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A Babywearing Educator Answers All Your Questions About Babywearing
Updated on
October 31, 2023

A Babywearing Educator Answers All Your Questions About Babywearing

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A Babywearing Educator Answers All Your Questions About Babywearing.
A Babywearing Educator Answers All Your Questions About Babywearing

Welcome to Ask the Expert, a series in which real experts answer questions from real Babylist parents. For this installment, we asked Babylist parents to submit their questions about babywearing to Rebekah Kimminau, a babywearing educator, newborn care specialist and postpartum doula.

With babywearing being such a great way to bond with your little one from the earliest days—not to mention convenient for keeping both hands free while still having baby close to you—it’s understandable that parents have a ton of questions! From feeding your baby in their carrier to knowing how to keep both you and baby cool while babywearing in the summer and so much more, here’s expert guidance on all things babywearing.

Defining Babywearing Terms

Before jumping into answering your questions, here are some quick definitions for terms you might come across for babywearing:

  • Soft Structured Carrier (SSC): A carrier with a body panel and straps; does not involve wrapping.
  • Stretchy Wrap: A long piece of stretchy fabric (most often made from cotton or bamboo) and used with newborns and young babies. Stretchy wraps usually require three layers of fabric over your baby to keep them secure. Stretchy wraps can not be used for carrying baby on your back.
  • Woven Wrap: A long piece of woven fabric that can be wrapped around you using different methods. Can be used for front, hip and back carrying. Woven wraps are usually measured by their length in meters, and also have number sizes associated with them in the US (a size 5 wrap is 4.2 meters long).
  • Base Size: The size of a wrap that allows you to do a Front Wrap Cross Carry comfortably.

And now onto your questions!

Do carriers need to be cleaned regularly?

Carriers can generally be cleaned on an as-needed basis. Cleaning them regularly can cause them to wear and fade easier, so most brands do not recommend cleaning unless needed.

How do I go to the bathroom while babywearing?

The exact logistics will depend on which carrier you’re using and whether you’re wearing your baby on the front or back. Either way, if your carrier has a waist strap, you may need to loosen it a little and bring the strap up high enough so that you can easily slip your pants down. If your baby is on your back, you may need to lean forward a bit while on the toilet.

Can baby nap while I’m wearing them? Will that cause dependence on being held to nap?

Your baby can absolutely sleep in the carrier! Having a “wrap-nap” is one of my go-to parenting skills. When your baby is fussy, it can work like magic to put them in a carrier and go outside. The combination of fresh air and being close to their caregiver will almost always instantly calm their nervous system and help them get into a deep sleep. It’s also super handy to have a baby that will nap in a carrier if you’re chasing around older siblings and still need your baby to take a nap on the go!

Since your baby won’t be able to sleep in a carrier all night, they’ll always get some practice sleeping in their regular sleep space during the night. If you find that your baby is becoming reliant on the carrier to fall asleep, you can aim for one nap a day in their sleep space so that they get comfortable sleeping there as well as in the carrier.

How do I babywear in the summer? The Florida heat is unreal but the baby loves being cuddled. How can we use a wrap safely in the heat?

Wearing your baby in the warmer months may take some extra preparation, especially if it gets to triple digits where you live! The best baby carriers for summer will be those that have mesh material—such as the Ergobaby mesh carriers, Tula Coast carriers or BabyBjorn mesh carriers—can be a great place to start to ensure both you and baby get some ventilation.

Soft stretchy carriers or wraps that require multiple layers of fabric over both you and your baby tend to be the hottest carriers and are not a good choice.

Two other tools I like to have with me when it gets really hot out are cooling cloths like a Frogg Togg (I like to place these between me and my baby, as they stay cool when wet) and a small stroller fan or other fan item that can keep airflow moving around you and baby. You will also want to be sure your baby is dressed appropriately; many times this may mean a light bodysuit or just in a diaper with a hat or other sun protection.

Is it still possible to start wearing my seven-month-old twins? I’ve only been able to wear one at a time for short periods. If yes, how would you recommend I do that?

Wearing twins at the same time can be a challenge, but it becomes immensely easier once they are over six months old and have proper core control. Once they can sit up independently, I would recommend practicing putting one baby on your back in a soft structured carrier (SSC). Once you feel comfortable getting one baby on your back, you can add the second twin onto your front using another SSC or an Onbuhimo carrier (which is like an SSC but doesn’t have a waist strap, so it makes using two carriers a little less bulky). You can use the TwinGo carrier, which was designed to make wearing one baby on your front and one on your back easier, but two structured carriers also work!

Do you recommend having a backup carrier/more than one carrier/switching between styles?

I do think that different carriers serve different purposes, and most parents will want to use two to three different carriers through their baby’s early years. That being said, you can absolutely make one carrier work if that’s all you can afford or if you have very little storage space! If you want to keep your carrier collection minimal, starting with a soft structured carrier that can hold a baby without an insert, as well as transition to back carries, would be the best option for most families.

If you want to add a couple of carriers to your registry, I recommend a soft carrier for the newborn days (Solly Baby wrap, Ergobaby Embrace or Lalabu Simple Wrap), a structured carrier for 3-18 months (Ergobaby Omni Dream, Baby Tula Explore or Happy Baby Revolution) and a ring sling for quick trips or to keep in your diaper bag (Kyte Baby or Lillebaby).

My three-month-old really dislikes being in a carrier. I’ve tried a structured and stretchy wrap, but the crying is relentless even with the right M shape and support. Are some babies just not into carriers?

In my experience, the older a baby is when you introduce them to a carrier, the more time they need to feel comfortable in one. At three months old, I would start with a structured carrier, and try it when your baby is calm and happy, as well as try putting them in the carrier outside where there are lots of distractions. If your structured carrier allows for your baby to face outward, that can also help them to feel less “restricted” by the carrier, though I only advise forward-facing for short amounts of time, as it’s not ergonomic for you or your baby’s body, and it can quickly lead to overstimulation.

The more time your baby spends in a carrier, the more they’ll come to associate it with being happy and being close to you. It can definitely take some trial and error to figure out, as each baby is unique. If using a carrier with your baby is your goal, keep experimenting until you find what works for both of you!

I have tried for so long to do a rucksack carry on my back, but I can’t get it to stay. Is there another back carry you would recommend with a woven wrap that is beginner friendly and wiggle proof (or at least wiggle resistant)?

This is a great question! Using a woven wrap for a back carry has a big learning curve and does take a lot of practice. It sounds like you are already well on your way, since you know the motion of getting your baby on your back and starting the wrapping process! I love a double hammock back carry for a beginner back carry. It has two passes over your baby, which helps to keep them secure. It does require a longer woven wrap than a rucksack, most of the time you will want your base size.

How much is too much? Our baby loves babywearing!

While anything can be taken to an extreme, for most people there is no such thing as too much babywearing! When you look at historical and anthropological data, you can see many cultures that carried (and carry) their babies on their backs for hours and hours each day. As long as you and your baby are happy, and your baby is getting time out of the carrier for diaper changes and tummy time/floor play, the other periods can be spent babywearing as much as is needed.

Is it okay to feed baby in a carrier or wrap? Can I breastfeed while wearing my baby? What are the best wraps/carriers and techniques for doing it?

Feeding your baby in a carrier can be really helpful, and it is absolutely okay as long as you take the normal precautions you would take anytime you feed your baby! You’ll want to ensure they are in a safe position, have a clear airway and don’t prop the bottle against anything if using one (make sure you’re always holding it with your hand).

Breastfeeding/chestfeeding your baby in a carrier can have a bit of a learning curve but can become quick and useful in time. I find it easiest to practice using a SSC or a ring sling, as both are very easy to loosen and tighten. Depending on your anatomy, you will most likely need to loosen the carrier a bit to drop your baby down to the level of your breast. Once your baby is at a good level and latched on, you can tighten the carrier a little to make sure your baby is secure and supported while feeding.

If bottle feeding, you may need to loosen the carrier slightly to allow your baby to lean to one side. Once done feeding, be sure to bring your baby back up high and fully tighten the carrier!

I love babywearing, but I find that it really hurts my back and shoulders. I use the Baby Bjorn Mini most frequently. Is it possible that I’m just using it incorrectly?

Babywearing can cause strain on many parts of your body—most often your back and shoulders—when not done properly or when using a less-supportive carrier. The Baby Bjorn Mini is one of the least supportive carriers on the market, as it doesn’t have a waist strap or padded shoulder straps, so all of your baby’s weight is sitting on your shoulders instead of also being spread around your waist. If you are wearing your baby facing outward, that can also cause additional strain.

I’d start by being sure your baby is as high as you can get them (if they are low and dangling away from your body, this can cause more strain), as well as facing them toward you. If you’re able to get another carrier with a waist strap, you may also notice a huge difference in how supported you feel.

Rebekah Kimminau

Rebekah Kimminau has specialized in the world of baby gear for over 10 years as a baby gear and baby registry expert. She is an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC), Certified Child Passenger Safety Technician (CPST), Babywearing Educator, Newborn Care Specialist and Postpartum Doula. She owns her own business, The Baby Gear Consultant, where she empowers families to build their dream registries and make important decisions about the baby gear they use daily.

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