top of page

Yes! You can do that while babywearing!

Updated: Apr 7



a lady doing yoga on one leg with a baby in a carrier

This article was first published in the Natural Parent Magazine, Issue 52, 2023, alongside this beautiful artwork by Leanne Crowe - and here with permission.


Carers of small humans often have questions about how to safely carry their babies and continue to manage family life. We still need to take care of ourselves and our household, whilst also trying to figure out how to care for the newest addition. Happily, once you’ve mastered the skills of safely donning and doffing the carrier, there is little that is not possible to do whilst babywearing! (1,2).

 

With some consideration given to possible safety concerns, carers can continue to do most of their usual day-to-day activities with their babies nestled into their chests. Some may not always be conventional, however sometimes things that work might look a little different to the glossy pages of the magazines. If knowing these things, and giving ourselves permission to try something different, helps to make the days with our babies more joyful, then perhaps it’s worth trying. 

 

Eating and drinking

 

Yes! Both carer and child can eat and drink while babywearing.

 

It is a common query of parents whether they can breastfeed in a carrier. Many mothers can safely and effectively breastfeed whilst babywearing, although all carriers will require adjustment to allow the child suitable access to the breast. This is a developed skill, so would be one that could be explored once feeling confident with babywearing and once breastfeeding is well-established. It is helpful to remember that prolonged physical contact of the mother and baby via babywearing can also support maternal responsiveness to infant hunger cues. Responsive breastfeeding can also support longer duration of breastfeeding (1,2).

 

Bottle feeding milk to infants is not safe in a carrier, due the adjustments required to allow for baby’s positioning, head movement, and swallowing. Once the child grows and starts solids and other fluids, it may be convenient to sate hunger and thirst via snacks such as bananas, while sips of drinks can be offered via a vessel with a straw. The carrier may need to be adjusted to allow for observation, head movement and safe swallowing whilst in the carrier. For full meals, it is preferable to have the child out of the carrier both from a safety and mess perspective.

 

Carers can eat and drink to their hearts content while their child has a snuggle on their chest. Just be prepared to share and wear the mess once babies get older! There are obvious considerations around hot foods and beverages that could burn if spilled, and use of sharp utensils that little fingers can grab.

 

Sleeping

 

Yes! Children can sleep whilst being held in a carrier.

 

Babywearing must first and foremost be safe for both wearer and child, whether the child is awake or asleep. Primarily, the baby must be upright with their spine well supported so that their airway is not compromised. It is inevitable that a baby will fall asleep in a carrier, and parents may be reassured that babies may safely sleep upright and supported in a carrier, when recommendations for safe sleep usually involve their baby lying in a clear flat space on their back (3, 4). It is not safe, however, for adults to sleep while holding a child in a carrier. Neither is it safe to sleep with a baby whilst seated upright, nor on a couch or a sofa. If you feel sleepy, the best action would be to transfer the child to a clear, flat bed and snuggle in for a nap together (3, 4).

 

There are other benefits of babywearing for sleep. Newborns are born without a functional circadian clock and babywearing as part of the busy day can help support them to discern day and night – daytime is for naps in bright, noisy active environments on the chest of a caregiver, while nighttime is for longer sleeps in dark, quiet, calm environments close to a caregiver (1).

 

Contrary to some of the language used in the baby-sleep space, napping in the carrier is not junk sleep. The reassuring thing is that we can trust our babies to take the sleep they need. Being out and about in the world, especially in a carrier, bathes our children in rich, sensory nourishment. As the sleep pressure builds, our children eventually succumb to this and nap. The key is to not push for the child to stay asleep – this may have an impact on their night-time sleep pressure and how they sleep at night (5).

 

Exercise

 

Yes! Carers can exercise with their child in a carrier and the ways to keep active are endless. Exercise is proven to support health and wellbeing and babywearing is an incredible tool that can facilitate engagement in physical activity.

 

From a daily walk with the dog, to dancing around the loungeroom, Kangatraining, hiking, bushwalking, dancing, swimming and more. The choice and fit of carrier are important to ensure safety of the child during the activity. There are even slings designed specifically to wear a child in water if that suits your family.  For gentle, lower impact activities, any safe carrier suitable to the environmental conditions will suffice. As the intensity of activity builds, so too does the need for increased support for the child. If they fall asleep, additional head support may be required.

 

If you are unsure or need help with choosing and safely fitting your carrier, you may wish to connect with your local babywearing meet, other babywearing families, or a babywearing consultant for support to keep your baby close and safe. If you are a health professional, I implore you to learn more about how you can support families to use this beneficial parenting and wellbeing tool and encourage you to become skilled in safe babywearing across a variety of carrier types. If this is beyond your scope or interest, it would be beneficial to know where you can refer families to get the support they need to safely use baby carriers.

 

Work

 

Yes! Regardless of what work looks like for you and your family, if you need two hands to keep managing all your tasks, you may be able to incorporate your child into your work while babywearing. I realise that this may not be practical for all occupations and workplaces, however you just never know who might be inspired to give it a go, this was also the motivation for a TV meteorologist presenting the weather forecast with her child wrapped on her back (6).


A child may happily snuggle while their carer is sitting at a computer completing administration tasks, attending videoconferences, or studying. More active tasks such as gardening, vacuuming, shopping, meal preparation and washing up may also be safely completed while babywearing. Caring for other children can also be easier, it has been shown that babies who are carried are shown to fuss and cry less (1).

 

Living life

 

Yes! Keeping an open mind about how and when you can babywear might see you do all kinds of things you never thought you could or would do with your child snuggled on your chest. For this article, some friends generously shared with me some of their life’s adventures made better with babywearing. Many were surprised by how many things they could continue to do, that they had anticipated would be lost to them as new parents.

 

Many people told stories of music festival attendance with their babies in carriers wearing earmuffs and napping while their parents danced to their favourite bands. The same for wine and food festivals and agricultural shows. Dinner and coffee dates were a dream instead of a nightmare, with a child snuggled in and those tiny little cafes without pram space became accessible.

 

A surprising number of people also shared stories of going to the toilet babywearing their child. Some mothers adapted to their child being carried on their backs, by sitting facing the cistern to go to the toilet. With baby’s hands and feet out of the way, toileting is unexpectedly easy, and any hygiene concerns were able to be managed.

 

Yes! You can do that whilst babywearing.

 

Babywearing can help carers manage daytime tasks, while keeping their child calm (1). Our children need to be close to their caregivers and babywearing may be one strategy that can support families in a variety of circumstances. Being active, connected to others, and the environment has benefits for both carer and child wellbeing. And when you need two hands to keep managing all the daily tasks, activities, and self-care requirements, what better way to do things simultaneously than by holding your child on your chest in a carrier. Give it a try!

 

Kato x


 

References

1.       Zimmerman, D, Bartick, M, Feldman-Winter, L, Ball, HL & the Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine 2023, ‘ABM Clinical Protocol #37: Physiological Infant Care – Managing Nighttime Breastfeeding in Young Infants’, Breastfeeding Medicine, vol. 18, no. 3, pp. 159-168. https://abm.memberclicks.net/assets/DOCUMENTS/PROTOCOLS/Physiologic%20Infant%20Care%20Protocol%2037.pdf 

2.       The Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine 2023, Physiologic Infant Care: Supporting Breastfeeding, Sleep and Wellbeing, The Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine, accessed 8 June 2023, <https://abm.memberclicks.net/assets/PatientHandouts/English_ABM_Physiologic%20Infant%20Care%20Handout_Protected.pdf>

3.       Red Nose Foundation, Red Nose Six Safe Sleep Recommendations, Red Nose Foundation, viewed 8 June 2023, <https://rednose.org.au/article/red-nose-six-safe-sleep-recommendations>

4.       The Lullaby Trust, Safer Sleep Advice, The Lullaby Trust, viewed 8 June 2023, <https://www.lullabytrust.org.uk/safer-sleep-advice/>

5.      Douglas, P 2019, The Discontented Little Baby Book, University of Queensland Press, St Lucia.

6.      Why Meteorologist Proudly Wore Sleeping Baby During Weather Report, viewed 5 September 2023, <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UD30EXzmrkI

4 views

Recent Posts

See All

コメント


bottom of page