Baby Carriers and Slings 101

Join Lactation Specialists Wendy Haldeman and Kelli Venaas as they discuss “Baby Wearing” and review Baby Carriers and Slings.
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Baby Carriers and Slings 101

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- Parents instinctively want to hold their babies. The dilemma comes in how do you go about your tasks of daily living? How do you eat and make food and do your laundry and clean your house when you have a baby in your arms? Well we have a solution, it's called babywearing. Babywearing is not new. The cave people undoubtedly took a piece of fur and tied their babies to their bodies. There are lots of advantages to wearing your baby in a sling or a carrier. When babies are placed in slings, again it returns them to that womb-like, close, snug feeling that they really enjoy. And when they're up against their parent's body they get to hear their parent's heartbeat. When babies are in carriers they tend to calm and go to sleep and stay asleep longer. Babies in carriers are safer. I don't know if you've noticed, but when babies are out in public, if they're in a carseat or a stroller, people are just compelled in our culture to come up and touch babies, 'cause we love babies, and we invariably touch their little hands and then babies put their hands in their mouths. When babies are in carriers, people kind of respect that space and sort of stand back. Clever moms can breastfeed babies in carriers. If your baby has some digestive issues like reflux, or what some people call colic, these babies do so much better in an upright position, and carriers beautifully will hold a baby in that position.

- One of our favorite wraps for newborns is the long fabric-style wraps. These are really great because they really provide the most head and neck support for newborns and the most hands-free capabilities for the wearer. With this one, it has a little stretch to it, so it's very easy to learn. You just gather it up a bit, place it about belly button height. Take the tails around behind them and cross them. Take a moment to bring them out to the side and just make sure that they're not twisted. So you want to open them like wings. Then they come up and over your shoulders from the back like you're putting on a shawl. Gather them back up small again. Take these two tails, tuck them down through the middle, and then you want to adjust the tension, so you want to make sure it's nice and tight by pulling back on the belt, hold onto the X behind you and bring any slack over your shoulders and through with a pull. Then you cross the two tails in the front, take them around the back, cross again and bring to the front and tie a double knot. Now you're ready to put the baby in. Whichever panel is crossed closest to your body, under the other, is where the baby's feet and bottom will start. Baby will actually be secured right in the middle of your chest, skin to skin with you. Once you have your wrapped tied on, you start with the panel closest to your body and just open it a bit to prepare it for your baby. Take your baby up on the opposite shoulder and bring him up in a high burp position, so that his feet can naturally froggy under and go right down into the wrap. Open the panel and let his body weight just sink in. Wrap it all the way across him and just scoot him over to the middle of your chest. Then do the same with the other side. Take the inside panel, wrap it all the way across baby and under his bottom and legs, securing his whole body in. Then you take the third panel, and bring that all the way up to baby's shoulders. Baby will turn his head one way or the other and you can tuck the fabric over to make him secure and you completely hands-free.

- You ready, Chance? Here we go. Right up here, Dad. And now he's old enough that we're gonna separate his legs, a newborn would have his legs together. Actually, let's put him on the other side, 'cause we have to start on the side that is closest to your body, so we're gonna tuck his little leg right in and slide him right down into that sling. Let his head come all the way down underneath your chin. Now take the other side and bring it right between his legs and there he is, already into the sling. And then the last piece is this first piece we started with, you're just gonna take a hold of it with your thumbs, take both hands, he's safe.

- Okay.

- And bring it all the way up, grab a hold all the way up and just peel it open. Perfect. Now you can take him for a walk, you can bounce on the ball, you can move these out. So, Alexander, once you get a baby in a sling, you want to make sure that you've done three things. You want the head up on the heart so he's nice and high. You want the chip up off the chest so it's not impinging the airway, and lots of air space around him. So you can even recline on the couch, and just relax a little bit. Take your baby for a walk, anything you want to do. You look adorable.

- This is an example of a ring sling that can be used for babies of any age. You want to treat this ring as if it were a broach, and I'm gonna swap with Mom.

- Here you go.

- There we go. Okay Mom, and stick your opposite arm out for where you want the ring to end up. Go up over your shoulder. Position this padding across your back. Now if you can feel these two edges of fabric, you wanna pull this edge of this fabric so that this piece across your chest is tight.

- Oh, right here.

- That's the opposite, do the other one. There you go, nice and tight, perfect. All right, now we're gonna take this little baby and we're gonna place her facing out, so we're gonna drop her little butt right down into your pouch, and you wanna pull this up, and then you wanna pull this piece, so that it's nice and snug. Hold onto your baby. This is an example of a structured carrier. And this carrier can be used from babies from birth til they're about two and a half years old. It's fairly easy to use. You just pick this carrier up and place this belt around your waist. The buckle goes under this loop, which is kind of your insurance in case the buckle were to come loose, you won't lose it. Attach it here. We're gonna place this two and a half month old baby, little Brooklyn, into the infant insert because she's still too little to be in the carrier without it. Babies need this until they're about four months of age. We just set her in, and you bring this strap over and snap it. Once the baby is fastened into the infant insert, you simply scoop your baby up, bring her up onto your chest, bring the front of the carrier up and over, place one strap over one shoulder, the second strap over the second shoulder, and snap it in the back and you're all set.

- I'm going to demonstrate a structured carrier for holding baby Kate. She's three months, and what we've done is put the carrier on the mom right at the hips, and that's why these structured carriers are very good for moms. They support the baby's weight on your hips, rather than on your back or shoulders. So Kate just settles right down into the bottom here, sitting on her bottom and legs bend and come out the side. Mom will hold her with one arm and bring up the carrier with the other. And then with the straps on this one, you can put them over your shoulder and under the arms like this. But on moms I prefer to bring them around the back, and buckle them on the side here. Then we just give that a pull to adjust it, and we do the same with the other strap. Around the back, reach for it on the side, and buckle there. This head support is up when baby is asleep or lying on mom's chest, so that her head is supported. But it can also be unclipped and snapped down, when baby turns around to face outward. This is how the carrier would look when baby's facing out. You snap the inside here to make it a narrow base for her hips, so she's not spreading her legs too wide.


Join Lactation Specialists Wendy Haldeman and Kelli Venaas as they discuss “Baby Wearing” and review Baby Carriers and Slings.

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