One of the first things you learn in your on-the-job training as a parent is that you need to know how to master the art of multitasking. That's not to say that every person with a child is successful in the art of juggling multiple things at once. It's definitely something that takes both practice and patience. One of the staples of parental multitasking is wearing your little one so you can keep your hands free at all times. But if you're anything like me, you've probably wondered about how to make babywearing less painful since it isn't exactly the easiest thing.
Thankfully, there are quite a few modifications and tips out there to help take the weight off of your shoulders — literally and figuratively. Whether you're carrying your newborn in a cozy sling or toting your toddler like a backpacking hiker, there's a solution for your unique needs. Finding ways to make wearing your little one more comfortable doesn't just benefit your aching muscles, it's likely to make your child feel more secure, too. So if you're new to the kangaroo game or just curious about how to make babywearing less painful, check out these tips.
1. Start Off Right
Before you even get your wrap out, you might want to consider how your approach can affect things. As professor of physical therapy Dr. Jill Boissonnault told Parents, when you pick up your baby, bend your knees and avoid rotating your upper body as you stand. This way, you're not putting any unnecessary strain on your spine before you've even begun the babywearing process.
2. Be Flexible
As parenting expert Lacy Stroessner told Disney Baby, you should be open-minded and try out different baby carriers, materials, and methods to see which one is the right fit for you and your little one. It's also helpful to remember that as your child grows and develops, you might need to adjust your routine accordingly.
3. Balance It Out
In a way, babywearing is similar to carrying anything heavy on your back. The more focused the pressure, the less comfortable it can be. That's why, as Master Babywearing Educator (MBE) Lori Post noted on the official site for the Baby Wearing Institute (BWI), you can, "spread the wrap away from your neck and across your shoulder to distribute the weight more evenly." Even a newborn can strain your upper back after a long day of carrying.
4. Keep It Tight
Mnemonic devices are a great way to remember important information. According to Baby Begin, there's a handy acronym to ensure safe and comfortable babywearing called TICKS, which stands for:
- In view at all times
- Close enough to kiss
- Keep [their] chin off [their] chest and with a...
- Supported back.
Not only does this keep your baby happy and healthy, but your body will be rejoicing, too.
5. Check The Temperature
Any athlete will tell you that pushing yourself in the heat and getting dehydrated is a recipe for a painful burnout. As it turns out, the same logic goes for babywearing. As author and parenting expert Allaya Cooks-Campbell told HuffPost, in the warmer months you should take temperature into account and stay hydrated to avoid overdoing it while wearing your baby. There's no shame in tapping out.
6. Remember To Inspect
Just like an appliance or a regularly used object doesn't perform as well when it's got some age on it, carriers can do the same. According to Today's Parent, "wear and tear" can cause an uncomfortable babywearing experience. It's a good rule of thumb to regularly check your trusty carrier for any signs of deterioration.
This tip is especially helpful if you're a babywearing beginner. As Stroessner told Disney Baby, you should "practice at home several times with and without baby" to avoid a potentially painful position. Once, I gave a new carrier a test drive by using a small watermelon. Don't knock it until you've tried it, right?
8. Trust Your Gut
If you're still experiencing a high level of discomfort despite trying different babywearing approaches, you might want to talk to a medical professional. For instance, I have scoliosis and used to ignore my body's signals and just push through the pain. But when my son's pediatrician noticed me wincing and favoring my right side as I took my baby out of the carrier, he advised me to always listen to my body and check with a doctor when in doubt. So if you feel like something just isn't right, trust your instinct and ask for medical help.