Carrying children - scarf, pouch sling or baby backpack?

Certainly everyone of you have at least once met with another mother, who didn’t bring a child in a stroller, but carried her child in a carrier (whether a scarf or a backpack). Maybe you are that mother too. Perhaps some people watch you with smile, others with an offense, and sometimes you may even hear negative remarks spoken your way. If you have been interested by the previous part of this article, where we dealt with positive health issues of carrying the baby, but you are still not sure, what kind of carrier to choose, we bring you another article concerning this topic, where we will try to focus on the specific benefits and disadvantages of the carriers. We will look closer at the most frequently used ones: scarves, pouch slings or baby backpacks.

ADVANTAGES OF CARRYING THE CHILD

  • Any transport with children in the baby carrier is without difficulties.
  • It is not difficult to get into crowded means of transport.
  • You will get without any problems to the store, office or any other institution.
  • You can easily and quickly leave this environment.
  • You can easy get with your baby to places, where you can’t go with a stroller.
  • Carrying a baby in the carrie requires less attention, than baby in a stroller.
  • The baby is protected against an attack of a stranger by the body of mother.
  • Mother with a baby in a carrier can focus on her work when she is for example cooking, taking care of the household or siblings, without the baby lying always in the cot. That way the child joins the family life faster.

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SCARF

You can carry the child in the scarf already in the hospital (if you lose shyness and you will overlook the prejudice of the medical personnel, or other people). Scarf is according to its length 3-6 meters giving us a big variability of wrapping (options how to attach the baby to your body).

What kind of wrap to use?

  • Babies who are not able to sit straight by themselves
    For babies that do not sit straight yet, or they are not able to sit up by themselves, are ideal wraps where the baby is sort of lying in a fetus position. For such wrap you need a scarf long at least 4 meters.
  • Children older 9 months
    If you want to carry a child older than 9 months, you can wrap them in a way so that they would sit before your chest towards you, alternatively on your back. For this wrap you need at least 5,5 - 6 meters.
  • Older children
    If you want to carry older children only for a short while, you can carry them on your side. You can basically carry children like this since they are born, and the weight limit is all up to you, and quality of the scarf. Someone likes to carry their children even up to the pre-school age. The scarf enables you to wrap the child as close as possible to your body, and the baby doesn’t have much space to „throw a tantrum”. You don’t have to worry about the baby falling out. The scarf enables you to wrap the baby through one shoulder (easier wraps) or both shoulders, back and chest (more complex wraps). Then it is up to the carrier (usually mother), which of the options she finds more comfortable in the given situation.

Positives

  • Positive effect on the treatment of orthopedic defects
    Carrying the baby in a scarf can have a positive effect on the prevention or treatment of orthopedic defects of the hip joint. It always depends on which kind of wrap you will decide for, because it differs in individual cases. For example baby in a criss cross sling wrap variation sits with both legs being spread. That causes in the hips flexion (bending), outer rotation and adduction of the legs. Pelvis is shifted backwards, meanwhile the back of the child is fully supported by tightly wrapped scarf. Smaller children need also support for their head, which you can easily create with the scarf.
  • Taking walks even in a freezing weather
    Undisputed advantage of scarf is that the baby is so close to the mother (or other carrier), that it is warmed up by the mother and at the same time it breaths warmed up air (assuming you have your baby along with the scarf hidden under a jacket). Pediatricians recommend to not walk outside with the newborn baby, if the temperature of air drops below -5°C. Low temperatures put high demands on the heart activity of the baby. However in case of the baby being carried in a scarf, this rule does not apply. Therefore you can go outside even with a newborn baby during freezing weather. Simply cover your baby with your jacket, and the child will be by you as in an „incubator”.
  • Supporting the correct body posture of the mother
    Carrying the baby in a scarf is also beneficial for mother. Not only does it enable you to have an emotional relationship with your baby, but the wrap, which uses the criss cross wrap on the back as well as chest stimulates muscle chains, which helps the mothers to hold a correct body posture.
  • Easy transport of the baby
  • You can keep the baby close to you any time you want

Negatives

  • Risk of wrong wrapping
    The disadvantage of the scarf is namely in wrong wrapping or incorrectly placing the baby into the scarf. It is always necessary to keep the scarf tied firmly to your body. If the scarf is too loose, the child will not be able to hold in a correct position because of the gravity. The spine of the baby is then burdened in higher pressure, rotated and bent, cervical spine is excessively bending, hip joints are rotated inwardly, the position of the pelvis is also not in a correct position. But if you learn to tie the scarf in a correct way ( we recommend to visit at least 2 hour long course organized by the scarf sellers), you will surely avoid its incorrect use.

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SLING POUCH

Positives

  • Easy transportation of the baby
  • You can keep the baby close to you any time you want
  • There are no risks of incorrect wrapping as it is by scarf

Negatives

  • Usually suitable only for small children
    From a medical point of view is sling pouch ideal for small babies given to the fact that babies lie in it in a similar position as they once did in the mother’s womb.
  • Most sling pouches do not enable you to tighten it close to your body
    If you need to bow down to pick something etc .; you have to always hold the baby with one arm, so that it wouldn’t fall out from the pouch, some pouches can be tied with a cord for higher safety of the baby, but even so, the child is never closely attached to the mother.
  • Bigger burden for your body
    Given the fact that sling pouch is always attached through one shoulder and its center of the gravity further from the center of the gravity of mother (carrier), which makes carrying more demanding than carrying a baby in a scarf.

 

BABY BACKPACK

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Positives

  • Modern look
  • You can keep the baby close to you any time you want
  • Easy transportation of the baby
  • There are no risks of incorrect wrapping as it is by scarf
  • It offers easiest manipulation (compared to the offered options)
  • Carrying is very comfortable for the carrier, because shoulder straps are cushined

Negatives

  • It doesn’t offer a natural position for the newborn baby and infants
    For the smallest children is natural position in a somewhat lying position, when the single vertebrae and intervertebral discs are not burdened by the gravitation and therefore there is not such big pressure involved on them. Vertebrae and soft tissues around them are in the first half of the first year of life usually cartilaginous, and therefore any pressure on them can deform their shape. It can result in scoliosis of the spine.
  • They are not very ideal for children, who are able to sit straight by themselves
    They are ideal by children who already are capable of sitting up straight by themselves from lying position. Such child can sit straight with stretched legs to the sides. I do not mean infants that are seated by you, and cushions can keep them in some form of tilted sitting position. We have in mind children older 9 months. In contrast is the bearing capability presented by the produced of the baby backpack. Usually you find a note saying it is ideal for children weighing up to 9 kg. In other words, if you have a baby at home weighing approximately 7 kg old 9 months, and the baby is able to sit straight alone, you can use such backpack up until one year. But you can find on the market also such backpack, which are designed to carry heavier loads. We even found such that are able to carry 15 kg children. Therefore don’t look at the price, brand or whether you like it when buying such backpack, instead look at its specifics so that you wouldn’t buy a product which you would use only for short amount of time.

It is only up to you, what kind of carrier will you choose for your baby and yourself. We wish you to choose the best option and many beautiful moments spent with your baby in a close relationship.

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Source: DIDYMOS GmbH

Published in magazine Uzlíček, No: 8/2007
Author: Mgr. Iva Bílková, FYZIOklinika fyzioterapie Ltd, Prague, Czech Republic

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