Education Archive

Don’t Cry Over Breastmilk: Babywearing and Breastfeeding On Demand

In the last post, we discussed the biological and social mechanisms that may help us understand one of the most sought-out benefits of babywearing: calmer, happier babies who cry less. Though physiological processes involved in close physical contact help calm the infant and regulate their sleep cycles – thereby leading to a reduction in crying – there may be an important social process involved as well: caregiver responsiveness. How caregivers respond to their babies shows variation across cultures. In Western industrialized cultures for example, infant-caregiver communication is characterized by high levels of vocal and visual interaction and prompt responses to infants’ cues. However, one of the potentially most important forms of responsiveness is breastfeeding on-demand in response to early hunger cues. Higher rates of on-demand breastfeeding are seen in the proximal care cultures that are also known for their low levels of infant crying.[i]

Does breastfeeding decrease crying?

If so, this would be great news for babywearers, as one of the widely cited benefits of wearing your baby is that babywearing facilitates breastfeeding. Skin-to-skin contact is proven to facilitate lactation and longer duration of breastfeeding,[ii] thus leading to protection against childhood infection, decreased risk of childhood obesity and diabetes, and decreased risk of ovarian and breast cancer.[iii] The health benefits of breastfeeding are undisputed, but what is the connection between babywearing, breastfeeding, and crying?

Actually, current evidence on the relationship between breastfeeding and crying is inconclusive, given that breastfed infants have been found to show greater distress, less smiling, laughing, vocalization, and lower sooth-ability than formula-fed infants.[iv] However, the specific mechanism for crying reduction may not be in breastfeeding itself, but rather in the specific type of breastfeeding responsiveness that is practiced in proximal care cultures: breastfeeding on-demand. Breastfeeding on-demand refers to feeding infants in response to early hunger cues (e.g., rooting, squirming) as opposed to late cues (i.e., crying).[v] Breastfeeding on-demand – in some cultures – can occur up to four times per hour.[vi] 

What is the role of physical contact in breastfeeding on-demand?

As mentioned previously, proximal care cultures that are known for being in physical contact with their infants for the majority of the day – and are also known for their decreased levels of infant crying in comparison with most Western, industrialized societies – also practice breastfeeding on demand. Is this culturally-mediated combination of factors enough evidence to suggest that breastfeeding on-demand may actually cause decreased crying? One study found that feeding on-demand – rather than to a schedule – effectively increased infants’ display of early hunger cues, suggesting that breastfeeding in response to cues motivates infants to use other forms of communication rather than crying.[vii] However, studies on this topic are few and far between…We still have much to learn!

Current research

In hopes of elucidating the connection between physical contact, responsive breastfeeding, and crying, the UCSD Developmental Lab is conducting research to look at maternal feeding behaviors here in Western culture. Preliminary research shows that breastfeeding in response to early hunger cues – rather than in response to crying or feeding according to a schedule – is predicted by mother-infant physical contact. Specifically, mothers documented each feeding session with their child over three consecutive days, noting whether they were in physical contact with the baby before the onset of feeding and the reason for each feeding (crying, hunger cues, or schedule). The prediction was that mothers would be more likely to initiate feedings in response to early hunger cues (e.g., rooting, squirming) if they were in close physical contact with the baby before deciding to feed. Whereas if they were farther away from their child (e.g., baby sleeping in a crib or playing on the floor), mothers would be more likely to realize their child was hungry from crying, as the lack of close contact would potentially make mothers less aware of the more subtle hunger cues. Analyses are still in process, but preliminary results show that there is a strong association between mother-infant physical contact and responsiveness to hunger cues.

Though this study is not testing the effect on crying yet, there are still exciting implications for babywearing-related public health interventions. Specifically, feeding on-demand promotes the development of healthy, self-regulated eating behaviors[viii] and is associated with decreased risk for childhood obesity.[ix] In our adult-run society, we often forget the extraordinary competencies that infants have and attempt to manage their biological functions through scheduled feeding times and naptimes. However, at as young as eight weeks, infants can regulate their breastmilk intake[x] and adjust the volume that they drink in response to the energy content.[xi]  Breastfeeding in response to infants’ cues of hunger and satiation – rather than according to an adult-determined schedule – recognizes this impressive ability of young infants to self-regulate food intake according to their needs.

 

Stay tuned for more details on this research and click here to get involved!

 

This Guest Blog was written by Emily E. Little, M.A.

Emily is a doctoral candidate in developmental psychology at University of California, San Diego. Her dissertation research examines the social mechanisms underlying the benefits of babywearing, including how increased mother-infant physical contact facilitates higher maternal responsiveness. Her research program more broadly investigates culturally-mediated mother-infant communication, and she has collected data on early teaching in Vanuatu, infant emotional displays in Bolivia, and breastfeeding patterns in Guatemala. She is also specializing in anthropogeny, or the study of human origins, through UCSD’s Center for Academic Research and Training in Anthropogeny (CARTA), which has added an evolutionary perspective to her interests in culture, mother-infant interaction, and babywearing. She is passionate about making a positive contribution in the communities where she works, not just in San Diego – where she volunteers as a Volunteer Babywearing Educator in training with Babywearing International – but also at her international fieldsites, where she volunteers at community health centers and raises money for maternal and infant health services.

 

[i] Richman, A. L., Miller, P. M., & LeVine, R. A. (1992). Cultural and educational variations in maternal responsiveness. Developmental Psychology28(4), 614.

[ii] Anderson, G. C., Chiu, S. H., Dombrowski, M. A., Swinth, J. Y., Albert, J. M., & Wada, N. (2003). Mother‐Newborn Contact in a Randomized Trial of Kangaroo (Skin‐to‐Skin) Care. Journal of Obstetric, Gynecologic, & Neonatal Nursing32(5), 604-611.

[iii] Victora, C. G., Bahl, R., Barros, A. J., França, G. V., Horton, S., Krasevec, J., … & Group, T. L. B. S. (2016). Breastfeeding in the 21st century: epidemiology, mechanisms, and lifelong effect. The Lancet387(10017), 475-490.

[iv] de Lauzon-Guillain, B., Wijndaele, K., Clark, M., Acerini, C. L., Hughes, I. A., Dunger, D. B., … & Ong, K. K. (2012). Breastfeeding and infant temperament at age three months. PLoS One7(1), e29326.

[v] Hodges, E. A., Hughes, S. O., Hopkinson, J., & Fisher, J. O. (2008). Maternal decisions about the initiation and termination of infant feeding.Appetite50(2), 333-339.

[vi] Barr, R. G., Konner, M., Bakeman, R., & Adamson, L. (1991). Crying in! Kung San infants: a test of the cultural specificity hypothesis.Developmental Medicine & Child Neurology33(7), 601-610.

[vii] Saunders, R. B., Friedman, C. B., & Stramoski, P. R. (1991). Feeding preterm infants. Journal of Obstetric, Gynecologic, & Neonatal Nursing,20(3), 212-220.

[viii] Wright, P., Fawcett, J., & Crow, R. (1980). The development of differences in the feeding behaviour of bottle and breast fed human infants from birth to two months. Behavioural Processes5(1), 1-20.

[ix] Birch, L. L., & Fisher, J. O. (1998). Development of eating behaviors among children and adolescents. Pediatrics101(Supplement 2), 539-549.

[x] Li, R., Fein, S. B., & Grummer-Strawn, L. M. (2010). Do infants fed from bottles lack self-regulation of milk intake compared with directly breastfed infants?. Pediatrics125(6), e1386-e1393.

[xi] Fox, M. K., Devaney, B., Reidy, K., Razafindrakoto, C., & Ziegler, P. (2006). Relationship between portion size and energy intake among infants and toddlers: evidence of self-regulation. Journal of the American Dietetic Association106(1), 77-83.

Rock-a-bye Baby: Biological and Social Processes Underlying Calming Effects of Babywearing

In a previous blog post, we discussed the relation between infant crying and carrying, showing that increased physical contact with infants is associated with decreased crying. Many different types of studies – from randomized control trials of skin-to-skin contact to ethnographic descriptions of care-giving in other cultures – have come to the same conclusion, lending further support to the vast benefits of wearing your baby. These findings do not entirely solve the puzzle, however, as the reason for WHY physical contact is so calming is still an open question. As with most human phenomena, there seems to be an intricate combination of biological, cultural, and psychological forces at play.

How does physical contact regulate infant distress?

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Biological Mechanisms: Sensory Stimulation

In an experimental study with mouse pups, experimenters isolated the effects of physical contact from related sensations of maternal carrying.  Experimenters administered local anesthesia to the part of the body in physical contact with the mother during carrying (i.e., the base of the neck where the mouse mother picks up the pup), thereby removing the effect of physical contact. When mouse pups couldn’t actually feel the sensation of tactile contact from the mother, the calming reaction – that mouse pups usually show when carried – was not demonstrated. Similarly, after temporarily disrupting the functioning of the part of the brain that controls proprioception, which allows us to feel rhythmic sensations like being rocked, being carried by the mothers also did not elicit the calming effect seen in mouse pups during normal carrying interactions. When exposing the mouse pups to visual, olfactory, or auditory stimuli, the calming effects also could not be induced. These results show that both the physical contact with the mother and the sensation of being rocked are responsible for the calming effects of carrying.[1]

Why is touch and physical contact more calming than visual or vocal contact with caregivers?

Many people know that newborns do not arrive into the world with fully-developed eyesight and in fact, both the visual and auditory systems are still developing well into the first years of life. Given the sensitivity of the developing sensory system, inappropriate amounts of visual or auditory stimulation not only lack the ability to calm infants, but can actually interrupt sensory development[2] and physiological processes like sleep cycles.[3] Physical contact is the most gentle and developmentally-appropriate modality of interaction with newborn infants. In addition, babywearing in a front carrier (not forward-facing) allows infants to regulate their stimulation level by giving them a place to turn their face into the calming safety zone of the caregiver’s chest, rather than being bombarded with overwhelming amounts of visual and auditory stimulation.

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Biological Mechanisms: Oxytocin

It is nearly impossible to read anything about birthing and postnatal bonding without mention of the “love drug” oxytocin. Within the context of infant-caregiver physical contact, the production of the neuropeptide oxytocin that is stimulated by skin-to-skin contact is able to increase maternal breast temperature,[4] explaining the miraculous incubator-like effects of skin-to-skin kangaroo care (for more info, see the blog post on kangaroo care). Beyond the physiological effects, can oxytocin also provide an explanation for increased calmness and decreased crying associated with babywearing?

It is unclear whether oxytocin itself decreases crying. However, oxytocin may be mediating decreased crying through a social mechanism: increased maternal responsiveness. Oxytocin is well established in its ability to elicit maternal care and affection[5] and has also been shown to increase patience and interactivity in fathers.[6] Oxytocin is also specifically implicated in the neural response to infant crying.[7]

So why would maternal responsiveness explain the calming effects of babywearing?

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 Social Mechanisms: Responsiveness

Responsiveness refers to the ability to respond to infants’ signals promptly and appropriately. Why is this important when trying to understand the relationship between physical contact and crying?

As outlined in a previous blog on crying and physical contact, the cultures with the lowest rates of crying have some of the highest rates of physical contact with infants. Interestingly, these proximal care cultures also exhibit another important difference in care-giving style: increased responsiveness. Specifically, adult caregivers respond more quickly – almost in an anticipatory fashion – to infants’ cues.[8] In contrast to Western culture, responsiveness in these cultures often refers to a tendency to respond specifically to signs of distress, rather than playful bids for attention.[9]

Experimental research has also highlighted a connection between babywearing, responsiveness, and decreased crying. In the intervention study of the effect of babywearing by Anisfeld and colleagues, mothers in the babywearing group were more responsive to infants during a play session at three months than parents in the control group. [10] Developmental scientists – in studies such as these – generally measure responsiveness as vocal or visual communicative responses within the context of dyadic playtime between infants and caregivers. But a closer look at the variation in responsiveness across cultures suggests that this methodological approach may be constraining our views of responsiveness. In proximal care cultures, responsiveness is not only referring to highly contingent responses to any sign of infant distress, but to a specific type of response, which is often offering the breast for nursing.

Is responsive breastfeeding one of the specific forms of responsiveness driving the decreased crying seen in proximal care cultures? Is there evidence for this from experimental studies of breastfeeding? Stay tuned! Next blog post will address the relation between mother-infant physical contact, breastfeeding, and crying.

 

This Guest Blog was written by Emily E. Little, M.A.

Emily is a doctoral candidate in developmental psychology at University of California, San Diego. Her dissertation research examines the social mechanisms underlying the benefits of babywearing, including how increased mother-infant physical contact facilitates higher maternal responsiveness. Her research program more broadly investigates culturally-mediated mother-infant communication, and she has collected data on early teaching in Vanuatu, infant emotional displays in Bolivia, and breastfeeding patterns in Guatemala. She is also specializing in anthropogeny, or the study of human origins, through UCSD’s Center for Academic Research and Training in Anthropogeny (CARTA), which has added an evolutionary perspective to her interests in culture, mother-infant interaction, and babywearing. She is passionate about making a positive contribution in the communities where she works, not just in San Diego – where she volunteers as a Volunteer Babywearing Educator in training with Babywearing International – but also at her international fieldsites, where she volunteers at community health centers and raises money for maternal and infant health services.

[1] Esposito, G., Yoshida, S., Ohnishi, R., Tsuneoka, Y., del Carmen Rostagno, M., Yokota, S., … & Venuti, P. (2013). Infant calming responses during maternal carrying in humans and mice. Current Biology23(9), 739-745.

[2] Kathleen Philbin, M., Ballweg, D. D., & Gray, L. (1994). The effect of an intensive care unit sound environment on the development of habituation in healthy avian neonates. Developmental psychobiology27(1), 11-21.

[3] Hao, H., & Rivkees, S. A. (1999). The biological clock of very premature primate infants is responsive to light. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences96(5), 2426-2429.

[4] Winberg, J. A. N. (2005). Mother and newborn baby: mutual regulation of physiology and behavior—a selective review. Developmental psychobiology47(3), 217-229.

[5] Pedersen, C. A., Ascher, J. A., Monroe, Y. L., & Prange, A. J. (1982). Oxytocin induces maternal behavior in virgin female rats. Science,216(4546), 648-650.

[6] Naber, F., van IJzendoorn, M. H., Deschamps, P., van Engeland, H., & Bakermans-Kranenburg, M. J. (2010). Intranasal oxytocin increases fathers’ observed responsiveness during play with their children: a double-blind within-subject experiment. Psychoneuroendocrinology,35(10), 1583-1586.

[7] Riem, M. M., Van Ijzendoorn, M. H., Tops, M., Boksem, M. A., Rombouts, S. A., & Bakermans-Kranenburg, M. J. (2012). No laughing matter: intranasal oxytocin administration changes functional brain connectivity during exposure to infant laughter. Neuropsychopharmacology37(5), 1257-1266.

[8] Richman, A. L., Miller, P. M., & LeVine, R. A. (1992). Cultural and educational variations in maternal responsiveness. Developmental Psychology28(4), 614.

[9] Barr, R. G., Konner, M., Bakeman, R., & Adamson, L. (1991). Crying in! Kung San infants: a test of the cultural specificity hypothesis.Developmental Medicine & Child Neurology33(7), 601-610.

[10] Anisfeld, E., Casper, V., Nozyce, M., & Cunningham, N. (1990). Does infant carrying promote attachment? An experimental study of the effects of increased physical contact on the development of attachment. Child development61(5), 1617-1627.

The Many Layers of Babywearing: From a Chiropractor’s Perspective

babywearing chiropractorThe Many Layers of Babywearing

Guest Blog written by Dr. Stephanie Williams Libs, DC
www.cafeoflifesandiego.com
Pregnancy and Pediatric Chiropractic Specialist

Most of us already know the benefits that babywearing can have for your baby — they cry less, they sleep better, they poop better, they adapt better, they grow better, the list goes on. But what if I told you that babywearing was just as beneficial for the caregivers as it is for baby? That’s right! We can identify their needs quickly, we can comfort them emotionally and increase our bond with baby, and it helps with postpartum recovery. As a pediatric and pregnancy chiropractor, I see the differences in families who babywear and families who don’t, not just in their spines, but in their connection to one another.

Babywearing: The First Postpartum Exercisering sling
Babywearing helps with postpartum recovery by keeping the baby closer to mama’s core. We grow this human over the course of 40(ish) weeks and all of a sudden they are outside of our bodies and our deflated tummy changes the entire ergonomic structure of our nervous system, our skeletal system, our muscular system, our digestive system and our connective tissue system. Babywearing is the first exercise postpartum. It’s been done in cultures for thousands of years. According to my colleague and friend Dr. Lindsey Matthews, DC, founder of BIRTHFIT.com, “babywearing is the first ‘exercise’ we recommend, if they can do it for twenty minutes per day without [urinary] leakage or bleeding then we add on functional exercises from there.” The weight of babywearing is the closest thing to having our baby bump, so it’s a slow transition adapting to not having that weight in our belly, which leads to better spine and core stability. In addition, our postpartum recovery should mimic baby’s movements. For example, you never see a baby do a sit-up or a crunch. Many mamas and exercise “gurus” want to get rid of that “pesky belly flab” but they often go about it the wrong way. A thousand crunches a day isn’t going to create the results we want. Most women have a separation of the abdominal muscles called “diastasis recti” and almost all infants are born with the same condition. The difference is that infants don’t start doing crunches right away, they engage in a functional progression from learning how to move their body, rolling onto their side, planking, rocking back a forth and eventually sitting up on their own. This is a slow progression that mamas should follow and babywearing is the first step in this functional progression also helping to prepare our bodies for the rigors of parenthood.

newbornvivBabywearing for Baby’s Brain
Wearing our munchkin is also a way for baby to start to integrate the stress of gravity. There isn’t much gravitational stress when they are in the womb, they are floating in amniotic fluid, after all. So when they enter the world there is a whole new set of pressure on their joints and muscles. The central nervous system which includes the brain and spinal cord are the very first system to develop in utero at just three weeks after conception. The peripheral nervous system which is responsible for our motor and sensory control doesn’t fully develop until several years after birth. Babywearing helps to slowly introduce the stress of gravity while keeping close to their caregiver.

They have so much new stimuli to integrate into their brain and nervous system, they are like sponges and they use mom and dad’s nervous systems to prime theirs. The movements while babywearing help them learn how to move and help prepare their joints and muscles for sitting, crawling, walking and all the developmental steps that they will endure along the way. This is so much more effective than the bouncers or bumbos that provide little to no neurological feedback and actually hinder the proper structural and sensory development of the baby. When baby is strapped into a sitting position, or a bouncer, they are unable to learn how to move and how to balance properly on their own. The unnatural support doesn’t allow for the baby to learn that tipping to the side means they are falling (because they aren’t able to tip over), so their brain never receives that neurological feedback to learn how to stabilize themselves on their own. This can hinder their ability to sit on their own and later in life can lead to balance issues, delayed crawling, etc. I speculate, could this be related to injuries down the line such as toddlers running into things, falling off the monkey bars as kids, clumsy uncoordinated teens, sporting injuries in school, and unbalanced as older adults? If the brain doesn’t receive input of how to move and support itself as an infant it’s much harder to wire the brain to do it later. Babies brains grow approximately 200% in the first two years of life. They start with approximately 100 billion neurons (that’s more stars than there are in the Milky Way) and they continue to build synapses or brain neuron connections rapidly throughout their early development.  Babywearing provides that input to the brain slowly and efficiently over time so that the kiddos can better learn how to use their body and brain in the future.

Babywearing Supports Spinal Developmentstephanie-williams
We’ve already discussed the importance of the developing nervous system of the baby, and the spine is intricately involved. The bony spinal structures are what support and protect the spinal cord and nerves. As a pediatric chiropractor this is extremely important to me because the shape and function of a newborn’s spine is completely different than that of an adult. Babies start with a curled up spine in the shape of a “C” with the inside of the C being their tummy side and the outside of the C being their back side. They don’t develop the neck or lower back curves until they begin to crawl and stand, respectively.  So the ideal position for a newborn is that curled up shape in a carrier or sling. The spinal joints of a newborn are slightly flatter and less angled than adult joints so they are not as stable. This allows for flexibility, but with flexibility also comes vulnerability. Again if we were to put babies in a bouncer or bumbo seat before they are ready it hinders the proper development of their spine and can lead to spinal instability issues later in life including scoliosis, hip dysplasia, joint pain, disc herniations or bulges, etc. For this reason I also recommend that babies be worn facing into the caregiver for as long as possible. I cringe inside when I see babies worn outward facing before they are ready and I cringe even more when I see them in a carrier that does not offer hip support. The legs should never dangle as that puts immense pressure on the genitals and does not support proper development of the hips which can lead to hip dysplasia.

“But if you never put them down they won’t be self sufficient”
This cannot be further from the truth. It’s been studied that babies who have their needs met will grow up to be more independent later in life. Similar to the cry-it-out sleep method, people thought that strollers promoted independence and that holding your baby caused germs and infections to transmit easily so, therefore, babies should be touched as little as possible. We now know that touch is an essential part of life and necessary for survival. That’s why there are people hired just to hold babies who are in the neonatal intensive care unit in hospitals. Babies require touch for survival. It’s an innate awareness of an innate need. Marsupials such as kangaroos and koalas have built-in babywearing devices (aren’t they lucky), and their offspring remain in there until they are stronger and ready to become more self-sufficient. Until then they stay in the pouch and feed on demand until they are ready. When they do leave the pouch they typically start to explore further and further while staying with the pack, and the mother signals them back if they start to stray too far.  Babywearing builds trust and self confidence between the child and parents.

CHR_5956Breastfeeding Benefits
Another important benefit of babywearing is being able to breastfeed as needed. Babies don’t come with set schedules. Just as you and I don’t always eat at exactly the same time everyday, babies don’t do that either. When our little ones are growing their biological needs can change day-to-day, even minute-to-minute. So allowing them to feed as needed is so important for their development and it’s really easy to do while wearing them. Indigenous tribes know this to be true. In the book The Continuum Concept by Jean Liedloff, she observed tribes wearing their babies for most of the day where they would nurse as needed, sometime for only 2-3 minutes at a time. These babies did not have colic and never needed to be burped. They filled their tiny stomach often and just a little bit at a time and never had signs of re-flux or indigestion. I see this in my practice also. The families who babywear and are able to nurse smaller amounts more frequently have babies with little or no digestive issues. Feeding frequently is easy while babywearing and it helps to keep up milk supply. Did you know that the saliva in baby’s mouth is picked up by the mother’s nipple and a feedback mechanism is created to release specific nutrients that the baby needs at that moment? How cool is that! So with their biological needs changing every minute, babywearing is a great way to make sure they are getting the most optimal nourishment.

Again there is an innate awareness of every innate need. By allowing our innate intelligence to guide the way, we see that keeping our kiddos close sets much deeper roots than we ever imagined.



This Guest Blog was written by Dr. Stephanie Williams Libs, DC
www.cafeoflifesandiego.com
Pregnancy and Pediatric Chiropractic Specialist

Stephanie started as a chiropractic patient at age 12.  She suffered low back pain and headaches almost weekly.  It wasn’t until early adulthood, working as an assistant in a chiropractic office, that she observed miracles on a daily basis.  After receiving regular chiropractic care her symptoms subsided.  This inspired Stephanie to pursue her passion by helping people through chiropractic care.  She moved from her native San Diego to the San Francisco Bay Area to begin a post-graduate program at Life Chiropractic College West.

She quickly became involved, serving on several mission trips internationally and locally to provide free chiropractic care to thousands of families in need.  Stephanie’s academic accolades include Student of the Year 2012, Intern of the Quarter, Intern of the Month and Clinical Honors.  A love for Southern California prompted her to return to San Diego where she joined Libs Chiropractic Center in Pacific Beach.  After two years her practice expanded due to the high number of referrals from other patients and she moved into a larger office to open the Cafe of Life San Diego in the heart of Pacific Beach.  Her focus is pediatric, pregnancy and family care, and her philosophy is to honor the intelligence within each of us and to create a greater connection within the body, the community and the world.

Stephanie maintains active membership with the International Chiropractic Pediatric Association and is certified in the Webster Prenatal Technique.  She is heavily involved with the chiropractic community and serves as the treasurer of the California Chiropractic Association San Diego chapter as well as the California Chiropractic Association Journal editorial committee.  The CCA recently awarded her Outstanding New DC of the Year 2014 for California.

 

*Views expressed in this blog are those of our guest blogger and not claims made by Baby Tula
7 Questions to Ask Before Buying a Baby Carrier

 

questions_before_buying1

Whether you’re welcoming your first baby or your tenth, deciding what baby carrier you will be getting may be a tough choice! There is not one perfect choice for everyone and it’s important to find a carrier that fits you and your family’s lifestyle needs! With so many options available to you, we wanted to compile a list of questions to ask yourself when deciding which baby carrier to purchase. Here are our top seven questions to ask.

  1. What is your budget?

Price range is an important factor to consider when comparing baby carriers. There are a variety of carriers to fit every budget. You want to be sure that you are not over-extending your budget; however, be sure to consider the quality of the carrier and the amount of time you’ll be using the carrier. For instance, our standard baby carrier can be used from infancy through toddlerhood, so rather than buying a carrier for each stage, this one carrier will grow with you!

  1. What are the weight limits?

It may be tempting to purchase the baby carrier that has the most likes on Facebook or is having a sale, but make sure you’re purchasing a carrier that will fit you and your baby. Be sure to look at the weight ranges supported by the carrier and if you need any newborn accessories to use the carrier safely. We offer a standard baby carrier and a toddler carrier that can be used at different stages of your child’s life. We also make an infant insert (sold separately) that provides adequate support to your newborn or infant in our standard baby carrier before they have reached the 15-pound minimum.

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  1. Do they have a warranty?

Don’t rush into a final sale purchase just because the price might be lower! Be sure your baby carrier brand will back up their product with a warranty. We offer a limited one-year warranty against manufacturing flaws.

  1. Is it easy to adjust?

Will you have multiple people wearing the carrier? You’ll want to make sure that 1) the carrier will fit each user, and 2) is it easy to adjust for each of the users. If you’re purchasing a soft-structured carrier, take a look at the length of the shoulder straps and the hip belt. The webbing should be long enough to fit all wearers. If you are in the market for a ring sling or woven wrap, make sure the length of fabric will still fit comfortably for each wearer. In addition to fit capabilities, you’ll want to find a carrier that can conveniently and easily adjust between different wearers. Be sure you know the steps necessary to adjust the carrier and if it’ll be suitable for your day-to-day needs.

  1. Are you planning to breastfeed in your carrier?

Breastfeeding while babywearing can serve multiple purposes! It not only allows you to breastfeed on the go, but it also allows you to be hands free. If you are hoping to breastfeed, make sure the carrier you choose has the flexibility and ability to adjust for breastfeeding your little one. Our carriers come with a convenient, removable hood that provides some additional privacy while breastfeeding if you prefer. A longer ring sling ‘tail’ can also provide you with some extra coverage!

  1. What activities will you be using it for?

Do you have an active lifestyle? Other kids to chase after? Are you always on-the-go? These are all questions you’ll want to consider because there are several different carrier types that have their own benefits. We make a line of Coast Carriers that have a breathable mesh panel to keep you and baby cool during hot months or while hiking, long walks, etc. There are also, ring slings, which are one of the fastest to adjust, compact carriers on the market making quick trips to the store much easier!

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  1. Have you tried other carriers?

Do you have experience with other carriers? Not all carriers fit alike! Just because one carrier didn’t work, don’t count out baby carriers all together. You might think you want a certain type of carrier until you try it on. Was your baby not content in the carrier? Did you feel confident putting it on? You might even find that you have a preference for the feel of the different fabric. For instance, we make soft-structured carriers with canvas material; however, there are also Coast mesh carriers and woven wrap conversion carriers. A great way to start your search for a carrier is by finding your local babywearing group or babywearing educator. They can assist you with hands on comparisons and fit.

A baby carrier is bound to be one of your most-used baby gear purchases so it is important to find a product that will work well for your family. We have created a comparison chart that shows the benefits and functionalities of different carrier types to help you narrow down your search! We also have babywearing experts on hand who would be more than happy to help you answer fit or Baby Tula product questions – please do not hesitate to email us at help@babytula.com.

What Size Ring Sling Should I Get?
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WHAT SIZE RING SLING SHOULD I GET?

Our Baby Tula Ring Slings use some of our beautiful woven wraps, designed and woven specifically for Baby Tula. Using this strong woven material, that quickly softens and glides, makes our ring slings a wonderful option to use with your baby from birth on. They are also a compact, quick on-the-go babywearing option: compactly folds, easy to bring along in your bag and slips on and off. We offer our ring slings in a variety of stylish designs and fabric blends to help you keep your hands free while keeping you and baby comfortable!

Thinking of getting your first ring sling? The first step is choosing your ring sling design, but then you may be wondering what size should you get?

Our ring slings come in S/M and L/XL. S/M is around 77″ and L/XL is around 87″ unwashed (slight variation is intentional as we cut to allow for up to 20% shrinkage with our Tencel® blend).

One way to choose what size to get is to use your shirt size and get the size that coordinates with that. However, you’ll also want to consider the ‘tail’ and how long of a tail you prefer! The tail is the excess fabric that hangs down once you have the ring sling adjusted for you and baby. The S/M will leave a shorter tail than the L/XL. The tail does not impact the safety or ability to carry, but is more of a stylistic preference.

Below we have included some images of various mothers wearing different sized ring slings. We hope this helps clarify the different sizes. Remember: the fit of Baby Tula Ring Slings is very versatile, and both sizes will fit most wearers.

S/M RING SLINGS


Wearing a Tencel blend ring sling with an approximate 18 month old


Wearing cotton ring sling with an approximate 12 month old


Wearing a cotton ring sling with an approximate 18 month old

L/XL RING SLINGS


Wearing a Tencel blend ring sling with an approximate 9 month old


Wearing a Tencel blend ring sling with a newborn


Wearing a cotton ring sling with an approximate 12 month old