While the equipment may have changed over the years, the practice of babywearing has been around for centuries and there are a surprising number of benefits of this ancient art. Have you thought about babywearing but aren't sure where to start, or are finding it difficult to navigate the endless variety of slings, wraps and carriers available? If you want to give babywearing a go, here is some handy information.
Image: Babywearers WA Inc Facebook page
What is babywearing?
To put it simply, baby wearing means literally that – wearing your baby. Women have been carrying their bubs on their bodies for forever and a day, especially in nomadic tribes that were constantly on the go, hunting for food, and holding their babies in their arms was simply not an option. The modern sling, as we know it, was invented in the 1960s and has enjoyed a steady rise in popularity since then. Today, it's still a convenient practice that has many benefits, with women babywearing to gain more mobility in their every day tasks, to exercise and to give baby a sense of security.
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What are some further benefits
Just some of the benefits of babywearing are noted below:
• Flexibility, mobility and convenience
• Allows you to incorporate your baby into everyday life
• Can promote sleeping
• Provides a feeling of security for baby baby the feeling of security
• Can help calm a distressed baby
• It means you can hold your baby for long periods
• It’s a handy practice for parents with more than one child
• It allows you to take part in exercise with your baby, for example Kangatraining • It can deepen the bond between you and baby
• Can strengthen the back muscles and core
• Gives you two free hands while holding your baby close
Exercise with your baby! Image: Kangatraining Joondalup/Wanneroo Facebook page
What type of equipment is available?
Slings A ring sling is fairly simple – it’s a rectangular piece of material with two rings sewn in at one end. The rings should be strong, non-welded and ideally made specifically for ring slings, such as those made using SlingRings™.
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• It is an ideal carrier for quick trips and for sitting down with a small, sleeping baby or for an aeroplane trip.
• It’s a quick, easy-to-use carrier, although it can be tricky to set up initially.
• They are ideal for older babies and toddlers for making short trips.
• Once set up and threaded properly, the ring sling doesn't need to be taken apart after each use – it can simply be loosened, ready for the next use.
• The ring sling is one-shouldered, meaning that unless you get it tightened and the material spread well, it can eventually become uncomfortable with an older baby or toddler.
• You may need to ask for help with the initial set up.
Wraps A wrap is perhaps the most versatile baby carrier and even has different uses beyond a wrap, including as a blanket, swing or even a hammock. A wrap provides a custom fit and can be worn in multiple positions and by different people. There are three main types – stretchy, woven and gauge.
• Custom fit every time.
• They are great for carrying small babies.
• Good if you are carrying a baby for a long period of time.
• The wrap easily turns into a blanket or cover if needed.
• One of the cheaper options for baby-carrying.
• The woven wraps in particular can be tricky to navigate at first, so you may need help setting it up.
• A stretchy wrap shouldn’t be used for back-carrying as babies and toddlers can easily lean back and fall out. Only a woven wrap should be used for back and hip (and front) carrying.
The soft structured carrier
Soft-Structured Carriers A soft-structured carrier (SSC) is just that - a structured carrier with buckles and clips that looks a little bit like a backpack. It can be used for both newborns and older children.
• They are suitable for babies and toddlers.
• They are usually easier to put on than a wrap or sling.
• They provide excellent support and structure for both you and your child.
• Easy to adjust.
• They don't provide as snug a fit for baby than the wrap or sling.
• They do take up space and are heavier than a wrap or sling - you can't just fold it up and pop it into your handbag.
• Less neck support for babies.
• The buckles and clips can be annoying.
If you would like more information about the benefits of babywearing, Babywearings Western Australia Inc is WA’s very own babywearing support service aimed at educating, facilitating and promoting safe ways to wear your baby. Many women don’t realise there are correct and incorrect ways to wear your baby in a sling, wrap or carrier, so they can help you get it right and answer any questions about how to wear a baby.
Image: Babywearers WA Inc Facebook
They also have an amazing collection of wraps, sling rings and carriers available at their nine sling libraries around the state. This means that members can try and test out various carriers to see which best suits them and their baby and feels the most comfortable. You can find more information at the WA website or via the page.
Other babywearing groups You may be surprised to learn that there are various Facebook groups around Perth dedicated to regular babywearing meet ups for exercise and social purposes.
Babywearing is a lovely way to bond with your baby but it also gives you convenience on a day-to-day basis. Once you find the right carrier, you'll never look back.