Babywearing myths

Updated: Jul 2, 2021

This article was first published in the Natural Parent Magazine, 10th Anniversary Edition, Issue 40, Spring 2020.

This beautiful artwork is called "I carried you like that" by Gioia Albano via Artmajeur and is here with permission.

In celebration of the 10th anniversary of the Natural Parenting Magazine, we have gathered ten of the most common myths surrounding babywearing and busted them for you with some suggestions to manage these concerns. Every baby and wearer dyad is different, and these ideas may not remedy all difficulties and situations, in which case please seek support from a babywearing library, meet, consultant or family to help you troubleshoot.

Myth 1: Babywearing is too hot

Babywearing can be hot. Wearing chest to chest is the warmest position and the one in which many newborns will be carried. It can be worrying for new carers that the baby is overheating. The truth is that being close to a carer supports the baby’s physiology to manage their heat, meaning the carer is dispersing the heat of two bodies. The carer feeling warm and sweating helps cool the baby. It is worth considering how hot it is for a child in alternatives such as pram or car seat, without the bonus of the carer’s cooling system.

Select a carrier of a thin and natural fabric that promotes heat exchange and if appropriate, wear the baby in a hip or back carry. Dress in light, natural clothing, with the ability to remove layers such as socks and head coverings (the carrier is considered a layer of clothing for the baby). Drink plenty of water, sit in the shade or near a fan if you need, and a cool flannel on your body – not on the baby – can also help.

Myth 2: That looks like hard work - you’ve got your hands full!

Babywearing means your hands are empty and the carrier does the work, setting your upper limbs free. You can do so many things with your child in a carrier, including hold the hand of another special person, eat, drink, write, type, and generally get things done (yes, even clean the house if that’s a priority).

Myth 3: Babywearing will hurt your back and neck

It is true that a poorly fitted carrier can cause discomfort. As a physiotherapist, this one of the primary motivations to learn more about babywearing – to reduce discomfort and improve daily life for carers with carriers that hurt.

Considering the fatigue, posture, and constraints of holding a babe-in-arms for prolonged periods, a well-fitted and appropriately sized carrier makes it a dream to wear your baby. With support in all the right spots and weight distributed across your body, plus a bit of postural adjustment as needed, the carrier does all the work. And when the carrier does all the work, there is less work for your body to do and less risk of injury.

Myth 4: Babywearing will spoil the child and make them clingy

In short, a baby cannot be spoilt or held too much. The neurological, physical, emotional, mental, social, developmental benefits for a baby being held close to a carer are enormous and all carers can be reassured that endless cuddles with their baby are doing everyone good! (1)

Holding your baby provides them with a safe place, where they can seek solace from the exciting, overwhelming, and busy world beyond. Knowing this safe place exists supports your child’s attachment to their carer and this sense of security encourages them to develop into an independent, resilient, and compassionate human being. (2)

All carers and children are different and in everything parenting, what works one day may not work the next. As with any relationship, listen to your child and yourself and wear your baby as much and as often as you both enjoy it.

Myth 5: Babywearing creates bad sleeping habits

Napping in a carrier has sometimes been given a bad rap and labelled junk sleep, when babywearing may help your baby’s sleep pattern. Wearing a child during the day can help calibrate their circadian clock. Day naps in the carrier, surrounded by noise, light and activity, contrast to night sleeps in a quiet, dark room. This helps the child to differentiate between day and night and aids regulation of healthy sleep. (3)

Additionally, babywearing helps families meet the needs of all members. Many carers choose to manage their daily rhythm with babywearing, rather than being constrained to the home because the baby is sleeping. This is especially true for families with subsequent children, where older siblings need to go to school or other activities.

Myth 6: Babywearing is dangerous

It is safe to wear your baby in an appropriate carrier in an optimal, supported, upright position, fitted according to the Babywearing Practice SAFE acronym:

· Secure – baby is securely attached to the carer’s body

· Airways – baby is upright, head is neutral, mouth and nose are unobstructed, chin is off chest

· Firm – baby is firmly held in the carrier, with no gaps between baby and carer’s body or carrier

· Eyeline – baby is in view and you can see them easily

Please seek help if you have any queries or concerns about the safety of your carrier.