What is Babywearing? The Ultimate Guide for New Parents

Babywearing is the practice of carrying an infant or young child close to one’s body using a baby carrier, wrap, sling, or other device. It has become an increasingly popular way for new parents to bond with their babies and keep them close while still going about daily activities. This comprehensive guide covers everything you need to know about babywearing.

Key Takeaways:

  • Babywearing provides physical and emotional benefits for both baby and parent. Close contact aids bonding, development, sleep, and more.
  • Many different types of baby carriers are available, including soft structured carriers, wraps, ring slings, and mei tais. Consider factors like cost, ease of use, and baby’s age/size.
  • Proper positioning is key for baby’s development and safety. A younger infant should be worn facing in toward the wearer’s chest in the cradle position.
  • Allow baby’s chin, legs, and hips to maintain a natural position while in the carrier. Check for proper airflow and that baby’s back is supported in a C-shape.
  • Start babywearing early and practice often to get comfortable. Seek help from babywearing educators if needed. Focus on comfort for both wearer and baby.
  • Safety should always come first when babywearing. Follow tips like keeping baby visible and kissable, and being mindful of falls and overheating.

What is Babywearing?

Babywearing is the practice of using a cloth baby carrier, wrap, sling, or other device to carry an infant or young child close to one’s body. The baby carrier enables a caregiver to hold the child snug against their chest, back, or hip while also keeping their hands free to continue daily tasks and activities. This allows the adult to bond with the baby and meet the infant’s need for constant closeness, while also providing the opportunity for multi-tasking and mobility.

Unlike strollers and other transport systems that keep a baby at a distance from the caregiver, babywearing maintains vital skin-to-skin contact and connection. It enables responsive parenting by facilitating breastfeeding, soothing, monitoring, and other elements of intuitive, attachment-focused care. Babywearing can be done safely from birth through toddlerhood as babies grow and their needs change.

While the specific origins are unknown, various cultures around the world have historically used cloth baby carriers to transport little ones while working and traveling. Babywearing has gained immense popularity as a parenting practice in Western culture over the last few decades. Advances in baby carrier design and renewed interest in natural parenting philosophies have made it appealing and accessible to mainstream families.

Benefits of Babywearing for Baby and Parent

Babywearing offers numerous benefits for both baby and the adult caregiver:

For Baby:

  • Aids healthy development: Being held close in a carrier provides constant motion and stimulation which aids muscular and cognitive development.
  • Enables bonding: By being held skin-to-skin, baby feels comforted, secure, and connected, enabling a strong attachment.
  • Promotes better sleep: Motion from being carried can lull babies to sleep more easily. Being held close also meets their need for touch.
  • Reduces crying: Babies cry less when their needs are readily met. Babywearing allows caregivers to quickly soothe and attend to fussing.
  • Supports breastfeeding: Carriers allow for easy nursing on the go. Closeness to mom’s familiar scent and heartbeat provides comfort that enhances feeding.
  • Provides optimal positioning: Upright positioning enabled by babywearing promotes healthy physical development and digestion.

For Parents:

  • Enables bonding: Physical closeness creates feelings of affection, enjoyment, confidence, and responsiveness.
  • Provides opportunity to multitask: Hands are free to accomplish other tasks while keeping baby content and secure.
  • Promotes mobility: Babywearers can continue their typical activities without a stroller or equipment.
  • Alleviates stress: Keeping baby close has calming benefits and allows caregivers to readily monitor and address needs.
  • Aids postpartum recovery: Babywearing can provide back support and help realign the body after pregnancy.
  • Allows discreet nursing: Breastfeeding can happen anywhere without needing to find a private space.
  • Reduces isolation: Wearing baby enables parents to easily join in on social activities and outings.

Types of Baby Carriers

If you decide to try babywearing, choosing the right carrier is key. There are several main types and styles to consider:

Soft Structured Carriers (SSCs):

  • Most popular modern option, can be worn on front or back
  • Padded shoulder straps, waist belt, buckles
  • Brands like Ergo Baby, Lillebaby, and Tula


  • Long piece of fabric tied to create a pouch for holding baby
  • Takes practice to tie correctly and snugly
  • Versatile, can be worn in many positions

Ring Slings:

  • Fabric looped through two rings worn over one shoulder
  • Easy breastfeeding access, adjustable fit
  • Can take time to master adjusting the fit

Mei Tais:

  • Asian-style tied carrier with waist straps and shoulder straps
  • Less adjustable than a wrap but simpler to use
  • Worn on front or back, even on hip for toddlers

Other options like pouch carriers are also available. Consider variables like cost, ease of use, adjustability, and whether they suit newborns or older babies. Trying a few different types can help determine personal preferences. Many baby stores allow test drives with weighted baby dolls so you can assess comfort.

Seeking advice from fellow babywearing parents or educators can provide guidance. Renting carriers to try is also an option before investing. Quality and safety should be top priorities when choosing a baby carrier.

Babywearing Safety Tips and Precautions

While incredibly useful, babywearing does require taking proper precautions to keep baby safe and comfortable:

  • Ensure baby’s airway is always open and chin is off the chest.
  • Monitor your child at all times. Keep baby in view or “kissable” range.
  • Allow baby’s legs to straddle the carrier with hips and knees bent comfortably.
  • Frequently re-check positioning. Babies move and adjustments may be needed.
  • Ensure baby’s back is adequately supported in a natural C-shape, not slumping.
  • Be mindful of overheating. Remove blankets or coats if baby is sweating.
  • Use common sense about safety – avoid cooking at the stove, dizzying heights, etc.
  • Beware of slips and falls. Use extra caution while leaning or moving.
  • Consult your pediatrician if you have concerns about baby’s development.
  • Follow all manufacturer weight limits and instructions carefully.
  • Attend a babywearing class or consult a specialist if you need guidance.

Proper positioning is vital for baby’s comfort and healthy development. Especially for newborns, the cradle position facing inward on the chest is ideal. Never place infant car seats on top of carriers – this poses a suffocation risk. Stay vigilant about safety and comfort to ensure happy babywearing!

Babywearing Positions

Depending on your baby’s age, abilities, and preferences, various carrying positions are possible.

Newborn (facing in):

The cradle or fetal position keeps infants cozy and secure while promoting healthy hips and spine development. Baby’s tummy and chest should rest against the wearer’s. Their chin must be up and clear of obstruction. Use this position until baby has head and neck control, around 4-5 months.

Front Outward (facing forward):

Once baby can hold their head up well and wants to look around, you can begin facing them forward in the carrier. Ensure their back is supported and their face is kissably close. Front outward enables baby to interact and learn, with your reassuring presence right behind. Around 5-6 months old is often when babies are ready for forward facing.

Back Carries:

As baby grows and gains confidence, back carrying becomes an option, usually around 9-12 months old. Use high visibility mirrors initially to check positioning. Ensure their chin is up and they can breathe freely. Back carries are great for busy situations when you need baby secure and out of the way.

Hip Carries:

Older babies and toddlers often enjoy riding on the hip. Let them face forward or backward depending on preference. Use the waistband for their seat support. Hip positioning takes pressure off the wearer’s back and shoulders while still keeping little ones close.

Experiment with different holds each time to provide variety and work different muscles for your baby. Take cues from your child about which positions they enjoy most. Remain mindful of proper support and safety as you and baby master new skills together.

Getting Started with Babywearing

If you’re new to babywearing, it may take some practice getting the hang of using carriers properly. Here are tips to help you get started:

  • Watch tutorials and read instructions for your specific carrier’s recommended use.
  • Start slow – practice at home without distractions until babywearing feels comfortable.
  • Ensure baby is securely positioned. Snug the carrier close to your body.
  • Check that baby’s chin is up and the head is supported, with airflow accessible.
  • Try nursing in the carrier to get used to new positions and sensations.
  • Gradually increase wear time. Monitor for comfort and make any needed adjustments.
  • Join local babywearing groups for meet-ups and assistance. Seek expert help if struggling.
  • Focus on your baby’s reactions. Switch holds if they seem uncomfortable or upset.
  • Wear over bare skin initially for direct contact. Later shirts or covers can be added.
  • Expect a learning curve. With practice, babywearing will become second nature. Be patient with yourself.
  • Maintain a focus on safety and be conscious of proper form. But also relax and enjoy those cuddles!

At first, babywearing may feel awkward. Be gentle with yourself as you and baby acclimate to this new style of closeness. Seek assistance to troubleshoot problems. With time, you will gain confidence and find joy in carrying your little one close.

Babywearing FAQs

Babywearing is a popular practice but one that also comes with lots of common questions for new parents. Here are helpful answers to some frequently asked questions:

When can I start babywearing?

You can begin babywearing from birth as long as baby is full-term. Preemies and babies with special needs may require medical clearance first.

How long should baby be worn each day?

There are no set rules! Aim for what works best for your family’s lifestyle needs and baby’s enjoyment. It is common to wear infants for many hours per day, then decrease as they get older and more mobile.

Is babywearing safe for my baby’s development?

When done properly, babywearing supports healthy physical, emotional, and neurological development. Ensure safe positioning allowing for hip and spine flexion.

When can baby face outward?

Babies should face inward until they can independently hold their head up, around 4-5 months old. Then forward facing can begin, allowing baby to observe the surroundings.

How do I know if my baby is positioned correctly?

Check that baby’s back is in a C-shape, their chin is up, and their hips are spread with knees above the waistband. Make any needed adjustments.

Can I breastfeed while babywearing?

Yes, baby carriers enable very discreet and easy nursing on the go. Just loosen the carrier, lower baby to breast level, then retighten when finished.

What if my baby resists the carrier or cries?

Respond to baby’s signals. Try a new position or take a break. With time and patience, they will become accustomed to babywearing.

When should we stop babywearing?

Most babies naturally lose interest in babywearing around age 2-3 when they want more independence. But you can continue as long as it works for both of you!

Final Thoughts on Babywearing

Babywearing offers an amazing opportunity to keep your baby literally close at hand while still fully engaging with the world. For many families, it becomes an indispensable parenting practice that enhances attachment, development, and wellbeing for both parent and child.

By choosing an ergonomic, well-fitting carrier and learning proper positioning techniques, you can safely babywear from newborn to toddlerhood. Consider seeking assistance from babywearing educators if you have any questions or challenges. Focus on your baby’s comfort and cues. With time, you will discover the joys of carrying them close while staying active and mobile.

While it has a learning curve, mastering babywearing is extremely rewarding. The convenience, snuggles, hands-free multitasking, and ability to meet your baby’s needs anytime make baby carriers well worth the investment. Approach the experience with patience and focus on safety. With research and practice, babywearing can become one of your most indispensable parenting tools while creating priceless moments of closeness.