Snugbub Babywearing 101- Your Guide to baby slings, ergonomic carriers


Introduction

This is a story of a typical woman who is expecting a child- abundant sleep (yes as per the concept of relativity), eating whatever and whenever she desires, lots and lots of shopping, catching up with friends, movies, maternity shoots, super supportive family members…… and then the day arrives when the much awaited baby(ies) pops out!! A moment of joy- absolutely! But what happens to the mother? Lack of rest, lack of sleep, constant pressure of ‘feeding right – feeding enough’, recovering physically, too many things to sort out which none of the pre natal classes taught her! And this is the phase when babywearing could become her best friend! So mums/ primary caregivers lets learn more how to make this happen-

What is babywearing?

Babywearing (BW) is keeping the baby close you, with the help of the modern BW carriers or a sadi or sturdy cotton dupatta. Here you will come across two terms- ergonomic carriers/ non ergonomic carriers. Ergonomic carriers are those, which support the natural posture of the baby and mimic the way baby is positioned when held in hands (here the knees are slightly higher than the bum forming a M shape). The non ergonomic carriers are typically narrow based carriers that
 do not provide a knee to knee fabric coverage thus not forming the ‘M’ shape.

So what are the important aspects to keep in mind when it comes to posture (Commonly known as TICKS):

Tight: The baby needs to be hugging you securely without slouching and without having any loose fabric/ slack

In view all the times: You should be able to see the baby simply by glancing down. This also helps in catching baby cues early on

Close enough to kiss: This point focuses mainly on the height. You should be able to kiss the baby comfortably when worn.

Keep chin off chest: Baby’s airways should be clear and the baby should be able to breathe normally

Supported back: Baby's back should always be supported well. For babies below 3 months make sure the neck is well supported at all times.

All in all I say use your common sense when you babywear, ensure both of you are comfortable, go by the baby’s cues and you are good to go!

When to start Babywearing?

While it is strongly recommended to know and learn about babywearing before the baby arrives, but, its never too late to start!

Start Early: Meet an educator before you deliver, know what options are available, learn how to wear, make a choice. You can babywear right from day 1- ofcourse with right guidance and correct posture!

Starting late: No issues, its never too late to start. Again, know the suitable options, try to attend a babywearing meet, seek help from an educator may be rent and try out the carriers and made a choice.

Benefits of babywearing

No I won’t give a textbook answer here! Ill tell you some practical instances which will give you an idea about how liberating it is when you babywear! And yes this is a non exhaustive list! (Read more here)
  • Workout with your baby- BW and go for walks, you get a much needed break and the baby gets some fresh air too! All this as you burn those calories along..
  • Feed and burp- no more gluing to that sofa for long hours. All ergonomic carriers support discreet mobile breastfeeding and the upright posture facilitates burping. So here you go- a well fed, satisfied baby with minimal colic issues (Click here for nursing in carrier)
  • BW helps babies to sleep well and longer too! Woah what more can a mother ask for 😉
  • Babies pick up communication skills really fast as they are silently observing you and learning. You would observe a considerable drop in their stranger anxiety too
  • No more bulky strollers and juggling luggage, BW is an awesome tool for travels (For comparative analysis click here)
  • Fight that PPD- If you are not confined to one place, you have a satisfied baby, wont you come out of PPD faster?

The right gear?

When you start your babywearing journey, there are two main decisions to make-
1. Type of carrier 
2. Brand. 

You need this basic information handy to make a decision:
  • Baby’s weight
  • Age
  • Milestones
  • Fabric preference (All Indian brands use cotton/ cotton blends)
  • Budget
Its important to figure out which carrier suits you better either by trying it out or by seeking help from an educator, as the preferences here are highly subjective.There is no ONE best carrier. Figure out whats best for you..

Types of Carriers Commonly Used/ Available

People across the globe have been BW since ages and one can get references in tribal pictures, north eastern states of India, Jhansi ki Rani even! Modern BW simply translates these old methods to suit the present needs of parents! Below are the types of carriers readily available in the BW space:

Babywearing Wraps: 

Wrap is basically a long piece of cloth. There are two types in wraps- Stretchy wrap and woven wraps

Stretchy Wrap/ Hybrid Wrap





  • Distributes weight evenly on the wearer
  • These wraps are elastic and work great with newborns. 
  • These are great as first carriers and come. These can be pre-tied, thereby making it all the more easier to get the baby in and out and suitable for all caregivers. 
  • As these come with a stretch, they are not very suitable for toddlers. I personally started my BW journey with a stretchy wrap and used it till my kids were 11 months old!
  • These have a moderate learning curve
  • Click here for the tutorial
  • Click here for tutorial on nursing your new born in stretchy wrap 

  • Woven wraps (without stretch)

    These are either machine made or handwoven wraps. You get them in variety of sizes (Typically Size 6 is the base size for most of the wearers)
    • Distributes weight evenly on the wearer
    • Suitable right from new born stage
    • Suitable as long as the caregiver and kid are comfortable- no age bar as such (The Stretchy wraps however do come with a weight limit that varies brand to brand)
    • Extremely versatile – You can front, hip and back and *front facing out carry in these (It is not recommended to baby carry in the stretchy wraps due to risk of falling)
    • Wraps have a greater learning curve
    • Click here for the tutorial for front wrap cross carry
    • Click here for the tutorial for back carry
    • Click here for the tutorial for torso carry using dupatta
    • Click here for the tutorial for wearing babies while in sitting position

    Meh Dai

    • Meh Dai (MD) is a carrier with Chinese origin. 
    • These are a mid way between a wrap and a Soft Structured Carrier, where you get a body panel and waist, shoulder straps to tie.
    • Distributes weight evenly on the wearer
    • Suitable right from new born stage (Check for manufacturer recommendations here however most of the brand’s MD can be used from new born stage)
    • Suitable as long as the caregiver and kid are comfortable- no age bar as such
    • Extremely versatile – You can front, hip, back and *front facing out carry in these
    • MD have a moderate learning curve
    • Click here for the tutorial for front carry
    • Click here for the tutorial for back carry
    • Click here for the tutorial for hip carry
    • Click here for the tutorial for new born carry

    Soft Structured Carrier (SSC) / Buckled Carrier

    • These are full buckled carriers where you get a body panel, waist belt and shoulder belts to buckle up and adjust. So basically you need not ‘tie’ anything except for the hood may be! So its more of a 'Plug and play' setting
    • Distributes weight evenly on the wearer
    • Each model has a specific minimum starting weight to start using it eg few models are 3.5kg up, some are 5.5kg up, some are 7 kg up and likewise
    • Typically standard size SSC are suitable till 18/20 kg and from an experience point of view fit a child till 2/2.5 yrs of age comfortably. Post which a Toddler/ Pre-schooler SSC is better suited, i.e for kids above 12 kg / ~85 cm
    • SSC can be used for front, back carry. Few models also support a hip carry and *front facing out option
    • SSC have a lowest learning curve
    • Which brand model to choose also depends on your preference- whether you want to opt for a safety tested/ untested carrier, apart from the ones listed above
    • Click here for the tutorial for front carry
    • Click here for the tutorial for back carry
    • Click here for the tutorial for high back carry

    Ring Sling (RS)

    • This the most compact carriers which comprise of two safety tested rings and a cloth. Also the easiest to nurse in!
    • Do not distribute weight evenly on the wearer- hence good for shorter spans
    • Suitable right from new born stage
    • Suitable till 15 kg
    • Used for cradle hold for new borns, front, hip carry and *front facing out carry, (Back carry is possible but comes with a lot of practice)
    • RS have a greater learning curve
    • Click here for the tutorial for front carry

    Onbuhimo

    • This carrier has a Japanese origin. 
    • This is a carrier famous for its high back carries, but front carry is possible too
    • These are similar to SSC but come without a waist belt. 
    • The weight is mainly distributed on the wearer’s shoulders and upper body- hence good for shorter spans
    • Typically suited for toddlers (Check manufacturers weight recommendations)
    • These come with a medium learning curve
    *Front Facing Out carry: Is recommended for babies between 4-6m only once they have a good head and torso control. When worn, the baby should be well supported at the pelvic region and should be in a sitting posture not leaning forward. Having said that, the wearer needs to keep a close watch for any signs of over stimulation.

    A personal note- would strongly recommend caregivers to buy carriers from the Indian makers of ergonomic carriers. The Indian brands make lovely carriers using fabrics suitable for Indian weather, with pretty designs and prompt customer care, also it’s a great way to support their hard work- a piece of interesting information- All these beautiful Indian brands emerged from the vision of such mothers who took a step forward to translate their passion and love for babywearing into making these modern ergonomic carriers to suit the need of today’s Indian caregivers!

    Some additional references:

    A Little about Snugbub

    Snugbub was formed in March 2016 totally out of my love and passion for babywearing. Being a mother of twins, one being born at 1.1 kg, we knew the road uphill is going to be rocky. But BW helped us sail through smoothly, which not just made it possible to take care of our kids in a nuclear set up but also let us pursue our passion and enjoy life as a family. I quit my job and decided to dedicate my time and efforts in the babywearing space, to spread awareness and provide a helping hand to as many as possible.

    Fast forward, today, we have proudly grown to be a full fledged professional support system for mothers all across the globe. The team of amazing mothers who excel in their own field revolving around babies and families! We have experts like pedodontist, lactation experts, early childhood educator, doula and so on bringing in some amazing value to the table! We provide one on one consultations around babywearing, gentle parenting, infant sleep and more, and also run a support community for mothers.

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