Posts Tagged ‘Babywearing’

Carrying a Toddler on the Back or Hip – Our Newest Video is Online!

While using my Beco Butterfly II to carry Finn, who is 2 and is at my house during the day two days a week, it dawned on me that a lot of Beco users probably don’t know their carrier can also be used for an assisted hip carry. Finn had been riding on my back but wanted to walk for a while, and then slowed down considerably – if we were ever going to make it to the library, I needed to pick him up for a while! Without a carrier, that would mean throwing him on my hip, or with the carrier, normally I would have gotten him back on my back. Plus, I’d be carrying the carrier in my arms when he walked. This is one of the things I love about the Beco Butterfly II – when he got down to walk, I rolled it up, secured it, and buckled it around my waist. Then when he got tired, I picked him up and he rode on my hip, with my arms around him – the same as carrying him on my hip, only with my spine in proper alignment, so much easier on my back! I wanted to share this great feature with our clients and with people who might be shopping around for a carrier. Of course, the Beco Butterfly II also works great right from the newborn stage.


Why We Don’t Recommend a Forward-Facing Carry

by J. M. Cavanagh, staff, Babes in Arms

(revised Feb. 14/11)

When I am out and about with my family, or having a break by myself, I often see parents or caretakers wearing a baby facing away from the wearer’s body. Many babies seem to really enjoy this position, and parents often want to use this position as long as they can. However, based on a number of factors, we recommend that babies should always be facing the body of the person wearing them. Here are some reasons why:
As humans much of our body is still developing after birth. At birth our eyesight isn’t top notch yet; we don’t have kneecaps made of bone (they are cartilage until age 3 to 5); we can’t manage without someone to care for us; and our spines are not straight. Well, our spine is never truly straight — it has a slight curve to it at both ends, like a drawn out “S”. At birth, babies’ spines are a convex curve, or a long open-ish “C” shape. They straighten as we get stronger and bigger. When a baby is carried facing in, in a “froggy,” half lotus (a yoga pose, basically crisscrossed legs, but still sitting on bum, not sitting on legs) or seated position, with the bum lower than the knees, this convex curve is kept. But when a baby is in a facing-out position, not only is the spine straightened, it can actually become concave, the opposite of convex.
What is this like? Because an adult breastbone (which the baby is held against in this position) is quite hard, we can imagine that this position, legs dangling with back to the parent’s chest, might feel similar to being an adult in a climbing or safety harness, unable to really move or readjust your body, with your back against a wall.
Something to be taken into account when thinking about the spine, is that it determines the function of the nervous system, and the nervous system controls all body systems. Therefore, a nervous system stressed by a compromised spine will affect the body’s overall ability to be healthy. Having baby in a facing-out position runs the risk of putting undue stress on baby’s spine, which can lead to a medical condition called spondylolisthesis. Spondylolisthesis is defined as the forward slipping of a vertebra on the one below it. Basically, when a person’s back is forced into an unnatural angle, especially with the added stress of gravity, the vertebra in the back can become compressed and slip. A young baby’s spine and back muscles are not actually developed enough to bear all of baby’s body weight. Compare this to a facing-in position in which it is possible to place baby’s knees higher than their bum – for newborns, in a supported squat, or for older babies, with legs coming around the parent’s waist – where baby’s weight is spread across their bum and things instead of being held by their lower spine.
For me, one argument in particular against forward facing carries is especially compelling. While the studies I am quoting for this paragraph were done on adults, the possibility that there is even a chance the same effects could happen to a baby in a carrier where their legs are dangling must give us pause.
The University of Texas Medical Branch Hospital has done a couple of studies on orthostatic intolerance in astronauts, and on safety harnesses used by workers, or others needing fall protection. Many employee safety organizations have also done such studies. They have found that when a person is suspended in a safety harness, with legs dangling relaxed beneath their body, it seems comfortable; and actually the test subject never really experiences any discomfort. Then, in as little as three minutes they start feeling warm. Often the next symptom is unconsciousness, the next sometimes death. This is called suspension trauma. Most of the time the trauma isn’t as severe as death. In the best case scenario, no permanent damage is done; but it can lead to nerve and or tissue damage, sometimes in as little as five minutes, and sometimes permanent.
Let me reiterate that to my knowledge the above research has only been done on adults, the worst damage occurring when the person is dangling with their legs hanging freely under them in a relaxed position, and that these are worst case scenarios, unlikely to happen to a baby if only because the person carrying the baby would hopefully notice something was wrong before it could get that bad. To my knowledge there have not yet been any studies on the subject of babies being carried in a similar position. As an added concern for the legs-dangling position in general,  thinking of baby boys in particular, there is the concern that their weight is resting on their crotch, a position that seems to cause discomfort for quite a few baby boys based on our observations.
Thinking of the wellbeing of the parent or wearer, when baby is facing out, it also changes the weight distribution for whoever is carrying baby, placing the weight on your shoulders instead of the core of your back. You should never lift or carry weight with your shoulders, as it can quickly lead to discomfort and disalignment of the vertebrae. For mom this change in weight distribution also puts a lot of pressure on her pelvic floor: baby’s weight is pulling her forward, away from her centre of gravity, causing her to lean back to compensate. This in turn causes her to push her hips forward, which does not allow her to give her pelvic floor proper muscular support – right at the time her pelvic floor should be regaining strength.
One of the common reasons I am told by parents that they want to be able to carry their baby facing out is that the baby “likes it,” and seems to want the stimulation. The problem with this is that facing out can often lead to over-stimulation for baby. Unfortunately over-stimulation is not always crystal clear for us to recognize as parents — what seems like happiness, excitement and engagement in baby may be over-stimulation, and upon placing the over-stimulated, seemingly happy baby facing-in in an ergonomically correct position many times we see the baby go straight to sleep.
When facing out, baby can hear the voice and the heartbeat of the caregiver or parent, and can smell that the caregiver or parent is there, but can’t see them. This may be disconcerting for baby. Add to that all the other sounds and sights, many of which may not even be clearly in focus, and disconcerting can quickly become overstimulated and overwhelmed.
All of this said, some babies are more likely to crave interactivity and periods of stimulation. For short periods, as an alternative to a forward-facing position, we recommend a seated cradle position in a ring or pouch sling for babies with good head control who cannot yet sit on their own; a hip carry in a ring or pouch sling for babies who are able to sit on their own; or a high back carry for babies with good back strength who can bring their legs comfortably around the body of the parent wearing them. Each of these positions will support baby’s back in its natural curvature, spread their weight through their bum and thighs and allow them to alternately see their surroundings and retreat toward the safety of their caregiver’s chest or back, while keeping baby in the wearer’s centre of gravity, allowing them to maintain proper posture.
So with all of these concerns, why bother wearing our babies? Why not utilize a seat or carrier so we don’t have to worry about any of these problems? Well, besides the fact that there are concerns over safety and health issues with baby spending extended amounts of time in these carseats and on hard surfaces, wearing your baby is good for them. It just needs to be done correctly — and knowledge is power. The optimum way to carry your baby is chest to chest, facing in, in a “froggy” position or supported squat, a half lotus (a yoga pose, basically crossed legs, but still sitting on bum, not sitting on legs) or in a seated position, with the bum lower than the knees. Also, baby’s bum should always be above your belly button in order to keep their weight within your centre of gravity.
There are many benefits for babies. When in the seated position, with the legs lower than the knees, your baby is basically doing the tummy time that doctors recommend occur daily – just in your arms. Building brain synapses, muscle development, nerve development, and hip development, just like if they were lying on their tummy on the floor. This position is also often used to correct minor birth trauma, like hip dysplasia. Neurological development happens the way it should, because of the continued contact, touch and motion which mimics the time baby spent in the womb, turning what has the possibility to be an alarming environment into one that feels familiar and safe. A baby that is worn instead of spending the majority of the day lying flat or at a slight angle is also less likely to end up with a flattened head. Carrying baby helps with bonding; helps baby regulate breathing, temperature, and heart beat; helps enhance learning and social development and emotional health; can lessen crying and colic; allows baby mild stimulation through interacting with the person wearing baby; and enables the wearer to have their hands free.
J. M. Cavanagh
As sort of an afterthought, I just wanted to add that this article is in no way meant to be me saying you are a bad parent. I believe that we all do the best we can with the information that we have available to us. Please take this as a sharing of information, rather than a judgment. My oldest child is 9 years old, I didn’t have this information when she was a baby; I did wear her in a bad carrier, facing out. She is okay, but I wish someone had told me why it could be dangerous.
Works Cited and Bibliography

Effect of Forces on the Growth, Development, and Maintenance
Physical Therapy December 1984 vol. 64 no. 12 1874-1882

Craniofacial Pain: Neuromusculoskeletal Assessment, Treatment and Management,  By Harry J. M. Von Piekartz

Neuro-developmental treatment approach: theoretical foundations and principals of clinical practice, By Janet M. Howle

Baby Spine Development, Bridget Coila

Infant Carriers and Spinal Stress, by Rochelle L. Casses, D.C.; 1996 by The Liedloff Society for the Continuum Concept;

Hensinger, R. N.; Spondylolysis and Spondylolisthesis in Children and Adolescents; Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery, August 1989 71A: 1098-1107

Baby Wearing – Suggestions for Carrying Your Baby: A Chiropractic Perspective;  Jeanne Ohm, DC; ICPA, Pathways to Family Wellness, Issue #10

Why Wear Your Baby?; Sharon Reuven;  ICPA, Pathways to Family Wellness, Issue #05

Great Times in the Mother’s Day Walk!

We headed out for the SportChek Mother’s Day Walk in support of Calgary NICU’s today. It was snowing before we started but by the end of the first kilometre the sun had broken through! It was great to have 11 of us walking, 10 with babies or bigger children being carried (three four-year-olds riding on parents!) – the one person without anyone riding was owner Lindsay Ross’s mom, and she had no one to carry.

Thanks to everyone who came out to take part and to those who cheered us on. Happy Mother’s Day!!

Come out for a babywearing walkabout!

Join us for a fun day of babywearing promotion. We will be touring Chinook mall, handing out babywearing information, and running on the spot demos for interested mall goers. Help us showcase babywearing and shine a light on proper positioning and safety awarness when using a carrier. We need lots of members and carriers out for this main event in Calgary. We will be meeting at the main doors at 10 am.

Retractable Rear-view Mirrors

We now carry retractable, palm-sized mirrors that hook onto your belt-loop. They’re perfect for checking on baby while they ride on your back!

Carry and Click Mama Mingle

There are still some spots left in this Thursday’s Wee Welcome Carry and Click Mama Mingle at Eau Claire Market. It’s going to be great! Come out and learn to more effectively use your digital camera to take gorgeous photos of your child, and then enjoy a nice walk through Prince’s Island Park while we learn how better to use our carriers (or learn the basics of carriers in order to decide which is best for you).

The write-up from Wee Welcome:

“Start: Jul 16 2009 – 10:30

End: Jul 16 2009 – 12:30

Summer is so nice to be out and about which is perfect for parenting on the go!
Let’s make this summer a picture perfect and fun experience with your little person.
We will be meeting by the fountain at Eau Claire Market and going for a walk around Prince’s Island Park. First bring your cameras and learn how to take great pictures of your children. If you are like me, you know how to point and click and maybe zoom…but what about all of the other settings and icons, what are they for?
Jana Miko from Miko Photography will help us out as we make our way towards our Carrier clinic with Babes in Arms. Bring your carries along and learn new ways to be comfortable with your carrier and look at growing options for both parents and your child…(on your back perhaps)
Experience Prince’s Island through baby’s eyes and enjoy summer treats and a swag of offers to take home with you.

Please contact Michelle at if you have any questions.


HOW TO Sign-up: You must be a Wee Welcome member and
logged in to acesss the Sign-Up Feature. If you are not yet a member, it’s free to join.”

Visit Wee Welcome for more information. Hope to see you there!

Supportive Size Five Didymos Wraps in Stock!

We have a beautiful Indio Yew (pictured) and another beautiful Indio Lago in size five, perfect for carrying heavy kids! Both are a 40% linen blend (60% organic cotton). Are you a small person with a big kid that wants a ride on your back? Or just a parent planning for the long-term? Check these out!


Our response to the Motrin ad

Many of you have probably already viewed Motrin’s ad in which they portray babywearing as painful, and something that moms do only because they feel pressured and because it is trendy. We could go on and on about just what we *really* think about the ad, but chances are many of you are thinking the same things – and besides that, it has all already been said online by many intelligent viewers.

So here is our response. If you are finding that you require a painkiller to get through the day wearing your baby, either you are a) wearing a poorly designed carrier, b) wearing the wrong size of carrier, or c) wearing your carrier incorrectly. No one who wears a baby or child in a sling, wrap or carrier of any type should be feeling pain associated with the practice (unless it’s the pain your out-of-shape heart and lungs may feel lugging your 35 lb 2.5 year old up a mountain on your back… for that I would recommend prior training. Just trust me on this one.). You should not be feeling pain in your back, neck or shoulders. In fact, that is one of the main reason Babes in Arms exists! We’re here to help you, whether you own a product from our store, one you purchased elsewhere or one you made yourself. We want to see you wearing your little one happily and comfortably. Please do not hesitate to call or e-mail us, or come into the store if you are ever having any sort of problem carrying your child.

As for the implications of the video… babywearing is a wonderful bonding experience. Scientific studies have shown that babies who are carried more do cry less, and in fact, contrary to the ad’s claim, mothers who wear their babies cry less as well, as anecdotal evidence shows that babywearing can help ease post partum depression. And just so you know – we have more faith in you than Motrin does. We know that you don’t make parenting choices to feel validated or because of fashion. In fact, we’re thrilled to say that we think our customers are some of the most intelligent, logical and thoughtful of any client base around.