What is it about a Baby Wearing Daddy??
There’s something incredibly sexy about seeing a man nurturing his baby. The way he kisses their head, smiles as he rubs their back…and let’s face it, it’s especially awesome when it’s your own because that means that baby is not on your hip! I think every dad should wear his baby. It might result in a massive population explosions as women all over the place swoon but it’s also incredible for baby and dad. They are being cuddled, listening to your heart beat, listening to you breathe and talk all as they are most likely gently swayed to sleep. When you look at what little baby’s want…they want “Womb-service”. A gentle transition from womb to world. Baby wearing ticks a lot of those boxes AND it can be done by daddy or other care provider.
My hubby absolutely loves hearing ovaries exploding around him like fireworks when he’s wearing our little girl.
Why is it great for dad? Well, bonding! You don’t need to feed a baby to bond. There are so many ways to bond with your baby that doesn’t involve boob or a bottle. Massage, stories, bath time (either do the bathing or even better, get in the bath with your bub!! Skin-to-skin bonus points), eye-to-eye contact, and of course baby wearing. They get to be part of your day as you walk around the house, the garden, wherever.
Did you know? Baby wearing is actually equivalent to tummy time!
I had one of those babies that hated tummy time….like with a passion. 5 seconds in, maybe, she was screaming her little lungs out, face down in the mat. I used to look at people’s pictures of their babies who had fallen asleep during tummy time in utter disbelief! The only way I could get more than a few seconds of tummy time out of her was to pop her on our big fit ball and roll her back and forth on that. That was until a gorgeous educator at my gentle mothering group told me that baby wearing counted as tummy time!
Let’s think about it, what’s the point of tummy time?
- Getting baby off their back so their heads don’t develop a flat spot
- Encouraging baby to lift their head up so they build neck muscles for good head control
- Stimulating all the nerves on the front of their body so they develop an awareness of where their body exists in the world. (Yeah, babies need to learn where their body starts and ends and that those weird things that stick out from their body actually belong to them)
You get all of that when your wear your baby! Plus, they get cuddles and lots and lots of vestibular stimulation as well. That’s basically the fluid inside your inner ear that moves and acts like a gyroscope in your head telling you which way is up and down. Not only that but also motion and spacial awareness. It’s critical for balance and is developed by lots of movement. So carrying your baby means their vestibular system gets an awesome workout as you move around, bend over, sway and get your groove on!
Which one? Where do I start?
Looking into baby carriers is a bit like Alice falling down a rabbit hole. There are soooooooooo many options and brands and styles that you’re almost immediately left with a headache and spinning eyes. My recommendation? Before you even look at carriers, GO TO A BABY WEARING GROUP MEET UP.
Just search in Facebook for your city and “baby wearing” and there’s likely to be a page or a group that you could join and hopefully they hold a get together where you can see different forms of wearing babies and toddlers and even get to try some out. Go when you’re pregnant if you can. Take grandma and daddy with you if you want. It’s so great to actually feel different carriers and talk to people who use them all the time. What do they love/not like about their carrier? Why did they chose that? What’s on their wish list? I know a mum who has 9 carriers and wants even more!
What we’ve used
Our first carrier was a stretchy wrap, Hug-a-Bub. We didn’t wear her very much for the first couple months. This was probably because we were living with my parents when she was born so there was always someone carrying her around in their arms. Then we moved to Darwin when she was 5 weeks old and it took a while to adjust to the heat! I didn’t want to carry her all wrapped up. But I figured out a way to keep her cool…ice packs! I’m not sure if you’ve ever worn a baby in a stretchy wrap but there are two passes that crisscross over their back and then a horizontal panel that comes up over them at the end. Well, I would pop a covered ice pack in between the outside layer and the two crisscrossed layers which kept her lovely and cool for about 45min (the duration of her nap and my carrying endurance!).
- Lovely comfortable carrier that gives good support for bub and you.
- It’s also an affordable option (less than $100)
- I didn’t have any issues transferring her out of the wrap once she’d fallen asleep. I’d lie down and unwrap it all then slide her onto the bed.
- Babies tend to sag down after a while because the material is stretchy.
- Not suitable for toddlers
- Takes practice to tie it on quickly and properly
- Can’t put it on once bub has fallen asleep on you
We also invested in a structured carrier (Baby Bjorn One) with a mesh material hoping it would be cooler in the tropical environment as well as easier to put on. Buckles seemed like a good option to take the fuss out of tying on a wrap. This definitely became our go-to carrier as it was exactly what we’d hoped. It was cooler and easier to put on.
- Easy to put on. Buckles and straps made for super quick adjustment between mum and dad
- Bjorn One has an adjustable inner height as well as leg width so you can make sure legs are nice and wide for better hip support.
- Mesh fabric was cooler for bub and thinner straps meant cooler for me too
- Bubba was able to forward face in it from 6 months onwards but we kept it to short periods of time. Now I prefer not to forward carry at all (know better, do better right?)
- I can back-carry in it (with difficulty when I’m by myself) by putting her in and then twisting like a pretzel until she’s on my back
- Can’t get bub in or out easily once they’ve fallen asleep. The Bjorn One has a panel of fabric between you and baby meaning you have to lift them in and out.
- It wasn’t very supportive of my lower back so once she hit about 6kg I could only carry her for 1hr MAX before my back really ached.
- Can’t get legs into an “M” position. Legs are wide which is good but the knees aren’t higher than her bottom
- Because it is structured, it doesn’t mould to the baby’s back. So the support for them is good by definitely not ideal.
- Pricier (we bought ours for $250)
My ring sling has only been a recent purchase but I’m already in love. It’s 100% cotton so it’s sturdy enough for a toddler and not too thick a weave that it will still be suitable for a newborn. This has very quickly become my new go-to carrier. I love how close she is to me, I carry her on my hip like I would normally (all day) but when she’s in the sling I can stand up straight and not pop my hip out. I’m still getting the hang of getting the right amount of material under her bum and the rings in a good spot but when I get it right I have been able to do the entire grocery shop with her in it, comfortably!
- Quick to put on
- Scrunches (I mean neatly folds…) up into my nappy bag easily
- Can get her into it when she’s fallen asleep feeding (seriously, I was typing this blog and she fell asleep on my lap. I was able to get the sling over my head, around her and under her butt and adjusted all while she was still feeding and I was able to keep on typing but now with two hands!)
- Better for my back when she just wants to be carried all day around the house
- She can see forward but with the back support of facing in by being carried on my hip (win/win)
- Easy to get her out of it when I want to transfer her when she’s fallen asleep
- Affordable (I got mine on sale for $50)
- Can be tricky to get the hang of getting it on with the rings in a comfortable spot and it all tight in the right spots
- That’s about all I can think of right now…once you’ve got the hang of adjusting it, it’s aces.
Quick Note On Safety
When it comes to baby wearing, you need to be very conscious of some safety issues. I’ve mentioned a couple already. That’s why it’s great to go along to a wearing group meet or google for the services of people who can help teach you how to baby wear.
There are a few acronyms out there to help you remember the safety rules of wearing your baby. T.I.C.K.S./ C.A.R.R.Y. Doesn’t really matter which acronym you remember just as long as you follow these basic rules:
- Keep baby in sight at all times. You can wear older babies and toddlers on your back but small babies and newborns need to always be visible. You shouldn’t have to pull back material or covers to check their airways. Turn their little heads on the side so that their face is never facing into your chest. Make sure they have good airflow too by not putting covers over their face.
- Knees are HIGHER than their bottom. Leg positioning is really important when you’re wearing your baby to protect their hips. When you’re looking at carriers or tying wraps up make sure your baby’s legs make a lovely “M” shape. Their knees raise up above the height of their bottom. Legs should be nice and wide too (newborns tuck in tighter and so you may need to use a newborn insert with some carriers).
- Tight for good support. Making sure your carrier is nice and firm means your baby will be close to you, making it comfortable for you and safer for them. If carriers or wraps are lose baby could slip out or slump down. If they slump down in the sling or wrap this is bad for their back and can restrict their airway making it difficult for them to breathe.
- Kissable distance. Have bub up nice and high on your chest so that you can just look down and kiss the top of their head. This is much nicer on your back and it keeps your centre of balance more central. Baby wearing is awesome but make sure you still protect your back
- Better not to face forward. Most bubbas once they’re old enough to realise the world is an exciting and interesting place, want to face forward so they can see. The issue with doing this while you’re carrying them though is that a baby’s back forms a “C” shape while and adult has a nice “S” curve. When you face a baby in a forward facing position, their back is pushed out of the “C” shape into a straight or even slightly “S” shape. Their little bodies are not designed to be like this yet. If you must, carry babies forward facing for as short a time as possible (15min or less) but better yet, carry them in a hip or back carry that allows them to see forward while maintaining a nice “C” shape spine.
- Keep activities sensible. You can have so much more freedom when you carry a baby and almost total movement of your arms but make sure you don’t get over zealous with your carrying activities. Pretend you’re pregnant. Your centre of gravity is thrown off by the extra weight and if you’re carrying them on your chest your visibility of your feet and the ground in front of you is limited. You’d hate to fall over while carrying your baby and injure yourself or them.
Have Fun and Share Your Pictures!
Do you love wearing your baby? Are you a sexy daddy who loves to rock a carrier?? Share your photos and watch women all over the place swoon. Check out Babywearing Dads Down Under on Instagram too for some daddy wearing awesomeness.
Live Gently, Raise Gently