Article by Dr. Stephanie Bonn, Vancouver mom and chiropractor with Coco Chiropractic Wellness in Yaletown, on helping you choose the right baby carrier.
Benefits to Baby Wearing
There are many benefits to wearing your baby while you go about your day, especially the positive impact it has on your baby’s development. Car seats can cause postural strain for both the mother and the baby. Strollers have restricted postural options for the baby’s developing cranium and spine, which affects all aspects of their health and well being. Baby wearing is great – but how do you protect everyone’s back while you’re doing it?
A proper baby carrier is important for your spine as it recovers from nine months of pregnancy, as well as childbirth. After giving birth hormones cause ligaments to be less supportive, increasing your chance of injury. Along with choosing the right carrier, you can benefit from a fitness program to strengthen the core muscles in your tummy and back, as well stretching the pectorals/chest muscles on a regular basis. Even just sitting on an exercise ball can help your abs get stronger after being stretched to their max.
The right baby carrier will distribute your baby’s weight more evenly to avoid injuries. Wearing your baby is a form of weight-bearing exercise itself. On top of that, just by wearing a baby carrier you’ll do more walking. With your baby close, you will have an increase in “happy” hormones which will decrease the baby blues. You can be hands-free and easily multitask with your baby along for the ride. And don’t forget the environmental benefits (who needs a car? and one less stroller to manufacture!) for a greener earth.
Because babies should sleep on their back, it’s important to have them upright or on their tummy during the day. Not many infants enjoy lying on their tummies, so a baby carrier is a great way to strengthen their neck and back and avoid a flat head. Other benefits include a decrease in separation anxiety, more efficient daytime naps, a better latch for nursing and less crying.
Choosing a Baby Carrier
Here are a few things to consider when choosing a baby carrier:
- Does the carrier offer various positions: front, side, back?
- Are there numerous positions for the baby: forward facing, chest facing, vertical, horizontal, legs folded or straight?
- How long will the carrier accommodate the child’s growth and postural development?
- Is it difficult to transfer the baby in and out of the carrier?
- Can your baby breastfeed in the carrier?
- Are you hands-free?
- Is the weight of the baby evenly distributed?
- Does the carrier optimally support your baby’s developing spine?
You may find that one carrier does not do it all. My favourites are a sling for shorter excursions and a carrier with balanced weight distribution (where the baby can be carried on your front or back) for longer outings. Baby wearing will optimize your health and wellness and support the growth and development of your baby, so do it as long as you can!
Dr. Stephanie Bonn owns Coco Chiropractic, an integrative health clinic dedicated to optimizing family health and wellness through chiropractic care, reflexology, holistic nutrition, massage therapy, acupuncture, doula care, and naturopathic medicine. After receiving her Doctor of Chiropractic from Canadian Memorial Chiropractic College, she continued to study prenatal, postnatal and pediatric care with the International Chiropractic Pediatric Association.