Babywearing myths

When you start babywearing, surely each of you will be confronted with weird questions related to babywearing coming either from passerby or right from your own family members. These questions might open your inner Pandora’s box and fill you with doubt – Am I doing the right thing? Won’t I harm my baby?
Let’s take a look at these questions and explain them thoroughly so you can be hundred percent sure you are doing the best for your child, at the same time giving you arguments you can confidently use when someone confronts you with these questions.

Won’t the baby suffocate?

Not a single case of suffocation of a child in vertical, i.e. ergonomic position has ever been recorded. In the ergonomic position the head of the child rests on your chest, in a slight bend or slightly vertically. The child is not bending forward, thus the position itself prevents any limitation of the air intake through the airways. Moreover, you can constantly control the free airways of your child; you also feel it breathing on your own skin. If still uncertain, just touch its back that is slightly moving and you can be totally sure that the baby is breathing.
These worries are mostly related to children whose head during babywearing and sleeping is not turned sideways but buried in the chest of the babywearer. In this case – if it’s not possible to position the head sideways – watch the breathing of your child more often and control the nose. The rule that you can better control your child when it’s close to you still applies. The most cases of the SIDS happened to children that lied alone in their bed.
Remember that “the others” do not see and feel your baby as you do. It is you and only you with a hundred percent control over your child at the moment, fully capable of evaluating its breathing capabilities.

You will damage its back! Look how hunched the baby is!

The spine of a new-born is shaped into letter C, in the so called kyphosis. Until the desired S-shape is formed, it takes approximately a year. The first bending comes with strengthening 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 the hip muscles (when the child is able to stand alone).
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.
Babywearing favours this natural process the most. One of the basic rules of babywearing in wraps or soft structured carriers is rounded back (at a later age children automatically straighten it themselves). More information on this subject can be found in our article.

The baby does not hold its head, you will damage its spine, and it needs to lay on a flat surface.

In his book A Child – 3x333 Questions for a Paediatrician the Prof. MD. Velemínsky writes:
“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.”
We will only add that the head of the baby is not just dancing around in a space, but leaning on the chest of the mother, secured from the sides and regulated by a wrap or a soft structured carrier. The child that is not able to control its neck muscles is much safer in a wrap than carried in the arms.
More information on this subject can be found in our article.

Children should not be forced into sitting sooner than they can sit themselves, and yours is sitting there!

The child in a soft structured carrier or a wrap does not sit, but is positioned in a deep seat. When a child is sitting, tights and knees are straight at the level of hips. In a carrier the knees lead up to a high position over the hip area, that means the bum is lower than its knees and not at the same level. This position does not put pressure on its spine and does not force the child into strengthening, as happens in sitting position.

Isn’t it too warm there for the baby?

Babies need warmth. However, the main (and important) difference is that while a fully dressed up baby lying on a pad or in a pushchair is not able to regulate its body temperature – either high or low (according to the number of layers of clothes), its temperature is perfectly regulated on your body. Potential sweeting is only a positive effect of this regulation. With proper dressing of your child during babywearing this sweeting too can be easily regulated.
If you are asked this question in summer, just think if you would not be hot and sweating the same even without a baby. And the baby would feel the same. You would probably be sweating the same or just a little less. By choosing the right wrap and clothes made of various breathable and permeable materials as bamboo, tencel and silk or with thermoregulation ability like wool you can eliminate even this effect and feel even better than when wearing the classic clothes.

Won’t the child fall out?

You might try to ask them “and from which side?” :)
Even when you are a beginner and your child is not perfectly deeply seated, when wearing in the Front Wrap Cross Carry, the lower part of its body is secured by a cross, which means another two passes of a wrap. The same applies to many other carries. If you use carries that are airy from both sides, always tighten the wrap properly. Soft structured carriers already have several securing devices on buckles which only increases their safety and security in cases of spontaneous opening of the buckle.
But we can easily take a look at the most extreme case when baby falls out (even if we have no idea where from :)) – do you really think you will not feel slackening of the wrap or buckles of the soft structured carrier and would not be ready to react quickly?
Once again the rule mentioned earlier is valid – your baby is close to you with you having the total control over it. Which, in other cases when the child is not near you, is not applicable.

Poor little thing! It cannot see anything!

Children up to three months only need to see and feel their mother or father. To be safe and close to the source of food and tranquillity. Only later it starts demanding more from its environment. When the child is able to hold its head, it can move it freely and look sideways and up. Even now it can see more than when being in a stroller. Moreover, children are capable enough of showing their will. If the view is too limited for them, they will show discomfort, scream or do just anything to let you know about their need.
Calmly show the content face of your child to all the people that don´t believe you or have no idea what they are talking about and ask them, of they think your child really needs something else than what it now has. And if it does need something else, you can easily wear it on your hip or back and thus securing a plenty of view for it.

You will spoil the child!

It is not possible to spoil a child this way, because it already “is”. You “spoiled” it in your uterus. After birth you just continue in its natural development by providing your baby with as much contact as possible. You use a wrap to relieve your arms and avoid damaging your back.
The new-born baby has no idea that it has become a separate individual. What it does know is the feeling of rightness when being with mother. Children do not understand the fact that even when they cannot see you, you’re still there, and they won’t comprehend this until 9 or 12 months. A child cannot hold on to a mental image of its mother to comfort itself. Time does not exist for it yet, so it means nothing when you tell your child “Mommy will be back in a minute”. Mother’s permanent emotional availability helps the child to learn to put confidence, at first to the mother, later to the child itself. Confidence leads to independence. That means the child has to come through a phase of healthy dependence at the first place, to become a healthy independent individual later.
You can read more about this issue in books: Our Babies, Ourselves, Raising our Children, Raising Ourselves, or Continuum Concept.

Such a young woman destroying her back

Try to make a small experiment. Assess, how long you carry your child during one day. Try to carry him the same amount of time the next day, but not in a wrap or a carrier but in your arms. Hard to imagine, isn't it? You would probably give up after few hours. Because of pain and discomfort during carrying your children in your arms you would lose at least 50 percent of contact that the child needs. Yes, the contact can be provided by another ways – by lying together, etc. However, when you need to live your everyday life, you cannot afford a constant lying. Once again we would like to stress that wraps and carriers are just aids that help you fulfil the psychological needs of your child in a comfortable and effective way.
Naturally you have to think of yourself. By choosing the right carrier and mastering the wrapping technique you will not destroy your back in any way. Different case is if you have had a problem with your back for a longer time, not related to babywearing at all. The growing weight of a child is not an obstacle for parents who babywear regularly or/and when babywearing from birth. The same rule applies here as when exercising – if the weight increases gradually and not abruptly, your body will get used to it naturally. The weight of our children definitely does not jump out of a sudden ;)
When listening to all those – surely not ill-intentioned – comments from people around, just keep in mind your reasons to babywear and that wraps and carriers are just aids that help fulfil the needs of your child and yourself living your common life without destroying your arms and back.