The benefits of babywearing are endless, from giving young bubs the comfort and safety they need, to assisting with reflux and digestion. And when trying to settle a crying baby, they can be invaluable.
Some babies squirm and become unsettled when first placed into a baby carrier, but the key to keeping them content is to keep moving and to change up the environment they are in.
Babywearing consultant Brooke Maree shares with us her top tips on settling babies in a baby carrier, including how to use different styles of carriers and the best ages to use them.
How to settle newborns in a carrier
Stretchy baby wraps are one of the best options for little newborns. Held right up close to their caregiver’s heart, a stretchy wrap provides a snug and supportive fit for a new baby.
As you’ll be spending a lot of time at home those first few weeks and months with your new baby, you’re going to have to get creative with movement at home (and laps of the hallway can get a bit repetitive!). Two great options: An exercise ball & a rocking nursing chair.
With your wrap all tied up and baby content, take a seat on the exercise ball and gently bounce up and down. Make sure you have the right size ball so that your feet stay firmly on the ground at all times and hold onto the wall for support if you need.
Similarly, in a reclined rocking chair, take a seat and gently rock back and forth. Making sure at all times your baby’s airways remain clear and unobstructed and you monitor them closely the whole time. The great thing about stretchy wraps is that they don’t have any buckles that might dig into you if you were to sit down – perfect for those newborn days at home.
Settling older bubs in a carrier
Once your baby is a little older and you’re ready to venture outside the house, walks outside in nature are a perfect way to calm your baby and keep them content. They love the gentle motion of being rocked while you walk, after all, it mimics what they felt in the womb.
Structured buckle carriers are great for bigger walks and adventures. Buckle your baby in, make sure you follow the TICKS Babywearing Safety guidelines and go about your day with your hands-free and your baby content.
If your baby is upset, getting outside for fresh air can make a significant difference in calming them down. There are different objects to look out, different sounds to hear, it can be a welcomed distraction if they are still a bit unsure of the carrier at first.
Once you’re feeling more confident, you could even try specific exercise classes with your baby in the carrier. Kangatraining is a unique postnatal exercise program modified specifically to be safe with a baby held in a carrier. These classes often get babies fast asleep with the gentle movement and the music. Give it a go for something different and fun.
Top tips for babywearing at home
Being in a baby carrier is a new experience and some babies will require a bit more patience and encouragement to come around to the idea more than others. Some other top tips would be to:
- Start babywearing as soon as possible after birth to make it as familiar and normal as possible from the beginning.
- See a babywearing consultant to make sure it’s not a simple tweak and adjustment that just has to be made.
- Try hip carries or forward-facing carriers if the issue is not being able to see around enough (age-appropriate of course)
- Make sure it’s none of the common reasons your baby might be unsettled like hunger, overtired, pain, wet nappy etc.
If you’re persistent, have tried to change up the environment, and have excluded every other possibility then it’s a good idea to get the assessment of a paediatric physiotherapist or chiropractor to check if there are any underlying issues that we can’t see on the surface.
Some bubs like their personal space more than others, but if they want to be carried in-arms constantly (#normal) than we should be able to get them settled and content in a carrier.
Give these ideas a go in helping to settle your crying baby in the carrier.
Brooke Maree is a Babywearing Educator & mother of two based in Brisbane. She is passionate about parents finding joy and confidence in their roles by using a baby carrier or sling to make their lives easier. An expert in her field, she provides educational blogs, video tutorials, a monthly podcast, private consultations and workshops.
Find out more about her services at Brooke Maree.
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