Newborn carrying is amazing, there is nothing like having a new baby snuggled against you, safe, secure and close. However, newborn carrying also comes with additional safety considerations so that we are ensuring their airway remains clear and their physiological position is respected.
The biggest safety concern with newborn carrying is ensuring their airway remains clear so that they are breathing. Newborn babies have low muscle tone and cannot hold their heads up and lack control of the muscles in their trunk. This lack of muscle tone means that it is very easy for a baby to slump into a position which closes the airway and they will not be able to move themselves to open it. All carriers being used with newborns must assist in maintaining this airway when the baby is being carried.
Newborn babies are also generally born very curled up and with a narrow hip opening – their knees do not open widely from their bodies. Their joints are also still very soft and as previously discussed they have low muscle tone. This all means that we need to be respectful of the position baby wants to be in, opening legs too wide can damage the developing joint and baby won’t have the strength to move their own position.
What slings can I use?
You’ll be glad to know that the range of slings and carriers available which are suitable from birth has expanded hugely in the last few years, giving families a great deal of choice about what options fit well in their lives. Remember – there is no ‘best’ sling but with newborns extra care needs to be taken to make sure that whatever you choose is safe and secure!
Here are our suggestions and recommendations for a safe, secure and comfortable way to carry your newborn baby
A woven wrap is your most versatile option, it will last from birth right up until you don’t want to carry anymore and it can be used by anyone, any size in a whole range of ways.
Using a woven with a newborn means paying attention to the carry being used, in particular looking for carries or variations which don’t overspread the hips and ensure the spine is supported fully to keep the airway open. Great carries for newborns include Front Wrap Cross Carry with a twist under the bum, Kangaroo and Front Double Hammock.
A stretchy wrap is one of the most popular options for carrying newborns. The option to pre-tie and pop baby in an out makes it a very practical choice, and like a woven wrap it can be used by anyone, any size without adjusting anything.
Using a stretchy with a newborn means ensuring the wrap is on tight enough to support baby’s position fully and maintain their airway. It also means being respectful of the narrow hip opening so it can be worth adjusting the carry being used in the first few weeks. It can be great to use a stretchy in a Pocket Wrap Double Hammock carry.
As an alternative to a long cloth stretchy you can also get stretchy carriers such as the Close Caboo which are pre sewn into shape. These are more expensive, but some people may find them easier to get to grips with.
Adjustable Meh Dai
Many Meh Dai are only suitable from approximately 6 months, however some are adjustable to fit smaller babies. Meh Dai can be a great halfway house between wrapping and using a structured carrier. They have many of the benefits of using a woven, they can be fitted to a wide range of people and the fabric and long straps make them very adjustable and mould-able. We recommend a wrap fabric brand because of the soft and mould-able nature of the cloth.
Using a Meh Dai with a newborn means finding one you can adjust to fit the position of your baby. Adjustable brands include the Storchenweige Carrier, Hoppediz HopTye, Fidella FlyTai and Didymos DidyTai.
A ring sling can be a great quick option for a newborn. They are simple and easy to adjust to different sized people, they are quick to use and are just a single layer over baby. Ring slings are suitable from newborn right up until you no longer find them comfortable. We recommend using a wrap fabric brand as these are often easier to adjust and fit, and will often be comfortable for longer.
Using a ring sling with a newborn means supporting their natural position in the pouch created by the fabric. Careful set up of the size of the pouch and tightening will give a supportive carry.
Adjustable Buckle Carriers/SSCs
A buckle carrier can be one of the quickest options to learn and to put in, however it is also the type of sling with the greatest variation. The range of buckle carriers available has grown exponentially in the last few years and many more carriers are now suitable from birth. As with Meh Dai, many buckle carriers are sized to fit babies 6 months and older, however there are now a range of adaptable and adjustable carriers suitable from birth.
Buckle carriers vary a lot in how they fit people because of the structure. Different body shapes will find different styles of carrier comfortable. For this reason it can take a while to find what style of carrier suits, or you might find the perfect one straight away! They have different buckle placement, straps shape, strap padding, waist band shape, waist band padding, panel shape and size…. so many things can vary!
There are two main ways buckle carriers can be fitted to newborns, either by adjusting the shape of the panel or by using an insert. In the vast majority of cases we will recommend options which do not require a separate insert, because these are generally easier to get a great position for your baby in. Carriers we recommend are the Size 1 Integra, Ergobaby Adapt, Ergobaby Omni 360, Mamaruga Zensling, Tula Free-To-Grow, Beco Gemini, Emeibaby and Standard Connecta.
Three carriers which do use an insert but which we feel give great positioning and are easier to get to grips with are the Je Port Mon Bebe PhysioCarrier, Beco 8 and the Boba 4G.
All of these carriers have the advantage of also fitting for a long time, usually to at least 18 months.
If you’d like to discuss your options in more detail, why not book a consultation with us? We can discuss your needs over the phone or over Skype if you’d like to see demonstrations in more detail. We offer 15 minute phone consultations for free, and offer longer slots if you need them!