EVEN A DECADE AGO, baby wearing in most Indian cities was a rare sight. Neither had parents warmed up to the concept, nor were there too many options for baby wearing in the maternity and infant stores that were cropping up. Today though, there are a multitude of options. These range from wraps that help you and your baby snuggle up for a snooze on a rocking chair to carriers that attach to a backpack to take your baby with you when you go cross-country hiking! Even so, not many Indian parents invest in a baby carrier, though many of our tribal and rural communities have carried babies in a sling or wrap as they go about their work in the wild or fields. Perhaps the reluctance is to do with affordability and doubts over its necessity and harmful effects on the baby’s spine.
Studies over the past few decades reveal that baby wearing in all its forms is completely safe. Investing in a good quality baby wearing option that meets with international safety standards helps a mother/couple have a life beyond parenting, allowing them to carry out activities such as trekking or just plain window-shopping.
Studies in the recent times have also shown that baby wearing for three to four hours a day
* Reduces crying and facilitates sleep in an overly stimulated or cranky infant
* Facilitates better bonding between mother and child owing to the close contact
* Improves growth rate. Close contact with a mother’s touch, warmth, breathing patterns and heart beat have been shown to make a positive difference especially to pre-term babies.
* Helps the hip joint and spine develop in the correct direction
Five distinct versions include wraps, ring slings, pouch slings, mei tais and buckle carriers. Do make sure that the style you choose allows the baby to adopt an M position—the arms of the letter M indicate the legs; the top part of the letter’s arms indicate the knee caps; the slanting lines indicate where the thigh line should rest; and the crook of M indicate where the bottom of the baby will sit.
A good way to close in on a style is by deciding till what age you will want to carry your baby, and what is the general range of your activities over weekdays and weekends.