Any element of parenting is full of myths and old wives’ tales, and babywearing is no different. While these are slowly dying out, there are still people desperate to tell you that baby carriers aren’t safe, aren’t comfortable, are too tricky to use… the list goes on. So we’re here to bust five more babywearing myths (you can see our last blog on this here)! Take a look and see if any of them sound familiar…
Myth 1: “All baby carriers cause neck or back pain.”
This is the one we hear the most and it’s normally the easiest to fix! If a carrier is causing pain it is usually due to the incorrect use or fit of the carrier. One of the most common problems is that baby is too low and the back strap that connects both arms straps isn’t positioned correctly.
Many parents think that this connecting strap between the shoulder straps is only there to prevent the straps from slipping off the shoulders. As a result, this strap receives little attention and often remains at the top of the neck because then it’s easier to reach and close when putting on the baby. However, this causes baby’s weight to pull forwards and it can press uncomfortably on the cervical spine which in some cases leads to neck pain. This strap, along with the lumbar support on the waist belt, are responsible for ergonomic and back-friendly weight distribution and keeping you upright. The connecting belt should always sit in the middle of your shoulder blades and form an H together with the shoulder straps. It’s on sliders so it can be easily adjusted.
If you can’t reach it there then you can leave it done up and put your carrier on using the t-shirt method. Or try the criss-cross “X” straps where you cross the straps in the middle of your back – also at the height of the middle of your shoulder blades – if your carrier allows it.
Myth 2: “Having baby facing outwards isn’t ergonomic or safe.”
Clear answer: this is untrue – with the right carrier! And as with everything, it depending on the correct usage, the respective carrying situation and the right carrier. Ergonomics are key here so keep your eyes open when buying a baby carrier! Think carefully about which carrying positions you use and need in everyday life. But before you even think about outwards you’ll also need to make sure your carrier is ergonomic in all positions, starting with the inward-facing carrying positions. Baby’s head, back and thighs should always be well supported and their legs should always be in the squat-spread position i.e. the legs should not dangle straight down. This means that there is no risk of the weight being in the child’s genital area. In our Ergobaby carriers the carrier panel can be adjusted to fit the child perfectly as they grow.
Then, from approx. 5-6 months, once baby has full head and neck control, you can start to trial them facing the world. Just like with inwards facing – ergonomics are important! You need a carrier that adjusts to support them in this position, the front of the panel should be made narrower – most of our carriers have buttons or sliders or tabs to help you do this – between their legs to support them correctly. And once again, you’re always looking for that spread-squat position and for baby’s legs to be supported from knee to knee – no dangly legs!
Final reminders – for outwards facing, baby always needs to be awake, happy, in a low-stimulus environment. You need to monitor them to check they don’t get sleepy, fussy or ‘zone out’ as these are signs it’s time to turn them back around. You can find out more about how and when you can carry your baby in a relaxed forward-facing position in this checklist.
Myth 3: “Baby carriers are stiff compared to slings.”
This can sometimes be the case depending on the material of the baby carrier; however, this is not a disadvantage, but has to do with the respective construction and in which weight class the baby carrier can be used. So don’t be put off if you hold both sling and baby carrier in your hands in a shop or during a consultation, and feel like the carrier isn’t as snuggly. Also, it helps to remember that the materials become softer with use, both with the sling and the baby carrier. It also makes sense to wash [LINK TO HOW TO WASH YOUR CARRIER BLOG] the baby carriers before using them for the first time.
And of course, you can opt for a carrier with as soft a material as possible! Our Embrace newborn carrier is perfect for starting out with babywearing after baby’s birth. These carriers are made from a particularly soft and cosy knit fabric and fit like a tailor-made t-shirt. Plus they are super easy to use! Later, when your baby is heavier, you can switch to a more structured and supportive carrier.
Our Adapt and Omni carriers come in our softest fabric, SoftTouchTM Cotton, and also SoftFlexTM Mesh – the clue is in the name! The SoftTouchTM Cotton is an extra soft brushed fabric to keep you and baby cosy and snuggly, and the SoftFlexTM Mesh is designed for maximum airflow and breathability.
And our Aerloom carrier is in a class of its own! Its specially designed FormaKnitTM fabric is a flexible knit fabric made from post-consumer, recycled polyester yarns. It stretches and shapes to fit the unique contours of your body, creating a supportive, custom fit for both you and your baby.
You can work out which carrier best suits your family, your plans and your needs using the handy quiz on our homepage.
Myth 4: “A baby wrap is hard to tie.”
First of all, we get it! Wraps can look daunting, there’s a lot of material and what looks like a lot of complicated steps to tie it around your body. But, we’ve got you! We’ve got detailed instructions and a whole bunch of handy videos on our website and social media channels, all our wraps are made with a special guiding edge to help you keep track of what goes where when you’re putting it on and we have a game-changing top tip for you – the pre-tie! You can tie your wrap once when you first put baby in for the day and then leave it on to pop them in and out as you need throughout the day. It’s made from a lightweight fabric so you shouldn’t get too warm and then it’s ready to go whenever you need it! Trust us when we say, like anything, practice makes it easier. It might not be easy the first time or the third time but by the fifth time you’ll be getting there, and by the tenth time you’ll be doing it as quick as anything!
If you’re still not sure? Our Embrace newborn carrier is the best of both baby wrap and baby carrier worlds! It’s soft and stretchy like a wrap but with the structure and buckles of a carrier to make life as easy as possible for you.
Myth 5: “Woven slings, halfbuckles or MeiTais are usually made of sling fabric and therefore provide better support.”
This is an outdated misconception that sometimes gains traction online. There are now so many great materials and designs available, all of which provide good support. Anyone who is really familiar with the science of babywearing knows that an ergonomic fit for the child and parents, comfort (even when worn for long periods), and the use of the product in question are crucial.
Half-buckles or MeiTai carriers are often tied too loosely by parents and do not fit symmetrically, so that the child is not adequately supported, and the parents also get back pain because the material cuts in or sits in the wrong place. In lots of cases, there is insufficient head support for the child and no padded edges, e.g. in the child’s leg area, for more comfort. We have therefore designed our baby carriers to be comfortable as well as easy and intuitive to use and to distribute the child’s weight evenly across the parent’s body.
Once you’ve learnt the basics, the only adjustments you’ll need to make are for the best ergonomics and maximum comfort. There are no unnecessary bells and whistles. And as we mentioned, we have tonnes practical instruction videos in which you can find lots of tips on using your carrier and how to position your baby correctly.
Baby carriers and baby wraps – always a good choice
We hope that we have been able to guide you through the jungle of myths! We think that carrying is always a good choice. And as we said, if you still need help finding the right Ergobaby carrier, take the quiz here. Or head to your local sling library for a demonstration on using a baby wrap or baby carrier, they are a fantastic resource! Whatever product you choose we hope you love it and love babywearing!