Troubleshooting Common Areas that May Affect Your Baby's Love of Babywearing
Tips for Getting Your Baby that Hates Babywearing to Learn to Love It!
For some parents, babywearing isn’t the dream journey that other’s may say it is! So often I hear from parent’s that their baby hates babywearing which often results in an unused baby carrier and sore arms for the parent.
Having a baby that will cry hysterically when placed into a carrier and then not settle is not only distressing for you both, it can turn you off babywearing altogether.
This article is to make sure that you don’t write off this helpful parenting tool yet! Over the past 6 years in Kangatraining and Babywearing Consultations I have met a few babies that fit this scenario and by troubleshooting the below areas they have learnt to love babywearing!
First Area to Consider: Baby’s Position in the Baby Carrier
Common Issues: Is your baby sitting too low? Is the straps not tight enough or too tight? Does it put your baby in an optimal position?
It is important to follow T.I.C.K.S in terms of positioning for safety and comfort for your baby. TICKS stands for
In view at all times
Close enough to kiss
Keep chin off chest
To achieve this, we need a baby carrier that carries them in an upright position, to put on the baby carrier on our bodies so they are close enough to kiss and aim for the same tightness and closeness as a hug.
Not all baby carriers place your baby in an optimal position but this can make a difference in terms of your baby’s comfort and also supporting their developing spine, back muscles and hips. A baby carrier that can be adjusted in width and height will help you achieve the optimal position or ‘M’ and ‘J’ position.
Possible Solutions: If you think your baby’s position may be the issue, I would recommend reading your carrier instruction manual to make sure you are getting the most out of your baby carrier and that is fit properly (or see a consultant) as often minor adjustments such as moving the waist belt higher and tightening your straps can make a huge difference! You want a baby carrier to be adjustable for your baby and some that are only a one size fits all can result in it not fitting your baby or putting them in a position that isn’t their ‘normal’. If your baby isn’t in a good position, it may be time to consider the next area.
For You – like anything new, there is a learning curve to mastering using a baby carrier and often if you aren’t feeling confident or are feeling anxious/stressed when you use a carrier, your baby can pick up on these feelings as well.
For Your Baby – some baby’s are just more sensitive to new things and take more time to get used to babywearing. For other baby’s, they may have a health issue (reflux, high/low muscle tonus) that may also impact. There are also baby’s that are VERY particular about the baby carrier that want to be in and may initially like the carrier you picked.
For You – Building your confidence and practising babywearing can help you and your baby to love babywearing. The best place to start:
inform yourself about babywearing including safety, tips and common issues and their solutions
practice using your baby carrier without your baby (a doll or stuffed animal is helpful) until you feel more confident
read your instruction manual and watch instructional videos about how to use your carrier
see a babywearing consultant or head to a babywearing meet
It is also important that when you are starting down this path, some days it just isn’t going to work and that’s ok. Stop, reset and try again at another time or day can often be the best decision for you both.
For Your Baby – time and patience can be key to help a baby learn to love babywearing.
picking those ‘premium times’ to babywear eg when they are fed, clean nappy, happy, not too tired and wear for short bursts and gradually build up the time
as your aim is to slowly encourage your baby to associate babywearing with enjoyment – if they are getting too worked up, go back to the Stop/Reset/Try Later
if your baby is developmentally ready – try a different carry eg hip, forward facing, back as they may just have a preference for it
Once your baby learns to love babywearing, then you can wear them in those not so premium times as you know that they will settle quickly.
Baby’s that have health or medical issues can also benefit from professional advice from their treating team and a babywearing consultant to go through all the options and make sure that your baby’s carrier suits their needs.
If you have a baby that just seems to hate babywearing despite troubleshooting the above areas, check out below.
Possible Issues: Does it fit your baby? Is it adjustable? Is there any pressure on baby’s back? Any material issues? Do you have the right size carrier?
Are they in a suitable carry for their age/development eg forward facing, back carry?
This can be frustrating as baby carriers aren’t cheap however in saying that some will fit YOUR baby better and make your babywearing journey a lot easier. If your carrier isn’t that adjustable in width and height, sometimes this results in the carrier not fitting your baby (at this time), not getting a good position and they can be/seem uncomfortable. This will affect how your baby feels about the carrier (hence all the crying).
Do you have the right sized carrier? There are baby (from newborn or a certain age/weight), toddler, preschool sizes available. If they aren’t in the right size this can be a safety issue as they are a falls risk and there is a risk that their airways can be obstructed – never go up a size in the hopes that it will last longer.
Get the baby carrier that fits your baby now and you can always decide later whether you need to upgrade to a bigger size. If you aren’t sure make sure you check the manufacture’s recommendations.
This also applies for the carry position that you wear your baby in (eg forward facing requires your baby to have head and neck control and their chin to be clear of the back panel).
Other common issues are about the material of the carrier which can be scratchy, hot or the design of the carrier may not work for your baby. Especially for little babies, if the carrier design results in them being in a position that isn’t natural for them or doesn’t mold to their body, it can place pressure on their undeveloped muscles which can be uncomfortable for them.
I always recommend trying baby carriers before you buy to see if it will suit you and your baby. Different baby carrier types and brands are going to fit differently and what might fit one baby/parent combination is not going to fit another. A baby carrier that is adjustable for you and your baby will definitely assist with this.
If you already have a baby carrier, again reading the instruction manual can make sure that you are getting the best out of your carrier and if there are any additional accessories that can help (such as an infant insert). Also some baby carriers fit once your baby has grown so don’t despair if it doesn’t fit right now.
In terms of material and hotness, any baby carrier that is made from woven material will be softer, mold better to your baby and generally cooler. Added infant inserts can also be hot so it is important to check your baby often and consider wearing them at cooler times or in air conditioning until they have gotten used to babywearing. And always dress your baby remembering that the baby carrier is considered one layer AS WELL.
Hopefully this will help you and your baby discover the love for babywearing and sometimes it does take a little perseverance to get to the magical, smiling, sleepy stage! We went through multiple carriers until we found one that suited us both and it has resulted in 6+years of babywearing joy with two little ones.
If you have any questions, please PM me or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Certified Babywearing Consultant