Looking after a newborn when you have had no sleep, and have been through a possibly traumatic physical experience is really tough. You feel shell shocked (I know I did), and can barely function, but you have this totally helpless other person to care for, and you somehow pull out that extra reserve and you just manage.
Safely using a sling or baby carrier can help. Babies find comfort in closeness, hearing the heartbeat of their parent is calming, body warmth soothing, natural movement rocking them to sleep, they are where they instinctively want to be so they cry less. (There are many many other benefits of babywearing).
As well as being one of the owners of Firespiral, I am also a trained babywearing consultant (Slingababy and Trageschule) and one of the directors of my local sling library (Morecambe Bay Slings CIC), where I am involved in the running of a busy weekly sling meet and undertaking one to one consultations. I did my first consultancy course when my third child was 11 weeks old, and my newborn carrying improved massively as a result!
The majority of our sling library customers are parents of new babies as we receive lots of referrals from midwives and health visitors, so a large chunk of our time is spent helping parents of newborns with finding the right sling for them and teaching them how to use it. An essential part of this process is educating them about keeping their baby safe whilst babywearing.
Here are some of the important things that we cover:
- Newborns are have low muscle strength and are unable to move themselves out of a potentially dangerous or life threatening position. You are responsible for placing and maintaining your baby in a position in the sling where they can breathe easily.
- You are responsible for your baby’s temperature – overheating is more dangerous than being too cold. Treat each layer of cloth like a layer of clothing, and dress your baby appropriately. Find more information about warm weather wrapping here.
- The activities that you take part in must take into consideration your baby’s safety (a good rule of thumb is that if you wouldn’t do it with your baby ‘in arms’ then it isn’t suitable to be done with your baby in a sling).
- If you feel you need to hold your baby then your sling needs adjusting.
- A position that mimics the position that you hold your baby ‘in arms’ is what you are trying to replicate with a sling.
Protecting baby’s airways:
- Your sling needs to be tight enough to support your baby in a natural curve. They should not be able to slump down inside the wrap. You can check this by leaning forward (support their head with your hand). If baby comes away from you your wrap needs to be tightened.
- Baby’s chin should be away from their chest, their neck extended.
- You should be able to see their face (don’t ever cover them, flip shoulders of wrap if needed).
- When front carried by a woman, baby’s head should be against the hard part of her chest, above the breasts.
- If you are breastfeeding in your wrap, you must keep your eyes on your baby at all times, using one hand to support baby’s head. Once the feed is finished the carry should be adjusted so that baby is higher up, in a tight carry.
- Check your baby regularly.
Which wrap and which carry?
A newborn can be wrapped in any wrap, but if you have a choice go for a soft, mouldable thin to medium weight wrap. The reasons for this are that thin and mouldable wraps are easier to tighten correctly, and the excess cloth will be less bulky.
Any 100% cotton, Alchemy weave wrap in our online shop meets this criteria, as do a few others (see the video below for a brief comparison of super suitable in-stock wraps).
The carry that I usually recommend for a newborn is a Front Wrap Cross Carry (FWCC). A FWCC requires a long wrap (size 5 – size 8), most commonly a size 6 or 7 (the size needed is roughly based on your circumference, the size of your baby, your wrapping skills, and your preference for where you tie off and for long or short tails).
In this video I am using a size 7 (my ‘base’ size with my 3 year old), but could easily have used a size 6, or perhaps even a 5 with my newborn demo doll.
We hope you have enjoyed this blog post – we would love to hear your comments and about your newborn wrapping experiences.
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