Sunday, March 17, 2013

On babywearing - infant positioning

I’m finally going to do something about the lack of babywearing posts on my blog, so if you’re not here for that, feel free to leave now. If you are here for that; today I’ll talk about how to properly position your baby in a wrap or carrier. How do I know all of this? I had 3 months of maternity leave and lots of procrastination time after that learning about babywearing online and by doing it myself.

Position of the hips and back
When a baby is just born, his spine is in a C-position as opposed to our adult spines that are shaped like the letter S. So to optimally position your baby in a wrap or carrier, you want to imitate as best as you can the natural C-shape of your baby’s spine (Figure 1).
Figure 1. Source

In order for that to happen you want to make sure that his knees are higher than his bottom, which is the way most babies are positioned in the womb too. When a baby grows up and learns to hold his head up and when they learn to crawl their spines are starting to curve more like our adult spines, however even with older babies and toddlers you want to make sure that they are in this position, because it is not only key for proper spine development, but also for the development of their hips (Lots more about his, including references can be found here). So it is important to make sure you have a carrier with a wide seat that supports baby’s legs from one knee to the other. Carriers with a narrower seat will cause your baby to have their knees lower than their bottom, which may cause hip dysplasia, and causes most of baby’s weight to be on their pubic bone instead of divided over their entire upper legs and bottom (Figure 2).
Figure 2. Source

Position of the neck and head
Especially with a really small baby, it is important to make sure that you are not blocking their airway when babywearing. Make sure you can put a finger under their chin and when you’re just starting to wear your baby be mindful of their breathing. The best way to carry a newborn is tummy-to-tummy (like in Figure 1), and not in the cradle carry that is often recommended by manufacturers of stretchy wraps. When wearing your baby tummy-to-tummy, for example in a Front Wrap Cross Carry in a stretchy or woven wrap, make sure he is high enough on your chest that you can give him a kiss on the top of his head.

Facing forward
With what I discussed before about the position of the hip and spine, it is easy to imagine why carrying a baby facing forward is not recommended. It is nearly impossible to get baby’s back in a C-shape when he is with his back against your tummy, and it is also almost impossible to get the knees higher than the bottom in this position. Another argument against having your baby face forward is that it is impossible for the baby to ignore all the stimuli around him, whereas if he is facing you, he can much easier look away in crowded situations. Many people argue that their baby wants to look around and that that is impossible without having them face forward. However a high back carry of hip carry is much more appropriate for this and allows for good positioning of your baby.

Next time I'll talk about the different carriers and wraps that are out there.


  1. Great post! I want to read all about baby wearing these days.

  2. any tips on where to get a relatively inexpensive one? I am making a baby registry and want to put a wrap on there.

    1. Hi! For a newborn you can start with a stretchy wrap, like the Moby wrap. However, I found the Moby to be very warm when BlueEyes was born in the summer. So another, cooler and also cheap option is a gauze cotton wrap, for example from Babyette Hope this helps!