Marks Daily Apple
Serving up health and fitness insights (daily, of course) with a side of irreverence.
5 Feb

Wearing a Baby: What To Do and What Not To Do

Baby WearingLast week, I made the case for wearing and carrying your babies, highlighting the considerable evidence of benefit of the practice. Today, I’m going to discuss what to look for when you carry a baby. I’ll also explain what not to do, as well as give a brief rundown of the unresolved topics. Some people might balk at the idea of “learning” how to carry or wear a baby. After all, we’ve been carrying and wearing small, defenseless pudgy humans for millions of years without a blog or a book telling us how to do it. What’s changed to make us suddenly need it?

Not much has changed, actually. Back in the days before widely disseminated, publicly available child-rearing information, we had mothers, aunts, grannies, cousins, plus their male counterparts, to help us out. They’d learned from someone else, they’d done it themselves, and now they were there to show and tell the next batch of parents how to do things. They were the blogs and the books and the experts. It was a culture of baby wearing, too. It permeated the environment. There were no strollers; this is just what was done. You weren’t “expected” to wear your kid. There just wasn’t any other option, and so you knew how to do it.

Today, in the States and most other Western countries, it’s a stroller culture. I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with strollers, mind you. It’s just that millions of adults become parents without ever knowing that baby wearing is even an option. That needs to change.

Although it’s been years since I’ve handled my own infants, and my grown-up kids haven’t produced any of their own for me to tinker with, I know a little something about the subject. I have fairly extensive baby-wrangling experience. While it’s years removed from the present, I still find this an interesting topic because it’s yet another example of how we moderns can learn from the past.

First, let’s start with some “universal truths.” Baby-wearing-and-carrying methodology can be a hotly contested area of study, but I think everyone can agree with the following.

What’s Good

Generally, the higher up on your body the baby is, the easier it’ll be on your back. If you’ve ever done a front squat, you’ll know how much torso strength supporting a weight in front of your body requires. You also know that allowing your elbows to sag and the bar to droop down makes staying upright hard, and it renders the rep nearly impossible to complete. Think of the baby as a barbell. Don’t let the baby droop down.

The closer your baby is to you, the easier it’ll be on your body. Same concept as above applies: keeping a weight close to you makes it lighter.

Supporting the baby’s head. A newborn baby is a weird cartilaginous thing, all bendy and floppy. Babies don’t have the strength to support the disproportionately large head lolling around on top of their scrawny bodies. Whether you’re carrying or wearing the baby, make sure to support the head.

Avoiding excessive chin tucking. The head can go too far forward, too. If that happens and the chin rests firmly against the chest, a baby’s oxygen supply may get cut off. Make sure you can slip a couple fingers between the chin and chest (kinda like checking for a dog collar’s tightness).

Keeping it tight. As mentioned above, maintaining a snug-fitting carrier will keep the baby closer to you and reduce strain on your body, but it will also keep the baby from slumping. A nice way to check if the carrier is snug enough is to press on the kid’s back. If the kid moves toward you, the carrier isn’t snug enough.

Maintaining line of sight. Make sure you can always see your baby. If the baby’s in the front, you shouldn’t have to brush aside any fabric to see him. If the baby’s on a back carrier, you should be able to look over your shoulder and see him. On that note, don’t cover your baby’s head in fabric.

Keeping a supported back. Don’t let a baby slump forward into C-shaped hyperflexion and don’t let the spine drift into hyper extension of the lower. Keep things supported (babies will naturally gravitate toward a slight C-shape).

Frog stance. A baby’s knees should be above his butt, at around 90-100 degree flexion, with legs spread. Like a frog, or, like the bottom of a squat. The butt and upper hamstrings should be supported, because a little baby can’t be expected to keep his legs up on his own.

What’s Bad

Dangling, straight legs. Babies aren’t meant to hang ramrod straight. The only reason a worn baby’s legs would be straight is if he were only held up by his crotch without any butt or hamstring support. According to the International Hip Dysplasia Institute, babies with dangling, straight legs are at risk of developing hip dysplasia.

Intense exercise. I don’t care if you saw some guy doing kipping pullups while wearing his kid in a Baby Bjorn and it looked really sweet. Don’t perform intense exercise while wearing your baby. Don’t sprint, don’t run, don’t play on a trampoline.

Getting comfortable with bad form. Just like beginners to weight lifting can get away with poor form when they’re just lifting the bar, you can get away with inefficient carrying and wearing methods when your babies are just ten or fifteen pounds. Once that kid starts to hit the 20, 25 pound range, though, you will pay the price for improper form. You might stop carrying altogether when all you really need is a different carrier or a better method, and then your kid will suffer.

Using a wrap, sling, or carrier without knowing how. Some of the carriers are simple, but others take some instruction and know-how. This is your baby’s life we’re talking about; don’t create your own method of wrapping a baby without knowing what you’re doing. Don’t wing it.

Failing to heed “What’s Good.” Do that stuff. Seriously.

Points of Contention

Not everyone can agree on everything.

Inward Facing versus Outward Facing

I’ve heard it said that worn or carried babies should be facing outward so that they can see what you’re seeing and get sensory stimulation from the outside world. After all, one of the downsides of exclusive stroller living is that the kid never gets to see much of the world. Facing your child outward would seem to take care of this issue pretty conclusively.

I’ve also heard that outward facing babies get too much stimulation, that for a budding sensory system the sights of the scary new world might be excessive and even damaging. Think of the principle of acute vs. chronic stress. For a tiny baby with a couple weeks or months under his belt, the simple (to us) act of looking around is an incredibly stimulating event. Almost everything they see – a traffic light, a dog, a tree, a passerby, a store sign, a fence – is entirely novel. They don’t even have a way to intellectually process what they’re seeing. They just see these amazing bright colorful images. It’s a bit of a stress, in a way, because it’s so new, and I can see the argument for limiting visual stimulation.

There’s also the fact that the natural position of a baby is the frog stance, where the knees are in 90-100 degrees flexion (so knees above butt) and the legs are somewhat spread apart (whatever’s comfortable). An inward facing baby can draw his legs up against the parent and straddle her. If the kid is outward facing in a carrier, reaching that froggy squat stance could be tough without the parent’s body to brace against. His legs may just dangle and his butt and hips won’t get any support.

Since an outward facing baby’s limbs will be further away from the parent than the limbs of an inward facing baby, the former position may be harder on the parent’s lower back.

I think a great compromise is to wear the baby on your back facing forward. That way, the baby gets plenty of opportunities to take in the outside world while reserving the ability to bury his face in your shoulder if it gets to be a bit much. The legs are supported, the froggy-style simulated squat is promoted, and the back is an arguably easier way to support weight (consider that a person’s back squat ability is generally greater than their front squat ability). Plus, Esther Gokhale, my go-to source for all things healthy posture-related, prefers the back carriers. Most evidence I’ve seen suggests that traditional cultures tended to favor wearing babies on the back, probably because it allowed the parent to keep up with work, though it definitely varies.

Bag Slings

The bag sling is exactly what it sounds like: a sling slung over the shoulder with a compartment in the bottom for the baby. They appear to be the simplest method of wearing a baby – you essentially just sling it over your shoulder and drop the kid in – but several safety concerns have been raised. To summarize from that link:

1. Bag slings are “triangular,” with a flat bottom and two sides that converge. This effectively closes the baby in, possibly restricting air flow, and if a baby turns his head to either side, his face will be pressed up against the fabric.

2. The further the baby sinks into the depths of the bag, the more the top closes. This could prevent the parent from keeping a watchful eye on the baby.

3. If the top of the bag is closed, air flow will be disrupted. The baby may overheat or asphyxiate unless the bag is outfitted with mesh.

4. The design of a bag often promotes the chin-to-chest position that we want to avoid.

Some bag slings have even been subject to recall notices following infant deaths. Of course, plenty of parents have used bag slings without an issue. If you use one, just be extra careful and don’t let the little one sag too low.

As I said, Carrie and I never did the sling or baby carrier thing. We were the carriers. So I can’t give you my honest opinion on what works and what doesn’t when it comes to carriers, slings, and other things, because I don’t know for sure. What I can do is give a basic rundown and then direct you to dedicated online resources that should help you make the choice.

That will have to wait til next time, though, because this post is already lengthy. Until then, take care and be sure to leave a comment. Did I miss any tips, make any mistakes? Let us all know!

You want comments? We got comments:

Imagine you’re George Clooney. Take a moment to admire your grooming and wit. Okay, now imagine someone walks up to you and asks, “What’s your name?” You say, “I’m George Clooney.” Or maybe you say, “I’m the Clooninator!” You don’t say “I’m George of George Clooney Sells Movies Blog” and you certainly don’t say, “I’m Clooney Weight Loss Plan”. So while spam is technically meat, it ain’t anywhere near Primal. Please nickname yourself something your friends would call you.

  1. Must stop reading post… Try to resist… Urge to buy an f-ing minivan too strong… Help…

    Groktimus Primal wrote on February 5th, 2013
    • Family with a van = ok.

      Single guy with a van = creepy.

      Kreiger’s van (from Archer) = funny.

      That is a fine line.

      Paleo Bon Rurgundy wrote on February 5th, 2013
    • I’m in the market for a new mini-van. (Really!) Those babies (ha!) are awesome. Carry 7 of your closest friends or take out the seats and you’ve got a covered truck.

      Amy wrote on February 5th, 2013
    • Saw this in my inbox from Journalwatch this am Mark and thought you (and your’ readers) would be interested. Its from the BMJ just published reg CVD and saturated fat intake from from the 1966–1973 Sydney Diet Heart Study which were analyzed for the first time. If only this data had been published early enough to call Key’s conclusions into question.

      joe wrote on February 6th, 2013
  2. I want to borrow a baby to wear.

    Joy Beer wrote on February 5th, 2013
    • Making your own is pretty straightforward

      Ion Freeman wrote on February 5th, 2013
      • haha

        lockard wrote on February 5th, 2013
      • lol

        Onge wrote on February 5th, 2013
      • Well, yeah, unless you’re well past that point in your life! I was wishing the same thing.

        Sara wrote on February 5th, 2013
        • Exactly.

          Joy Beer wrote on February 6th, 2013
      • +1

        bjjcaveman wrote on February 5th, 2013
      • You probably have the tools around the house, too.

        Amy wrote on February 5th, 2013
      • For some people.

        kiki wrote on February 10th, 2013
  3. “A newborn baby is a weird cartilaginous thing, all bendy and floppy.” This statement is why every guy I know who has yet to have a baby themselves refuses to hold them.

    When my nephew was born, I literally put small dents in the back of his head just by holding his head in my hand with my fingers spread. Luckily they went away, but I had a good five minutes of sheer terror thinking I had permanently disfigured him. Bullet dodged!

    Susie wrote on February 5th, 2013
  4. This is my commute — a five-month-old in a baby björn on the subway (with ear protection.) He has a little hat, but New York City has had several windy days in the teens and twenties. His face gets pretty cold — the rest of him is under my coat — but his mood stays pretty good, although he may squawk a little when we first step outside. He generally falls asleep if the wind’s not blowing.

    Ion Freeman wrote on February 5th, 2013
    • Have you considered an ergo carrier? Bjorns don’t keep baby’s legs and hips in alignment, and they are rough on both your back and babys…the ergo also comes with a hood you can pull up when baby falls asleep, my 5 month old sleeps for hours under there!

      Kristin wrote on February 5th, 2013
      • We own both. I’d completely forgotten about the bitter brand struggles.

        ion freeman wrote on February 5th, 2013
        • It really isn’t about the brand struggles, so much about the supportiveness and weight positioning (both yours and the baby). Baby’s legs need to be spread wide enough and your back will thank you for some proper support also.

          Mind you, I’m not the original commenter, nor am I an ergo fan (I can’t figure out how to make it useful! It doesn’t seem to fit me right, no matter what I do).

          I have tried most other baby carriers out there. Wraps are the best in my book, but mei tais and ring slings also are great. This is also not about the brands, because there are tens of brands of each (and then tens of kinds within each brand).

          Really, there IS a difference :)))

          Rose wrote on February 6th, 2013
        • Seriously, Mark even just said babies shouldn’t be supported at the crotch with their legs dangling, because of the risk of hip displasia. The only way that could have been a stronger recommendation against the Baby Björn would be if he’d actually said “No Baby Björn.”

          em wrote on February 6th, 2013
  5. I used to have my little girl (now 10) in the Bjorn facing my chest with a big coat (her dad’s) over both of us. When she started looking from side to side with a real curiosity and excitement, I just naturally turned her outwards. She would hold a finger of each of my hands in hers as she studied the world, and I would kiss the top of her little head. Sweet times. I also had a Maya sling. I wish I’d worn her more.

    One time I was checking the crockpot and she put her little hand out and started to cry. She’d burnt her little knuckle. :-(

    Joy Beer wrote on February 5th, 2013
  6. Thanks Mark! I wore all my babies, but I also had a atroller that they really enjoyed on long walks. The products available now for new parents are amazing. Though my oldest daughter is only 19, the only place to get a baby sling when she was born was through our La Leche League group. We baby wore, co slept, homebirthed, breastfed forever, homeschooled, didn’t vaccinate, etc. pretty much all wothout the help of the internet. Heck, I even met James Mckenna back in 1995. It’s not that long ago, but so much has changed, and I hope new parents today are finding it easierto do what is right. Thanks for being a resource for parents!

    Cavecanem wrote on February 5th, 2013
  7. So what if you have twins? One in the front, one in the back… same rules?

    basilcronus wrote on February 5th, 2013
    • Depends on the age of the twins. If you use a stretchy wrap carrier, you can carry both newborn twins in front. As they get older, using soft structured carriers such as mei tais will let you do one in front, one in back.

      Just two examples:

      Karen C. wrote on February 5th, 2013
    • Hot au pair!

      Paleo Bon Rurgundy wrote on February 5th, 2013
    • There is a bunch of info online for using carriers with twins. Just do Google it and you should come up with plenty of info.

      b2curious wrote on February 5th, 2013
    • You can wear them both in the front until they’re around 10 pounds or so apiece. Then I wore one in the front and one in the back. This was all before I started lifting heavy things on a regular basis-it’s too bad about that, because I really could have used wearing my daughters as a formal strength training program there toward the end.

      Emily wrote on February 5th, 2013
  8. I wish I was not so old and could have another baby. There is so much I would do different.

    ponymama wrote on February 5th, 2013
  9. “Today, in the States and most other Western countries, it’s a stroller culture.” This was one of my mother’s pet peeves, especially after children learned how to walk. According to her, I would easily walk a mile by the age of 2. These days I see my neighbors taking their 2-5 year olds 1/4 mile or less to the park in strollers. I would love to see if there is any research on strollers and children developing the habit of walking.

    Myra wrote on February 5th, 2013
    • It is called obese toddlers. Wall-E human blobs, here we come.

      Paleo Bon Rurgundy wrote on February 5th, 2013
      • Yep. Don’t get me started on the endless “snacks” provided to the pre-school set, lest they die of starvation between running errands/school and the next meal time.

        Amy wrote on February 5th, 2013
        • Truly. I always feel like the weird mom because my toddler doesn’t eat between meals unless we’re eating a late (> 6:00 p.m.) dinner. “Doesn’t she need a snack?” Probably not! I also don’t pack juice boxes, just sippy cups of plain water. You’d think I was torturing the poor kid the looks I get.

          Sarah wrote on February 6th, 2013
    • My daughter completely rejected the stroller, well, from the start. I think there was only a 4 month period she would ride in it. After she started walking, the stroller just went into retirement. We don’t have a car so we bike or walk everywhere. Now she’s 2 1/2 and will walk the mile and a half to the park or the store with me. It is a painfully slow and distracted walk, but we get there eventually!
      I see other stay at home moms (I’m one) who load their kids up in the van just to go 1/4 mile to the park. It’s unbelievable. What a pain in the butt to load up your kids for such a short distance. It would take less time just to make the walk and be better for the kids. It’s sad to see.

      Casey wrote on February 5th, 2013
    • Agree. I often think that I won’t even bother buying a stroller when I’m pregnant. Pretty sure this would be considered quite shocking though…

      Leah wrote on February 6th, 2013
      • Not at all. I’ve barely used my strollers. I ring slinged my babies and when they learned to walk, I let them walk whenever possible. My umbrella and side by side umbrella have gotten the most use; to hold toys, drinks, bags, lunch if nothing else. I ask them to sit in the stroller to give us a break and so we can “go fast” but I also try to let them lead the way and meander at their pace. The big clunky strollers take up valuable real estate and bum me out just thinking about hauling them around…

        Oly wrote on February 6th, 2013
    • I totally agree! I make my kids walk everywhere, starting around 2. My 3 and 5 year olds can walk around 3 miles and my 7 year old can run 5ks and walk about 5 miles. Only the baby gets worn or a stroller.

      Rachelann wrote on January 28th, 2016
  10. Yep you can do a tandom carry with twins, or enlist the other parent (my facebook photo is me tandom carrying 4 year old and 1 year old at same time, one in a Mia Tia and one in a woven wrap.

    Been baby-wearing for 4 years now – big one still gets the odd go in the sling, 14 month old still gets mainly front carries, but is moving on to back carries for longer walks as she’s heavy and hard to see around.

    Defo worth finding a local sling group for advice if you can – any one in the uk can PM me on the forum and I’l be able to find a sling libary/group near you so you can get advice and try before you buy 😀

    Tribal Rob wrote on February 5th, 2013
    • A million times yes to finding a local baby wearing group. Being able to try before you buy, and getting expert advice on how the carrier works is invaluable. I even won a mei tai through a raffle.

      Heather wrote on February 5th, 2013
  11. “…don’t play on a trampoline”

    that one got me!… and then I started thinking of other things like.. don’t deadlift.. or don’t olympic squat while carrying a baby…

    bjjcaveman wrote on February 5th, 2013
    • …don’t go for a swim while carrying a baby…

      Suzanne wrote on February 5th, 2013
  12. Bag slings are terrible, and there is no excuse for using them when there are so many other options.

    J. wrote on February 5th, 2013
    • My kids are toast then. 😉

      Amy wrote on February 5th, 2013
  13. On a historical note, back in medieval times, babies were put in sling-like holders and hung on a nail on the wall, with a bucket under them to catch waste.

    We didn’t always wear our babies.

    Wenchypoo wrote on February 5th, 2013
    • Yeah, I’m not sure Grokette spent all their time wearing their babies either. If it’s possible to put the kiddo down, then it makes work much less tiring. It is very helpful, however, when walking from place to place and/or keeping them out of dangerous situations.

      Amy wrote on February 5th, 2013
  14. As someone planning to have kids in the next few years, please keep these baby posts comin’! I also think baby wearing is a good form of gentle exercise for moms. Win-win!

    Dani wrote on February 5th, 2013
    • It’s excellent exercise. And if you are so inclined, you can even find babywearing exercise classes and videos like Pilates, yoga, and bar method. I find just toting the extra pounds around all day is pretty sufficient, though.

      Ashley wrote on February 5th, 2013
    • so much easier for Dads, though. My wife (not coincidentally, the baby’s mother) outweighs him by a factor of eight. I outweigh him by a factor of twelve.

      And I should say I couldn’t carry him in without a shower at my office. I was a sweaty mess every day with his older brother, and I’m sure that’ll come with him when the weather turns.

      ion freeman wrote on February 5th, 2013
    • Heck yes! I wear my baby in a rucksack carry and our neighborhood is hilly. 15 pounds of baby and some hills = burning hamstrings!

      Stef wrote on February 7th, 2013
  15. I wore both my babies extensively. I loved the Myan style slings when they were tiny, and the stretchy wraps when they were bigger. Backpacks are great for toddlers, but the wraps are still handy even then. Regarding facing in/facing out debate… let the baby tell you! My boy showed with arching back and flailing fists that he insisted on seeing more than my shirt, but my daughter needed snuggling and was far more comfortable being able to turn her face to me when she’d had all she could handle of the big wide world.

    Stonefly wrote on February 5th, 2013
  16. I’ve worn three babies on my front, facing in, in moby-style wraps. Even as older, curious babies, they preferred to face in, presumably because the smell of milk is so close by. :-)

    eema.gray wrote on February 5th, 2013
  17. Another thing to consider with in/out facing, is that facing out the baby is farther from your body (legs out rather than wrapped around you). This makes them feel much heavier. My older daughter used to love being carried facing out, but once she was 15 or 20 lbs it was too heavy for me, and by then she didn’t want to face in.

    Kathy wrote on February 5th, 2013
  18. When I was [26] , I had my first love
    There was nobody that compared to my baby
    And nobody came between us who could ever come above
    She had me going crazy, oh I was starstruck
    She woke me up daily, don’t need no Starbucks

    She made my heart pound
    I skip a beat when I see her in the street
    And at school on the playground
    But I really wanna see her on a weekend
    She know she got me dazin’ ’cause she was so amazin’
    And now my heart is breakin’ but I just keep on sayin’

    Baby, baby, baby, oh
    Like baby, baby, baby, no
    Like baby, baby, baby, oh
    I thought you’d always be mine, mine

    -Justin Bieber

    zen wrote on February 5th, 2013
  19. Loved my ergo and baby hawk carriers! My babes were always in arms or carried. Too many babies these days have plagiocephaly from being left in other devices as well as sleeping in cribs on their backs. The big lumpy foreheads and flat back of the head are easy to recognize, poor kids!

    Lynette wrote on February 5th, 2013
  20. I have six kids. My parents had lived in Laos when my brother was born so they had a lovely sling they carried him in. So even though I had babies when baby wearing was not yet popular, I wore mine. I could also wear 2 at a time.

    So given my 12+ years of baby wearing here is my advice- figure out what works for you and the baby and then do that. Some kids always want to face mom. Some think that is hell. Some babies like to be in the back and some in front. And sometimes, it is just fine to set that sweet little baby down.

    Do what works. Skip the rules

    Hannah wrote on February 5th, 2013
    • Yep. The only “real” rules being a)suffocation is probably bad and b)you’re doing it wrong if the baby fusses after a few minutes or you’re in pain.

      Amy wrote on February 5th, 2013
  21. This series (this post in particularly) reminds me of the very first days with my daughter in the Baby Bjorn. She was so tiny that I had to wrap her little body like a cone in a blanket so she wouldn’t slip out one of the leg holes. :-)

    Inward facing at that point, for sure. She loved resting the side of her head on my chest that way. And I’m quite sure she could smell breast milk, which must have been divine for her.

    Later on we did a combination of forward and inward facing. As soon as she could see out (forward and inward), as we walked around New York, I pointed to things and said the name for them.

    She talked early and profusely and walked very late. Who knows if the Bjorn had something to do with those things. I’m guessing it did.

    Susan Alexander wrote on February 5th, 2013
    • That’s interesting. I’ve heard that wearing babies improves their leg muscles from the motion of being carried or something and they tend to walk sooner

      Leah wrote on February 6th, 2013
      • Yeah, but maybe not with the Baby Bjorn because of the aforementioned issues with tush/leg support. … I didn’t know about the necessity of the frog position back when my daughter was an infant and had an almost identical experience as Susan, in the way i used my Bjorn. My daughter talked early (despite a bilingual home) and walked kinda on-timeish (certainly not early).

        I had another sling i used around the house sometimes after discovering that she fussed less & i could still get things done, …but it was very hard to keep her in a good position, and i started to worry that I’d catch the sling on fire while cooking near the gas stove! One of the hazards of babywearing, i suppose!

        Mollie M wrote on December 22nd, 2013
  22. I wore all three of my kids in a sling. Nursed at the same time. I wore them until they were 18 months. At the same time, all my kids walked between 7 months and 9 months. Just a lot of hands on stuff. One of my kids rode a 2 wheel bike at 3 years old. When I started doing this I was criticized mercilessly. Everyone said that they would be too dependent on me and would be delayed in developing. Could not have been further from the truth. Trust your gut and have the courage to follow it. (and allow others to trust theirs even when it’s different from yours)

    Cristi wrote on February 5th, 2013
  23. We did use a ring type sling that ends up turning into a little bag. We never had problems, but to be clear, the material was thin and had no padding.

    As babies mature, they are “worn” differently. Newborns are indeed “weird cartilaginous thing”. Little thin pockets of material do work very well at that age because you can curl them up into a fetal position (really!). They also have flat noses for breathing (still be careful). Those little pouches work well for protecting the newest ones from too much of the outside world.

    As they gain muscle tone, how you wear them changes. About the time they can hold their head, they can usually start and want to look out. Then they can be propped up in sling looking out.

    Once they have more total torso control, (about 9 months or so), then they are more ready for back carrying. (Although it can be done in the stage above, too.)

    Honestly, we never musted around with wraps by that age and went straight to western style backpacks. They can be cumbersome to move in, but you gain the advantage of quick on and off and better weight distribution.

    Amy wrote on February 5th, 2013
  24. Also, as a follow up – what exactly is the big deal about chin to chest? I’ve never heard of it as a problem until right now. It’s the fetal position, isn’t it? I guess I’m saying that because all of my 3 kids spent significant time like that and they all still making a significant dent in my grocery bill.

    Also a very quick experiment of dropping my own chin to my chest revealed no particular breathing problems. A bit pinchy, but breathing (either mouth or nose) was not problematic. Hmm…

    Amy wrote on February 5th, 2013
    • A young baby’s airway is more flexible and has less developed cartilage than that of an adult, so having the head flexed towards the chest can close off the airway. They can also lack the neck muscle control to move their heads into a better position and they are obligate nose breathers (that is, they will not switch to mouth breathing should their nose be blocked). While the fetal position does have a tucked chin, a fetus is receiving all of its oxygen via its umbilical cord. With all those factors, the safest way to wear your newborn is upright, not in a cradle hold. Hope my explanation made sense!

      Kacy wrote on February 5th, 2013
  25. I wore my younger son until he was 3. As a newborn, he was in a Mayawrap, then later he was carried in a custom made Mei Tei. Both were wonderful, and he and I both enjoyed sharing the time together.

    If I’d known about baby wearing with my first kid, I’d have worn him too.

    It’s a wonderful thing…

    Jodey wrote on February 5th, 2013
    • Oh…facing out or in doesn’t matter, as long as you do it right (neck/head support when needed).

      I was a big fan of the hip carry with the wrap sling. Very comfortable for both of us.

      Anyone try EC with their little ones?

      Jodey wrote on February 5th, 2013
      • Yes! Ecing rocks! I would suggest reading the Diaper Free Baby ( she has a website too) and getting a baby bjorn potty. There are a lot of resources out there on ec.

        Stef wrote on February 5th, 2013
      • Jodey,

        Be careful if you have relatives who aren’t on board! We live far from ours and don’t see them often. At 5 months, our daughter was using the potty great! Then her grandmother came to visit and convinced her that she was “too little” to be out of a diaper yet. For the next year she refused to use the potty again, to the point where if she was running around diaper-free she would hold it until we took her off the potty and put the diaper back on, and then go. She’ll be 2 in April and we just now got her back using it regularly — after I BEGGED my husband’s mother to tell her she was big enough to do it now.

        Erin wrote on February 5th, 2013
  26. Koreans call their baby carrier “podaegi” – they are like blankets with ties. The baby is carried on the back so you can do your house/field chores. Do a search for podaegi images and you’ll find many variations and pictures of people wearing them in the front too.

    Pure Hapa wrote on February 5th, 2013
  27. One thing I didn’t see: the ONLY safe way to wear a newborn on the back, before they have neck/head control, is in a woven wrap of some sort. It can be one of the beautiful and pricey ones available, or it can be a sturdy scarf, blanket, tablecloth …

    Ashley wrote on February 5th, 2013
    • Or you could use a tall-bodied mei tai like a Kozy. I did it with two newborns and it isn’t any less safe than using a woven wrap.

      Jane wrote on February 11th, 2013
  28. Is there a website that shows the different carriers? I love my Maya wrap when they’re little, but would like to see other options too.

    Beccolina wrote on February 5th, 2013
    • Check out (great info although the website could be organized better)

      Here are some of the basic types of carriers: stretchy wraps, woven wraps, slings, soft structured carriers, and mei tais.

      Have fun!

      Kacy wrote on February 5th, 2013
    • Two websites I’ve found useful for babywearing info are and Both have photos and tutorials for various types of wraps/slings/carriers.

      Amy James Gray wrote on February 5th, 2013
    • Yes, come to the babywearing board on We’ll show you all the options!

      Ida wrote on February 6th, 2013
      • Thank you all so much. Those are very helpful.

        Beccolina wrote on February 6th, 2013
  29. Thanks for the great article!!
    I used to work as a birth doula and have taught babywearing classes in the past.
    When I had my own son, he was colicky and nothing saved our first-time-parent sanity like babywearing.

    Your article was wonderfully well-written! Thanks again. 😀

    Alysen wrote on February 5th, 2013
  30. Maan Health is your lifelong partner in wellbeing, creating healthy and natural products to rejuvenate your body and invigorate your mind. We trust in the healing power of our own bodies, especially when powered by natural ingredients from Mother Earth. Many of our products include time-proven European, Ayurvedic and Chinese herbs, used safely and effectively for centuries. We also incorporate the latest encapsulation and freeze drying techniques to deliver nutraceuticals such as probiotics, antioxidants and omega-3 effectively.

    Caitlyn Wang wrote on February 5th, 2013
  31. I was eagerly awaiting this post since last week, but slightly disappointed as I’m none the wiser than I was last week. I really would love mark’s opinion on the best slings out there!

    Aloka wrote on February 6th, 2013
    • Aloka,

      There aren’t really “the best” — it’s a matter of personal preference. If you are thinking “most versatile” — then the answer is hands down a woven wrap. You can make any carry with it and use it in so many ways. Among the woven wraps, there are many well respected brands: didymos, girasol, strorchenwinge, hoppediz, natibaby, ellevill and others.

      I’d say just browse those and pick a wrap that you like in color and fiber content, and you can’t really go wrong. They are all slightly different in thickness, but in essentials they are all very much alike. Just pick one and head to youtube or, even better, and you’ll learn a lot about how to use it.

      If you are intimidated by wraps, a good way to start may be mei tais — they have a lot of flexibility and fit different sizes (so you and your husband can share one), but offer the same benefits and support.

      Rose wrote on February 6th, 2013
      • I love my ring sling and have used it the most. I bought mine from Jan of sleeping baby productions which is a home business. She even has tutorials on her personal site teaching people how to make their own and will give recommendations for other work from home mom’s businesses if she stops taking orders for school vacations etc. She also has her diagram showing the different carries on her website.

        Oly wrote on February 6th, 2013
  32. Mark,

    I love your posts. This is my first time commenting.

    I think it would be great if you pointed people at . Ladies and gentlemen there are very supportive and friendly and encouraging, and they will help anyone to find the joy of babywearing and to get it just right — when the baby is fully supported, the weight is evenly distributed, baby’s butt is below his knees, etc.

    There are also hundredths of videos on youtube on proper babywearing.

    Unfortunately, the woman in the picture at the top of this article isn’t a good example. She’s using a woven non-stretchy wrap (didymos Jonas for those, who are curious), but using a wrap carry that is only fitting for stretchy wraps, because this is the kind of carry that needs to be pre-tied, and then the baby put in it (rather than tying it around the baby, like you would with the non-stretchy wrap). The baby’s legs are not spread enough, and the knees are too low (lower than the butt). This looks like someone who’s used to stretchy wraps, then got her first woven and tried exactly the same thing with it, which isn’t the best idea.

    Woven wraps are awesome and versatile — they can be used for back carries, they can be used for older kids, but please, point people at a resource where they can learn how to use those. It isn’t hard, believe me, but a few pointers can go a long way.

    And yes, wearing is not just for the babies. I’ve found it incredibly useful to have a wrap with me when hiking with kids or exploring a new city on vacations. It gives us the freedom to go further and higher, and then if my now-five year old gets tired and needs a bit of a break, I can hoist her on my shoulders with a wrap and carry her (something that would be far harder without a wrap — she does weigh like a normal five year old :)) ) until she has enough energy to keep up with us again. Not to mention that a wrap makes a wonderful beach towel, beach blanket, a tent or a shade, a napkin, a pashmina or blanket, a hammock (even for adults — it’s that strong), a rope and even a garment in a pinch — and much, much more. I’ve tried all those uses and more :)

    My parents used to look funnily at my “long pieces of cloth” and tell me how babies are more “spread out” in a stroller. Now if I’m going somewhere with my parents, they ask me themselves if I’ve remembered to bring a wrap. I have a thin and short one (shorter than usual, but I can make plenty of carries with it) that weighs nothing and can scrunch up very small, and it goes everywhere with me.

    Ah, babywearing… I think that’s one of the reasons I’m having a third child (and yes, I can still carry my five year old now, even while 8 months pregnant — the wraps do spread the weight that well). Oh, and a wrap makes for a wonderful pregnancy support belt and it even has many uses during labor.

    But any babywearing — using a wrap, a mei tai, a ring sling, a soft structured carrier — can be great and rewarding.

    Rose wrote on February 6th, 2013
    • Awesome comment. I loved this article, didn’t care for image

      Rebecca wrote on February 7th, 2013
    • I love babywearing!! I was introduced to wrapping when I was pregnant, and thank god I was! I am not an avid wrapper I don’t leave home without it. I am also a BWI instructor, I loved your critique of the pictures, you took the words right out of my mouth!

      Gabrielle wrote on July 30th, 2013
  33. Just to be clear, the Hip Dysplasia Institute does not claim that straight-legged positioning can lead to hip dysplasia.(though that position certainly isn’t the best position for developing hips and spines) If you read the text vs. just looking at the pictures, you will find that they recommend against it merely because it isn’t ideal for hip development and can be risky with babies with or at risk for hip dysplasia. Hip dysplasia is understood to be a congenital disease.

    Rachel wrote on February 6th, 2013
  34. All this baby talk is making me broody!!!

    Paula wrote on February 6th, 2013
  35. I really miss carrying my son, I wore him constantly for the first 3 months of his life. I had a little plastic mirror on a clip with retractable cable that I used to check on him when he was in a back carry. The best sling I had was 4 metres of stretchy fabric, no need to spend a fortune!

    Hannah R-S wrote on February 6th, 2013
  36. So are baby bjorn carriers bad then?

    Lourdes wrote on February 6th, 2013
  37. I’m waiting for the Bjorns to get banned. But I guess people don’t wear babies in them for long enough to cause dysplasia since they’re so awkward?

    Anyway, since it’s winter, my suggestions for new parents are to get a fleece pouch, or use a wrap (e.g. Moby Baby) and a extra large coat. Zip it up around you and the baby and you’ll be all comfy toasty.

    Liz wrote on February 6th, 2013
    • I love my peekaru vest under my real coat. Peekaru has coats, but I went with the vest

      Rebecca wrote on February 7th, 2013
      • I second the idea about using a peekaru or another babywearing vest (mine is an old Suzie Kinder, I think).

        Rose wrote on February 7th, 2013
  38. I couldn’t parent without a Moby wrap. Both my babes (one now 21 months, one 3 months) have their fussy time right when I need to be making dinner and getting the family ready for the evening. With the oldest, a spring baby, I was able to wrap her and take her for an early evening walk in the fresh air to help her calm down and get ready for bed. With my new babe it’s too chilly, so we walk and gently dance around the kitchen to avoid the terrible fusses.

    I was wearing my 3 month old in the Moby at the zoo a few weeks ago. We were leaving the primate house (where a mama orangutan was more or less wearing her baby) and a woman and I nearly collided going opposite directions around the same corner. She shrieked at me, “What’s on your chest?!” I said, “My little one,” and turned to show her the baby’s face. She laughed at herself. Sometimes baby wearing can be a weird thing to people!

    Sarah wrote on February 6th, 2013

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