It makes me very happy to see more and more parents using baby carriers to carry their babies around town, but not all carriers are made with the same philosophy.What does a chiropractor look for in a baby carrier? It needs to be good for the carrier and the ‘carry-ee’.
For Moms and Dads (and grandparents or caregivers), the carrier needs to promote as natural a posture as possible. For the adult, carriers that promote leaning to one side or the other can create imbalances for the muscles of the spine and back pain. This is similar to carrying a bag on one side of your body and not switching back and forth. Good carriers also allow easy access to baby, feel comfortable to wear, and position baby’s legs so that they are supported.
For baby, it is also important to get into a comfortable and familiar position on our chest. Our babies regulate their breathing and heartbeat to us and they relax with our smell and the vibrations of our voice down our chest bones. Babies are naturally calmed when they are positioned near their carrier’s hearts, and their parents’ rhythms should be the most familiar to them.
What did we decide on? We picked up a Moby Wrap at full price and purchased an Ergo Baby carrier on an amazing discount later. These are two very well recommended carriers, though at 8 months and over 20lbs we are still yet to use our Ergo. When Derek was first born we carried him with our arms and he spent the majority of the next 45 days at home, so we didn’t have need for a carrier in that time. We then started using the Moby Wrap and that is all that we have used since, not because we dislike the Ergo, they both have been well recommended at paediatrics courses that I have taken, we just really like the Moby.
Some pluses for the Moby are the wide surface area of the material and the cross pattern of the wrap style. This maximises the weight distribution across the person carrying the baby. We also love how the Moby holds Derek snuggly against us, it is an amazing hug!
We have done a slight change to the wrap style from the options given in the instructions and have enjoyed using that wrap style the whole way through. The change made the wrap easier and faster to put on, easier to ensure the legs are being supported, and easier to adjust on the go.
Why a carrier?
Babies start inside the womb and ideally come out and get skin-on-skin, chest-to-chest contact as soon as safely possible. We did a lot of skin-to-skin contact in those first 45 days and when we transitioned to a carrier it was very smooth for Derek to be chest-to-chest in the Moby Wrap, he was already used to big hugs. At first, Derek preferred to be outdoors when in the carrier and he also preferred it when we were walking. Now we can vacuum with him in the carrier without hassle. When we go inside Costco and we don’t bring our stroller, we don’t have to worry about Derek in the shopping cart because he is strapped to one of us.
It is wonderful how your child can look around, sleep, and experience life right there with you when they are held snuggly to your chest.
Is it comfortable?
Yes, for all of us! Derek loves going for walks, hikes, or through a shop in the Moby. You can keep the fold of the material quite wide so it really disperses the weight across you upper back, shoulders, ribs, and lower back very evenly and its very easy to adjust the firmness of the tension. My wife has had a laminectomy (lower back surgery) and she even finds it comfortable to wear, though admittedly, I take as many opportunities to have Derek in the Moby as I can get.
What to look for?
Regardless of the carrier, you want to have your baby’s legs supported so they are as horizontal as possible. This is initially facilitated by having your baby facing you, chest to chest. Eventually your toddler will be too big to carry this way and should be positioned with their chest to the parent’s back. In both cases, this will keep the legs more level than if they are facing outwards. Regardless of age and carrier type, look for a carrier that is designed to support the baby by their upper legs instead of just their pelvis. I believe the Moby and the Ergo are examples of carriers that excel at this.
Enjoy holding your baby close!