Baby Wearing Ergonomics
As a chiropractor, I can’t stress to you enough the importance of ergonomics when it comes to babywearing. Not only do you need to find a carrier that fits you well and distributes the baby’s weight well on your body, but its also vitally important the carrier is supporting the baby’s hips, pelvis and spine.
The best type of carriers are ones that distribute most of the baby’s weight evenly through your hips and secure around both shoulders. Good examples of this are Ergobaby, Manduca carriers and some Mei Tais and wraps. They are also designed to seat the baby in the “M” posture whereby their bottom is positioned central in the carrier, is lower than their knees and thier hips are spread open.
The potential damage occurs when the carrier places most of the stress through the crotch and the hip joints. Babies are particularily vunerable if they have been diagnosed with a hip problem, such as hip displasia, as the forces that travel through the baby’s body are directed through the hip joints. This is especially the case when the baby is facing outwards in the carrier and their legs are dangling.
On the topic of outward-facing carriers, there a few things you need to consider before putting your baby in this position; firstly its not recommended for babies under the age of 4 months. They still have poor head control and can fatigue quickly which will put excess stress on their neck and spine. Also young babies can get over-stimulated easily, so when they are facing outwards there is no “retreat” into their parents to block out the stimuli. Secondly, this position not only places excess strain on the hip joints, but also on their lumbar spine (lower spine) as it forces it to hyperextend which can lead to stress fractures within the spine and lead to spondylolisthesis.
Other good resources on this topic can be found here:
To find a paediatric chiropractor in your area go to The International Paediatric Chiropractic Association
To find out more about hip dysplasia go to The International Hip Dysplasia Institute at : http://www.hipdysplasia.org
Related article: Babywearing Safety