We’re having a heat wave. Supposedly. That’s us in the garden in the middle of the heatwave, complete with woolly hats and knitted jumpers!
The plan was not to enjoy a BBQ and lazy day in the sunshine, but to pressure wash the BBQ and the mouldy garden furniture in preparation for the next sunny day. We can dream. Dad is a whiz on the barbie…and the little guy has yet to sample his dads Californian outdoor cookery skills with a salmon or a home made burger on the coals. This way at least we will be totally prepared when the real British summer arrives.
Anyway, what I really wanted to talk about was the wrap sling. Five meters of the simplest looking yet most confusing stretchy fabric that is the wrap sling.
I was a bit of a late starter with the sling, I always wanted one, but I didn’t have a clue what to do with one. They looked so confusing and constricting in the pictures, I wondered how anybody ever managed to get a baby into it or ever tie the exotic looking wrap in the first place.
So the little guy was probably already four months old before I got to try one out. A friend dragged me to a fairly small baby show, the cot2tot stall was empty so I shot in and requested a demonstration. She handed me the sling, and so simple was the basic wrapping that I was sold before I even had the little guy in it. Once he was in, it was like carrying air, the weight was distributed so perfectly with the wide fanned out shoulder straps and he felt light as a feather in it. I was happily bouncing around for ages doing the hard sell to everyone that looked in, I should have been earning a commission!!!
Here’s the rub. During the demo, she showed me the outward facing position, as well as the traditional cuddle position which I would normally use. I have since learned that the outward facing position that I so loved is not actually that great. Having just tried the outward facing hold again, I was super uncomfortable and something didn’t feel right.
Cue the research! Here is what I found:
Babies under 3 months old, and babies without good neck and back control should never be placed in an outward facing position. The reasoning is the same as with older babies but it is exaggerated in those who are that much less developed.
Babies are born with a natural curve to the spine, the C-curve. Over the course of the first year of life, in response to the milestones that baby achieves like head lifting and crawling, they will start to develop the S-curve that is more familiar in adults. (These are natural developments and are the reason that babies should not be placed in walkers or bouncers until appropriate times.)
The development of these curves is also the reason why inward facing holds are superior to outward facing ones. To support the natural C-curve of a baby’s spine requires them to be facing towards your body, this way the legs can get into the spread-squat position where baby’s thighs are held with the knees higher than the hips and only the lower legs hanging down.
In an outward facing position, the wrap sling can not offer a sufficient enough spread-squat of the legs, instead baby is left in a ‘crotch-dangle’ which encourages the spine into a backwards-curved position. Obviously this goes against the very principle of safe baby-wearing, with the potential to interfere with the development of the natural curve.
Then there is the possibility of over stimulation in the outward facing position. Baby can not bury their head in your chest for comfort, and definitely should never fall asleep facing out due the the immense pressure on their neck.
Finally, the outward facing position changes everyone’s centre of gravity. Baby will often try and hold onto your fingers for extra stability, or you might find yourself supporting them under the thighs to compensate for the way they pull away from your body. Either way, carrying something that is arching away from you, will naturally make you arch in the opposite direction…cue back ache, shoulder ache, and general discomfort.
For these reasons, it just isn’t the ideal carry, I instantly tried him in a hip carry once I realised the outward facing was no good.
Do you like the outward facing position? Also, do you find it easy to breastfeed in a sling…I still haven’t mastered this?!
There is some great info here at the Ergobaby blog.
- Benefits of Baby Wearing (parenting-success.com)
- My Experience With Babywearing (wifeandmamma.wordpress.com)
- Baby Wearing – Newborn – Bringing Baby Home (everydayfamily.com)