs, Postural Alignment Therapist
With other postpartum concerns and healing to consider, improper posture can make the following postpartum symptoms even worse, so you have to take babywearing seriously! You don’t want to make these worse:
- Diastasis recti
- Neck pain
- Back pain
- Damage to your cesarean scar
*If you are a new mom dealing with one of the conditions, it’s essential you consult with a physician before wearing a baby. Your health is incredibly important as a new mom and you must avoid additional pressure to your neck or spine.
Before You Dive Into Babywearing, Do These:
Wearing a baby may seem like it’s nothing but beneficial, but there are a few things you need to keep in mind before you dive right in:
- Be Aware: Take note of the your baby carrier’s weight measurements. The best baby carrier for your frame and size of baby may be different than someone else’s.
- Know Your Baby: Does your baby have good head control? You don’t want to rush into wearing a baby in the forward position or on the back until they have good head control. You also want to make sure their hips are positioned safely.
- Check Your Posture: Do you have good or bad posture? If you’re the one that’s going to be wearing your babywearing device, you must recognize what your posture looks like, to begin with. Wearing a baby is very demanding on your body. Iif your posture is already compromised, this can lead to a lot of pain and discomfort down the line.
- Consider Time: Think about how long you want to wear your baby and make sure the carrier you choose can safely accommodate them for an extended time if necessary.
“Wearing a baby is very demanding on your body. If your posture is already compromised, this can lead to a lot of pain and discomfort down the line. This is the last thing a sleep-deprived mom needs.” — Janelle Gibbs, Postural Alignment Therapist
Whether or not you deal with any postpartum conditions, think about the ergonomics of whatever baby carrier you choose. Ergonomics are as important for the health, comfort, and safety of your baby as they are for you.
“It’s important to be mindful of your posture when babywearing…our bodies can take a while to heal and it’s different for each individual.” — Dr. Deb Dlug
If you aren’t wearing the best baby carrier for you, there are going to be a few telltale signs:
- Aches and pains
- Muscle strain
- Inability to stand up straight
- Strap slides down
- Adjusting the straps doesn’t help your comfort level
- One shoulder is lower than the other (check the mirror!)
- Misalignment (Close your eyes and bring your feet together – notice a shift in bodyweight?)
“Take the time throughout the day to take deep breaths and feel your ribs expand, bring those shoulders back, and feel your diaphragm and pelvic floor.” — Dr. Deb Dlug
Fix Postural Issues When Babywearing
If you’re reading this and have been having postural issues while wearing a baby for months, don’t panic. Your spine isn’t doomed and you didn’t make a huge mistake.
But there are things you can do to strengthen your back and correct your posture so you can continue babywearing pain-free.
- Make sure the weight is evenly distributed.
- Ensure your shoulders, hips, and feet are working as well as possible before and while wearing a baby.
- Exercise proper breathing before, during, and after babywearing. Using your diaphragm correctly helps activate your core muscles.
- Practice basic yoga poses like child’s pose, cat/cow, and bringing your arms over your head with gentle side bending. These can help open your chest, expand your ribs and move your pelvis. (All excellent for babywearing!)
Practice Babywearing Exercises to Strengthen Your Body
Below are a variety of recommended exercises from Postural Alignment Therapist, Janelle Gibbs. Completing these exercises regularly can strengthen your spine and keep your posture aligned so you can wear your baby with ease and allow for proper babywearing safety:
- Stand facing a mirror with your feet pointed straight ahead. Place your fingertips into the pad of each hand and point your thumb straight out. This hand position is imperative to the exercise being done correctly. It is called the “golfer’s grip.”
- Squeeze your shoulder blades together backward and bring your arms out to your sides at shoulder level.
- With your palms facing downward, circle up and forward for the repetitions specified. With your palms facing upward, circle up and back for 40 and repeat.
- Remember to keep your feet straight and your shoulder blades squeezed together.
- Lie on your back with your feet on the floor.
- Cross one ankle/foot over to the opposite knee, just above the knee.
- Lift the foot that is still on the floor up until your calf is parallel to the ground and the knee is bent at a 90-degree angle.
- Relax your shoulders and put your arms out to the sides, palms up.
- As you pull the knee with your ankle on it toward you, press the other knee away from you.
- Hold this position for one minute, then switch sides and repeat.
- Stand with your back against a wall with feet and knees hip-width apart and feet pointed straight.
- Walk your feet away from the wall while sliding your body down at the same time.
- You will be “seated” in an invisible chair, with your knees bent to 105 degrees.
- Your hips are just slightly higher than your knees; your ankles are slightly ahead of your knees.
- Your lower back should be completely flat against the wall.
- Your arms can hang down to your sides, or rest your hands gently on your lap.
- Hold for 2 minutes. Keep the weight in your heels, don’t press forward on your toes.
- Lie on your back with one leg extended and the other leg bent and pulled up toward your chest.
- Clasp your hands behind the bent knee.
- Keep the foot on the floor pointed straight up toward the ceiling and your thigh muscles relaxed.
- Circle the lifted foot one way for 40 times, then reverse direction for the same number of reps. Make sure the knee stays absolutely still with movement coming from the ankle and not the knee.
- For the point/flexes, bring the toes back toward the shin to flex, then reverse the direction to point the foot forward 40 more times.
- Switch legs and repeat.
If you make the adjustments mentioned above and you don’t feel relief, it might be time to bring in outside expertise. A chiropractor or perinatal fitness instructor is a great resource for hands-on support to help you course-correct your alignment and find relief in your babywearing.
How to Choose the Best Baby Carrier For You
When making any decision for your baby, safety is always top of mind. When it comes to wearing a baby, buying the baby carrier your bestie uses or the one you saw on a mommy blog may not be the one for you. If it doesn’t fit your lifestyle, frame, or baby correctly, that baby carrier could do more harm than good.
According to Dr. Deb Dlug, when looking for the best baby carrier for you, beyond what is ergonomically best, consider the following.
- What is your baby able to do?
- Can your baby hold their head up?
- How much does your baby weigh?
- How old is your baby?
- When do you want to use a babywearing device? While grocery shopping, hiking, walking, cooking, or breastfeeding (yes, that’s a thing!)?
- How long do you want to wear a baby?
You must also position the baby correctly in the carrier to prevent injury or pressure. As with anything for little ones, there is a lot to consider.
Picking the best baby carrier for you is not a one-size-fits-all operation, that’s for sure!
In terms of what babywearing brands are best for you and your baby, there are a few well-known and respected options for you to consider in your search:
- Ergobaby – versatile to fit all different body types
- CuddleBug Baby Wrap – smaller in size and works for moms with small frames
- Boba Wrap – the no-frills baby wrap
- Baby Bjorn – the OG baby carrier, good for front-carrying
When It’s Time to Readjust Your Babywearing
“Listening to your body is key. If the pain that you’re experiencing is too much, then it is time to go back to the drawing board and figure out what the pain is telling you. Pain is a signal to the body that something is off.” — Janelle Gibbs, Postural Alignment Therapist
It takes your body a long time to heal and adapt, especially in the postpartum period. If you find yourself experiencing more:
- Neck aches
- Back aches
- Shoulder aches
- Lower back pain
You may find it helpful to start from square one and build your strength from there. Babies can grow quickly, and needing to change baby carriers is perfectly normal!
You also don’t have to wear a baby for hours at a time. A few minutes of babywearing per day can increase how long you wear your baby later on. But, remember, if the headaches and pain are too much, consider switching baby carriers.
Find a Mom Tribe To Help!
“Don’t be afraid to ask for help! You don’t want to wear them improperly that could hurt you and your little one.” — Dr. Deb Dlug
If you need a little more help, support, information, or inspiration on babywearing, pregnancy, and the postpartum period, download Expectful’s app! You’ll find tons of useful information and support, as well as incredible meditations to help you enjoy your pregnancy and early baby days.