Most people agree that babywearing is great for both parents and child. It has proven to make children happier and gives the parent two free hands and mobility while keeping the little one close. Despite that, it’s extremely common to shame mothers and fathers for how they carry their children.
Mom-shaming and forward-facing
Carrying a child forward-facing is something parents and celebrities are often shamed for. Stating that it’s not a good position for the baby due to the possibility of overstimulation and wrong support for neck and back. This can, of course, be the case, but is not a general rule for all children of all ages.
We at Najell do not recommend forward-facing before the age of 6 months. A newborn baby needs to be able to rest on the parent’s chest and have good support for the neck and back and should therefore not be carried forward-facing. Overstimulation can occur, especially in crowded places and something all parents should be aware of. However, more often, this is not the case. When the baby has turned 6 months old, is maturing and likes to experience and explore, forward-facing might be the prefered position.
We here at Najell believe that parents know their children the best and are able to decide what is best for their child. If your baby is irritated and unhappy in the baby carrier, you might want to change position and make sure the baby is comfortable in the baby carrier. If your child is happy, you are probably doing it the right way.
Mom-shaming and the right carrying position
Wearing your baby in the correct position is another common discussion, especially within babywearing communities. Celebrities and parents, in general, are often criticised for their way of carrying their baby, on public social platforms. But what is an ergonomic position?
The term “ergonomic” is not protected and does not have its own definition. Ergonomics is related to the study of a work environment and equipment adapted to human needs and conditions. Depending on what you compare with, we can carry in different ergonomic ways. It is an open concept and can, therefore, vary from person to person but also from different situations, and what is ergonomic for someone may not be for another. An ergonomic babywearing takes into account the child’s position and comfort for the wearer.Zarah Stolt, Swedish carrying consultant
The ergonomic position is often used when discussing baby carriers and babywearing. But there is not one position that is the best for everyone. So don’t worry too much.
A Newborn Baby & Ergonomics
An ergonomic position for a newborn baby is what usually is referred to as a natural fetal position, a frog legged position or M-shaped position. The baby’s bottom is positioned lower than the knees, and the hips are spread open. The thighs are supported and spread around the caregivers’ torso. When an infant is carried in this position, the ball of the hip joint is pressed evenly into the centre of the hip socket. This is both a natural position for a newborn and can help prevent/ease the risk of hip dysplasia and encourages healthy hip development.
A baby that is younger than 3 months of age, requires much support as they can not hold their head steadily. The baby has a natural spine curvature and the muscles are still undeveloped. This position is often described as a c-shaped back and it’s important that carriers and wraps have a soft panel allowing the baby to rest towards a parent in its natural position.
The baby achieves the c-shaped position while resting. An awake, active baby will often move, straighten out and look around to later relax in the c-shape again.
Older than 6 months & Ergonomics
What is ergonomic for a 2-month-old is usually not the same position as is considered ergonomic for an 8-month-old baby. The child develops and the muscles become stronger. When the child is able to hold the head upright, the neck and back should be straight, when in an active awake position. The possibility of a C-shaped back in a resting position (facing the parent) should also be possible as this is recommended if the baby needs to sleep. This is especially important when the child is carried for a longer period of time. The baby should be able to switch between positions instead of being forced in one specific position.
When the child is placed towards the parents, with the legs spread out around the carrier’s body, this can also be an ergonomic position for the carrier. As the baby’s weight is distributed around the parent’s body. If the baby carrier provides the weight distribution in a different way, the M-position is maybe not the most ergonomic or comfortable position for a bigger baby.
Ulrika Myhr is a physical therapist, specialized in paediatrics and in this article she explains thoroughly what to think about regarding ergonomics and babywearing.
The most important thing is that you feel comfortable
Mom-shaming or not, parents always want what is best for their children. Shaming other parents for carrying forward-facing or not with the legs spread around the parent’s body, is sometimes not even relevant as the child that is being carried is not an infant at the time. A happy baby is usually comfortable and a carried baby is (according to research) happier and cries less.
Follow your instinct and do what you believe is best for your child. In Sweden, we have a number of consultants that can help you when you are in doubt and so do many other countries. The most important thing is that you feel comfortable in your parenting style with your happy baby.
At Najell we encourage all types of carrying. We work with both health care professionals and carrying consultants and other specialists when developing our products.