What is an Ergonomic Baby Carrier
The benefits of using a baby carrier are now widely acknowledged; and while in the West we have only recently rediscovered these benefits, baby wearing is still the most universally practiced baby carrying method. In this article we will look at why a baby carrier should be ergonomic in its design, why this is important for both the baby wearer and baby and what to look for in a baby carrier.
If we apply the word ergonomic to a baby carrier, then it should be comfortable for the wearer and for the baby and should provide the best support for both baby and the baby wearer. This is where is gets a bit complicated because not all baby carriers provide the right kind of support. All baby carriers will support baby but may not support baby in the correct way for optimal hip and spine development.
For the wearer's comfort the baby carrier should evenly distribute baby’s weight and should not put unnecessary pressure on the wearer's back and shoulders. The carrier should have padded shoulder straps and a wide waist belt.
For the baby an ergonomic baby carrier must properly and safely support the baby. An ergonomic baby carrier supports the natural baby posture and promotes healthy hip and spine development. The carrier should support baby’s hips, spine and pelvis. The baby should seat in a M-position whereby the baby’s bottom is lower than the knees and the hips are spread open.An ergonomic baby carrier should support your baby’s legs up to the backs of his knees, so that the legs don’t dangle. This wide-leg, spread-squat position benefits baby’s comfort and proper hip development.
Is it healthy for a baby's back to be rounded
A baby is born in a rounded position. This is caused by the splayed “frog”position. The spine straightens in three stages, taking about one year. This straightening starts at the top, at the cervical vertebrae, and progresses down. Lying on her stomach, the child can lift her head, hold it up, turn it, etc. Later the child also does this lying on his or her back. This means the seven cervical vertebrae are completely straightened (cervical lordosis). Then, the child strengthens the flexor and extensor muscles in its body (flexor muscles in the chest and stomach, extensor muscles in the buttocks and pelvic area). Gradually, the whole central part of the spine with the twelve thoracic vertebrae straightens (thoracickyphosis). This straightening is completed when the child can sit up on its own. Finally, the five lumbar vertebrae straighten (lumbar lordosis). When the child can walk alone, this stage has been completed and its spine is fully straightened.
This knowledge about spinal development results in the following requirements for the ideal sling:
- The sling must be supple, but at the same time support the child firmly and steadily.
- It must enclose the baby’s body like a firm bandage, and should be tied in such a way that it absorbs the wearer’s movements and jolts.
- It should be tied in such a way that it absorbs the wearer’s movements and jolts, carrying them away from the child’s spine, back to the wearer.
This protects the child´s delicate vertebrae and vertebral discs. Particular attention must be paid to the “frog” position,as this produces both a healthy back and healthy development of the hip joints, which are still cartilaginous.
Benefits of Using a Baby Carrier for Baby and the Wearer
- Facilitates and improves attachment and bonding
- Reduces colic and crying
- Mothers heart beat and breathing support and stimulate baby’s physical functions
- Excellent head and neck support
- Splayed legs facilitate better development for hips, legs and spine than dangling legs
- Reduces incidences of and improves existing ‘flathead’
- Reduced incidence of SIDS (cot death)
- Improved milk supply as baby wearing increases lactation.
- Frees the care giver, allowing far greater freedom of movement and action than would a pram.
- Lowers the incidence and severity of post natal depression
Please take note that all the baby carriers and slings available on our website www.hellomom.co.za are ergonomic baby carriers