Common concerns about babywearing:

 Babywearing leads to postural deformity in babies.
 Babywearing harms the mother's back.
Babywearing spoils your baby.
 If a child gets used to being carried you can't do anything else!
 Babies carried in slings don't get enough oxygen.
 You can't wrap your baby in blankets like in a pram so he freezes more easily when being carried.

 

Babywearing leads to postural deformity in babies

This has never been proven so far. On the contrary researcher Evelyn Kirkilionis found less postural deformities in 192 carried babies compared to the average population.
Looking at baby's anatomy supports this: A newborn's spine is rounded and the spine straightens gradually during the first year of life. The typical S-shape is reached once a child begins to walk. Being carried with a rounded back is therefore more natural for a baby than lying flat on her back. However, it's important that the baby is carried close to the babywearer's body and that her back is supported by the carrier like by a firm bandage. The movements while being carried helps strengthen baby's muscles.
Regarding hip dysplasia it's been scientifically proven that babywearing can improve the condition and even remove the need for further treatment. Carrying your baby in the correct M-position allows the femural head to be centered in the hip socket which is ideal for the development of the hips.

 

Babywearing harms the mother's back.

If a mother carries her baby regularly from the birth she trains her muscles and they will be strengthened according to the increasing weight of her baby. Besides a good carrier spreads baby's weight well over the mother's back and - depending on the carrier - also on her hips.
When the baby gets heavier he can be carried on the mother's back. This reduces the strain on her as she's often used to carrying a backpack anyway.
Some women report that the continual training by carrying their babies improved their bad backs.

For mothers with back problems it's especially important to choose the right way to carry a baby. The baby should be as close a possible to the mother so her centre of gravity is affected as little as possible and she needn't counterbalance her baby's weight by assuming a bad posture. Backcarries are particularly advisable for mothers with back problems. Did you know that with a woven wrap it's even possible to carry a newborn on your back?

 

Babywearing spoils your baby.

A baby CANNOT be spoilt during the first 9-10 months of his life. Body contact and loving attention are basic needs and have to be fulfilled in order to prevent stress in your baby. Answering baby's need for closeness and contact reliably lays the foundation for basic trust and will make your child self-confident and independent later on.

 

If a child gets used to being carried you can't do anything else!

Of course this seems to be true on first glance. However, if you accept that being close to a parent is one of the basic needs of your baby, you'll realise that there are lots of advantages in babywearing.
Initially baby's instincts tell him that he'll be lost if he isn't close and he'll be in distress and cry if left alone 'in the wild'. Later you'll discover that his natural curiosity, his desire to communicate and to explore won't keep him alone in his play corner for long. Therefore the parent will end up running back and forth between the baby and the job or chore she (or he) actually wants to do and often end up with him on the arm. If you instead have your baby in a comfortable carrier you can do your chores around the house or look after your older children hands-free and with a content baby.

 

Babies carried in slings don't get enough oxygen.

Mostly wrong. A scientific study by Stening has shown that the oxygen saturation of babies carried in a wrap goes down so little that it poses no threat to baby's health at all. If using a good sling correctly there is no problem at all with baby's breathing.
However, if you use a bag sling, pouch or ring sling with your baby in the cradle position you have to make sure that her chin isn't pressed to her breast and that the sling doesn't close and prevent fresh air from getting to your baby. This issue can be really dangerous especially for newborns, and in fact there have been cases reported of newborns dying in certain bag slings. For more information about this see http://babyslingsafety.blogspot.com/ and http://www.thebabywearer.com/articles/HowTo/Positioning.pdf and http://blogs.consumerreports.org.

 

You can't wrap your baby in blankets like in a pram so he freezes more easily when being carried.

When it's cold outside it's important to dress your baby correctly and chose an appropriate way to carry her. When a baby is carried on the parent's front and ideally under the parent's coat she will be warmed by her parent and most certainly not freeze. Just make sure that her head and feet are extra covered.
A back carry over the parent's coat can be quite unsuitable because the baby isn't warmed by the parent's body and - as she's not moving - can get cold quite easily. Also it's much harder for the parent to check baby's body temperature when she is on the back.

 

 


References:

Evelyn Kirkilionis: Ein Baby will getragen sein
Kösel, München 1999
ISBN 3-466-34408-5

Waltraud Stening, MD, Patrizia Nitsch, MD, Gernot Wassmer, PhD and Bernhard Roth, MD: Cardiorespiratory Stability of Premature and Term Infants Carried in Infant Slings; PEDIATRICS Vol. 110 No. 5 November 2002, pp. 879-883

 


© Mirjam Brockmann 2009 and rabeneltern.org