I’ve heard many a parent say; “My baby doesn’t like to be in the carrier so I just gave up, she just screams even more when she’s in there.” The thing about babywearing is that it’s a skill, it’s not the same as buying an item of clothing and making sure it fits and then you’re good to go. There’s a lot more at play.
Firstly, we have Mom or Dad who is usually sleep deprived by the time they give babywearing a try for the first time. And then we have baby, who is usually around 4-8 weeks old and very temperamental, as babies are at that age. Throw in a long piece of fabric or a brand new baby carrier that you’ve never used before and BOOM – tears all round!
So today I’m going to give you 5 tips for a happy babywearing experience.
1. Don’t try to wear a hungry baby
Lesson number 1: Never try to put a hungry baby in a carrier unless you want your chest to bleed from their razor sharp finger nails. A hungry baby will never settle, and if you try to settle them while they’re even a little bit hungry, they’re going to let you know about it. Offer more milk even if you aren’t sure, just incase. That way you know baby will be ready for the long haul if he/she decides to fall asleep. My son would often sleep for 3 hours straight during his first few months. When he was small enough, I could even prop myself up with pillows on the couch and get some shut eye myself while he napped on my chest, the best!
2. Make sure baby isn’t overheating
This one is especially for those parents who are using a stretchy wrap during the first few months – and even more especially during a South African summer. Small babies cannot regulate their own body temperature, so if they’re snuggled up against you, dressed in a baby grow and then wrapped in layers of fabric, chances are they’re going to get a little claustrophobic. Keep checking on baby to make sure they aren’t too sweaty and have enough room to move and breath.
3. Make sure they are wearing appropriate clothing
Those denim jeans are cute, I know. Especially the ones for newborns. But seriously, they are not comfy for your little baba, and even more so if you’re going to try and put them inside a carrier. They are going to bunch up and may even cause chafing on your babies soft skin. If you plan to wear your baby, try to dress them in a soft, breathable onesie, so that there isn’t room for a t-shirt to get bunched up behind their back or shorts to bunch up behind their knees.
4. Get moving and humming
As soon as you’ve got baby safely and comfortably in position in your carrier, get moving! The natural movement of just walking around your house will calm your baby – remember its the same movement that they’re used to when they were living inside the womb for all those months. You don’t need to do any crazy bouncing, just keep it calm and natural. If your baby is fussing you can also try humming. I had a very niggly little guy to start with and I found that if I hummed while walking around the house with him in the carrier, he would eventually start to concentrate on my voice and my breath and he would calm down and fall asleep (granted he wasn’t hungry again by that stage!)
5. Make sure the wearer is comfy too
If you aren’t comfy, your baby can feel it. They are super intuitive to your emotions as well as your physical discomfort, so make sure you have a carrier that you’re confident to use at home as well as when out and about.
And the unofficial number 6:
Practice makes perfect! Like I said in the beginning, babywearing really is a skill and when mastered, you’ll reap the benefits in so many ways.