Newborn babies are so tiny and precious. There are a few things we need to watch out for when wearing them. It’s important to keep in mind that they start out so tiny but grow SO rapidly (doubling their lowest weight by 6 months and tripling by a year). A carrier that would fit a newborn well will not fit a 6 month old unless it’s a less structured carrier that you have to form to fit the baby. It’s of special importance to be sure that the carrier supports baby’s legs and hips well, spine, and neck to set baby up for the most optimal circumstances. While carriers can’t be directly attributed to causing hip dysplasia we do know that baby’s hips are cartilage until they are toddlers and that the femur cartilage is harder and will win in a battle. Any wear and tear can cause issues down the road-whether this is immediate or when your child is very old or somewhere in between. I promote best practices so all of my posts reflect this. Best practices include supporting the spread squat positioning mentioned on the Babywearing Institute’s page here. And in Dr. Evelin Kirkilionis book A Baby Wants to Be Carried: Everything You Need to Know about Baby Carriers and the Advantages of Babywearing (available on Amazon and through other book suppliers and book stores-link is an affiliate link to Amazon and funds received through the affiliate link helps purchase homeschooling books for my children’s education).
I have traced my newborn daughter’s legs and bottom in this picture. This wrap is supporting the spread squat position. You can see how her body makes a capital M shape. In this position her femur is sitting in the ball and socket of the hip per the research done by hip dysplasia doctors in Germany. She does not have hip dysplasia but if she did this would be the position they would keep her in because they have determined that this is the best possible position for baby’s hips to be in to heal if baby does have an issue. I’m exhausted in the picture and it’s not my favorite of me by a long shot but my daughter is only 2 days old in this and she was enjoying an wonderful nap on me. She is close enough to kiss and the back of her neck is supported by the carrier being tight and smooth on her neck. The carrier is smooth across her back and if this shot was taken sideways you could see the c-shape curve that a newborn’s spine is in. (She should be straight up right but had a tendency to lean-I could have further supported her head and body by pulling one of the sides around the back of her head to support her more).
This is a stock image. The mother and baby are beautiful but this wrap is MUCH too loose. It’s natural to snuggle and cuddle your newborn however I think this mom doesn’t feel very secure and in all images that I saw of this mother and baby she’s pulling her baby closer. This can easily be adjusted by tightening the carrier by pulling very snuggly when wrapping the carrier (I will demonstrate this in a video in a later post). The shoulders and arms are also very loose and the wrap is likely to slip down mom’s arms. This is why in person help with a carrier is very important because once you FEEL and SEE how it’s supposed to be on your body you will always get it right and you are able to apply the feeling to any carry that you do.
This same looseness can occur with other carriers such as a ring sling, mei tai (I don’t recommend most mei tais for newborns though because they have to be adjusted quite a bit and don’t support the spine as well because of this unless they’re specifically made to size down to a newborn), or a soft structure carrier at any age or stage. This looseness is not recommended no matter how old your baby is.
My daughter is a week old in this photo. She is in a ring sling. This picture shows the c-shape curve better (I have traced it to point it out better). Her chin is off of her chest so she can breathe but the carrier is flexible so that her spine is allowed to do what it needs to do.
Now that we know more about what position baby should be in let’s talk about newborn carriers specifically. These are my favorite carriers for newborns (with links back to my previous posts about these classes of carriers):
- Ring Slings (not pouches)
- Wraps-especially the front wrap cross carry
- Gauze or hybrid wraps
- Possibly stretchy wraps if they are wrapped very tightly (I don’t recommend them after 12-15 lbs though because baby’s legs will start to pull down out of the spread squat position and baby will become too heavy to stay in the right position on your body-they should NEVER be worn in a back carry)
- Mei Tais that are specifically designed to adjust down both vertically and horizontally so that it fits snuggly around a newborn (no fabric going below the knee and fabric emulating the tightness from my first picture above).
- Some infant soft structure carriers. There should be absolutely no gapping between the back of your baby’s neck and the carrier. If there is baby needs to grow larger to fit in the carrier well. Many manufacturers of soft structure carriers say that baby can fit in the carrier from birth however there’s often not enough support until baby is a couple of months old.
If you are in the Oklahoma City area and would like some hands on help to prepare for wearing your newborn during pregnancy or after your baby has arrived please feel free to contact me or check out my website.
What is/was your favorite carrier for a newborn?