The practice of babywearing has been around for many centuries in many parts of the world. Proponents of babywearing tout many benefits, including health benefits for both the mother and the baby.
One benefit which is not widely talked about is how babywearing can help prevent flat head syndrome, particularly positional plagiocephaly and brachycephaly.
What is Babywearing and How Can it Prevent Flat Heads in Babies?
If you haven’t heard much about it, babywearing is the practice of using a sling or carrier to hold your baby and keep him or her with you while you go about your day. It is a great way to stay close to your baby and also have your hands free to do other things.
One of the most important things you can do to prevent or treat flat head syndrome is to keep the pressure off the back of your baby’s head, and limit the time your baby spends in “containers” such as bouncy seats, swings, and car seats.
Of course you cannot avoid using a car seat! But babywearing can be a great way to keep the pressure off your baby’s head at other times, and it can help keep your infant from spending too much time in a carseat when you aren’t actually in the car. Those infant travel systems are so convenient and easy to use, but using them outside the car just means that much more time spent on the back of the head.
Babies love to be carried around, and many will sleep comfortably while they are in a wrap or a sling. This means less time sleeping on the back, which is known to be related to positional “cephalies”.
How can you get started?
There are many popular slings, wraps, and carriers that can be used for babywearing. Here are some of the most popular ones:
Babybjorn baby carrier air – I really love my babybjorn air carrier because it has mesh and is very breathable. I live in Florida, so it was important to keep my son from overheating! You can use this carrier when your baby is anywhere from 8 to 25 pounds.
It’s made from non-toxic materials, and my husband and I both found it very comfortable, although once our son got over 15 pounds we didn’t use it much because of his weight. When your baby is a newborn, they can face you, and when they get a little bigger and their necks are stronger, you can turn them outwards to look around at their surroundings.
ERGObaby carrier – These are a little more expensive than the Babybjorn, but people love them. They can be used with babies up to 45 pounds, but you will need an insert for a newborn. One advantage to this one is that you can use it on your hip or on your back when your baby gets heavier. A lot of parents switch from the Babybjorn to this carrier when their babies get bigger.
Moby wrap – This is one of the most popular wraps out there. Wraps can be a little intimidating at first, but everyone says once you’ve done it a few times it’s really easy to do. A good friend of mine is a huge fan of the Moby wrap. It comes in a lot of different colors and designs. It can also be used with preemie babies all the way up to a 35 pound toddler, so it’s very versatile. It’s easy to clean (can be machine washed and dried) and parents report it to be very comfortable to wear.
Maya wrap – This is another popular wrap that’s known as a ring sling, because it attaches with a ring instead of just wrapping the fabric. It holds babies up to 35 pounds. Different sizes are available, and the size depends on the height and frame of the person using it. A medium will fit most adults. The only real difference in the sizes is the length of the fabric. The wrap comes with a DVD which really helps you to figure out how to put it on and adjust it properly.
Balboa Baby Dr. Sears Adjustable Sling – This sling is really more of a pouch, which makes it among the easiest to put on since you just slip it over your shoulder. It also comes in a lot of colors and patterns, and can be used with babies from 8 to 25 pounds. There are a few different ways to position your baby in this sling. It’s not great for newborns or very small babies, but works well when the baby is a little bigger. I really liked the versatility of this one, and the different positions for my son.
Many parents find that they end up with a couple of different slings and carriers as their baby grows. It is such a convenient way to get around with your baby, and helps so much when you’re trying to avoid putting pressure on your baby’s head from carseats, swings, and bouncers. Remember, though, that it’s still important to vary your baby’s position when you are using these products. Be sure to change positions regularly and alternate the direction the baby is resting in the sling or carrier if there is any pressure on the head.
For information on other products you can use to prevent head flattening in your baby, please see this article.