Baby-wearing is becoming very popular- and for good reasons! It is a great way to maintain that close contact to bond with baby, but also keep your hands free. Out and about or around the house, it can be a great way to be able to get things done with keeping baby close by.
There are a ton of different types of carriers- some more structured that you are able to just strap on, and others are long wraps that you must wrap into position. The type of carrier is not important as long as it is comfortable and you are able to securely strap baby in a safe position.
Let’s start with what the chiropractors are concerned about – hip positioning. There is currently no evidence that carrier use can lead to hip dysplasia, there is still a best position to encourage normal hip development. This position is the “M” position or spread squat. The carrier should be on the adults front, with baby facing in, legs spread wide, with hips bent and knees above the buttocks. You want to make sure that baby is in close, with the thighs supported and most of their weight on their buttocks.
Safety wise, you want to follow the TICKS acronym. This means that baby is:
- Tight to the body (prevents falls)
- In view at all times (can monitor both mood and breathing)
- Close enough to kiss (high enough up the chest)
- Keep chin off the chest (2 finger gap)
- Supported back (ensure no gap, but loose enough you can slide your hand in)
Infants should start out facing in, and this should continue for the first 6 months at least. This helps to ensure that the airway is maintained (keeping chin off of chest). This also helps you to ensure that neck support is maintained until baby gets proper control. After 6 months baby can be switched to outward facing, but a year of inward facing is recommended. Along with proper positioning, this also allows baby to maintain the parent in view, which can be comforting for them.
If you have any questions or concerns about the carrier that you are using, consult with a pediatrician or your chiropractor to check your setup. They are also great resources to help screen your baby’s hips for proper development.