Babywearing is an easy and convenient way for mums to carry their little ones. In times of uncertainty and distress, such as the current Covid-19, it is also an excellent way to offer them comfort and security, according to Rynette Tan, a certified babywearing consultant from the Association of Babywearing Consultants.
With so many choices available, how can you choose the right one?
Here, Rynette shares more reasons why babywearing is a practical option at the moment, as well as pro tips on choosing your first baby carrier or sling. She is also the managing director of 13Thirteen, a Singapore-based babywearing consultancy, retail and distribution business.
Why is babywearing a good idea at the moment?
Rynette: It is an excellent way to ensure that your child is kept close to you to minimise unnecessary exposure to harmful diseases. Outside of the home, babywearing enables your hands to be free to do things such as carry your groceries and to hold an older child’s hand in order to keep them close.
At home, babywearing can keep your little one happy while you go about your housework, or while you play with an older child. Babywearing also frees up your hand for frequent hand-washing.
Remember to use soap where possible and thoroughly wash your hands.
If soap and water are unavailable, remember to sanitise your hands, especially before touching your face, or more importantly, baby’s face!
Washing and sanitising a baby carrier is much easier than cleaning a stroller. As stroller wheels and handlebars may be more difficult to clean, this presents opportunity for germs to grow and hence increases the chances of inviting germs into your home.
Should I wear my toddler, too?
Yes, wearing your toddler can help to keep him close to you and keep his hands from touching public surfaces which may be teeming with germs. At this age, the little ones touch anything and everything, and then rub their eyes or put their fingers in their mouths. This is definitely not ideal when a global pandemic is happening.
What are the different types of babywearing gear?
The most common types of carriers used by Singapore mums and dads are soft structured or buckled carriers, ring slings and wraps.
Each has its pros and cons, and all serve the purpose of helping parents carry their baby, stay close to and bond with their child.
Baby carrier or sling: Which is better for first-time mums?
It depends on their preference and body-build, such as waist size and shoulder broadness.
When to consider a sling
For example, a mum with a very small waist would be better suited to use a ring sling or wrap as she can adjust the tightness according to her size. Buckled carriers often have a minimum waist size. A ring sling also offers greatest air flow, making it one of the best options for warm weather. It is also smaller and more portable.
The cons? There’s a learning curve to learn how to use it properly. Plus, the weight is on one shoulder so it may be more tiring when your baby grows and becomes heavier.
When to consider a buckled carrier
Buckled carriers are generally easier to use. They might be more suitable for first-time mothers who tend to be a little more anxious with handling baby as slings tend to be a little more fiddly.
But, as panels are fixed and adjustability is limited, you may need to find a buckled carrier that fits your body build. This means that sometimes, a specific buckled carrier may not be a good fit for different caregivers of one baby.
It’s so hot and humid in Singapore. How do I choose a comfortable baby carrier or sling?
Consider the material, your lifestyle and budget. If you are often outdoors, at hawker centres or take public transport for example, opt for a lightweight carrier ideally with mesh fabric to allow more breathability and airflow to baby.
If you drive and are mostly indoors, at malls or at home with the air conditioning on, then a full cotton carrier would offer a soft and comfortable feel.
Budget is another constraint as parents often need at least two carriers to rotate when washing, as perspiration, baby spit-ups and diaper explosions present hygiene issues.
Is a more expensive baby carrier or sling always a better bet?
Definitely not! Is your Hermes handbag always better than your Coach handbag? While the Hermes handbag certainly costs more, both are from reputable brands and both serve the same purpose, that is to hold your personal belongings.
The most important thing when selecting a baby carrier is to ensure that it is from a reputable brand and from an authentic source – there are a lot of fakes in the market. Your child’s safety is of utmost importance.
Most carriers from reputable brands will state weight limits. This is because they have undergone safety testing and have liability insurance. For example, standard baby-size buckled carriers can be used from 3.5 to 20kg while toddler or preschool carriers can be used for kids weighing up to 27kg.
Can dads use the same baby carrier or sling as mums, too?
Yes, as long as it is comfortable for both caregivers. A caregiver using an ill-fitting carrier often ends up with unnecessary aches and pains. Sometimes, parents want to compromise on their comfort in order to save money so the second caregiver who doesn’t fit the carrier well will “make do”.
But they don’t realise that they actually spend more on massages, physiotherapy and traditional Chinese medicine fees after using an ill-fitting carrier. The one-time investment of a well-fitted carrier is worth it.
You can speak to a certified babywearing consultant to learn and ensure the right fit.