Babywearing in a vertical position

20.07.2018
Babywearing is very important activity for the child's development. Different articles might state various definitions that either define the shape or meaning of babywearing of children in vertical position – vertical, upright, physiological, embryonal or abduction/flexion position. They all have its importance. Vertical and upright position define the direction of baby placement. Physiological and embryonal define the position in which the baby was positioned in uterus, thus explaining why we should continue in this development even after the baby is born. The abduction/flexion definition points to the placement of legs in the babywearing aid.

All these definitions and meanings lead to a fact that it is natural to continue in a development that has started already somewhere (in this case in uterus) and do not disturb it manually (by extending, straightening).

Let’s have a look at the three basic body parts that are so passionately and many times controversially discussed when talking about babywearing in a vertical position:

Rounded back and deformation of the cervical spine

The spine of a new-born baby is naturally shaped into the C letter in the so-called kyphosis. It takes approximately a year for the spine to be formed into the desired S shape.
  • The first bending comes with strengthening of the cervical muscles (when the baby is able to hold its head securely)
  • The second bending comes with strengthening of the thoracic muscles (when the child is able to sit by itself
  • The third, final bending, comes with strengthening of the hip muscles (when the child is able to stand alone).
Sestrice-detska-chrbtica-1-2-EN

Sestrice-detska-chrbtica-3-4-EN

Just like we should not force the child into these developmental stages, neither should we straighten its spine by constant positioning on a hard pad. The spine will adapt to the individual developmental stages by itself.

We also offer a statement from a professional – In his book A Child – 3x333 Questions for a Paediatrician the Prof. MD. Velemínsky writes:
“Just like we should not straighten the curved legs of a child to force them to grow straight, neither it is necessary to straighten its spine sooner than the spine does so naturally itself. The baby spent many months in uterus curled into a ball. It is a very layman’s idea to think that after birth it is vital to straighten the spine of the baby. Double rounding of the spine and vertebrae in the form of S is achieved only continually during the motor development of the child. From this point of view we can consider lying in bed as un-physiological because the straightening of the spine does not happen due to the growing strength of muscles but due to gravitation against which the child cannot do anything during the first months of its life. This must be avoided. The vertebrae of the child must not be compressed. In the uterus the baby was swimming in water, the vertebrae were rounded and not compressed. However, after birth, the “microgravity” condition is no longer fulfilled. This potential danger can be avoided if you use a wrap for babywearing that works as a support for the body of a baby due to its taut material, thus it prevents strain of vertebrates. The most common argument against babywearing of new-borns is a fear that the spine of the child could get damaged. In fact, all people today who visit orthopaedists with a damaged back, were with great probability lying on their back as babies – as it was proper at those times. New-borns that are carried by their mothers in a wrap are developing better than children who spend most of their time in a cot.”

Babywearing supports this natural process the most. The basic rule for an ergonomic carrier and a wrap is a rounded back. Later, as children grow up, they straighten it by themselves.

The only vertical babywearing that is unhealthy for both the spine of the baby as well as for the babywearer is babywearing in the so called narrow based carrier. The difference can be spotted in these three main features:
  • The baby’s legs are freely hanging (thus the embryonic position is not achieved, the baby is not deeply seated and the fabric between legs puts pressure to the genitals of your child)
  • The back panel of the NBC is rigid (it is not possible to achieve the naturally rounded back, which forces the child to hold its unprepared body straight, thus its heavy head presses on their spine)
  • They offer possibility to wear your baby facing forward.


Incorrect position of the legs

Zle_klby

Correct position of the legs

Dobre_klby


The first two examples break the basic rules of ergonomic babywearing and the third is dangerous from the psychological point of view. The baby can be very quickly overstimulated and has no possibility to hide in the safe arms of its parent. Many narrow based carriers also destroy the back of the parent, seeing that the weight of the child in the NBC is unevenly distributed.

Hip joint

Children are born with bent legs that are spread wide and should not be straightened and connected by force. Several years ago the so called “poštolky” – a kind of hip dysplasia pants – were used for children to secure the healthy development of their hip joint; these were worn on diapers to hold their legs wide apart. Today we do not have to use them anymore – instead, you can use a wrap and be sure that the legs of your child are stimulated to a healthy development.
The ideal forming of legs or hip joints (whose proper development is controlled up to one year of the child’s life) takes place when the following conditions are met:
  • The legs of the child are positioned in relation to the body at an angle of about 100 degrees
  • And spread wide at the same time at the angle of about 40 degrees – this the abduction/flexion position
You can test this theory on your new-born baby yourself – when you lift it up, the baby will take the position itself. ATTENTION, this does not apply to older children. These reflexes are disappearing over time.

Sources:
1. http://www.plnohodnotnyzivot.sk/zakrivenie-chrbtice/
2. http://www.plnohodnotnyzivot.sk/anatomia-chrbtice-ludskeho-tela/
3. http://www.babywearingadvice.co.uk/anatomy.htm
4. http://hipdysplasia.org/developmental-dysplasia-of-the-hip/prevention/baby-carriers-seats-and-other-equipment/
5. http://www.who.int/reproductivehealth/publications/maternal_perinatal_health/9241590351/en/