Babywearing seems to fit the natural, loving parenting style, so it was a bit of surprise to hear that a lot of Pinoys choose not to babywear. Unfortunately, it's for all the wrong reasons. Wearing your baby may not be for all parents or babies, but there is definitely nothing wrong with it.
Blanche Pennings, a babywearing consultant who is certified by the Babywearing School of U.K. through one of their special sessions in Singapore, told SmartParenting.com.ph via email, "Next to breastfeeding, babywearing is one of the healthiest things you can do for your child. Filipinos are very superstitious people and believe old wive’s tales that don’t have any medical basis."
We help you get your facts straight about wearing your baby:
Myth #1: Your baby will be spoiled if you carry him all the time. "Babies will not cry for no reason at all. When a baby is born, everything is new and scary for them," the mom of one (and soon-to-be two) said. "Attachment parenting teaches us that we should carry our babies, we should soothe them and comfort them. Babywearing allows us to do this."
Dr. Beatriz Padua-Bautista adds that a mother's familiar scent, heartbeat, and touch serve as a buffer for the baby whenever there is an abrupt change of situation or pace. "You’ll be stimulating your baby’s senses by taking him along as you fold clothes or tidy up the living room, so keeping him close reassures him and makes him feel secure," she said.
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Myth #2: Your baby will always be dependent on you. Attachment parenting, which includes carrying and wearing your baby, has been proven to help babies learn independence. It "helps create more self-assured, confident children as eye contact with mommy help breed confidence!" Pennings explained. A toddler who already knows how to walk sometimes might ask to be carried because he needs comfort.
Myth #3: Your baby will be bow-legged. "Keeping the baby’s legs spread apart" is not a cause for a child's feet and legs to be "sakang" or bow-legged. "It is actually the healthiest position for their hips," Pennings explained. "Baby carrier designs also changed from being the 'singit slings' that they used to be to supporting the baby’s legs from knee-to-knee," she said, adding that car seats have also adopted the change.
According to a SmartParenting.com.pharticle "From Piki to Sakang, 5 Weird Toddler Walks and When You Need to Worry," one of the reasons for bow-leggedness is the infant’s position inside the womb but can correct itself by the time the child turns 3.
Myth #4: Babywearing can cause hip problems. Hip dysplasia is a condition where a hip socket doesn't fully cover the ball portion of the upper thighbone, according to Mayo Clinic. It can cause one leg to be longer than the other. Babywearing, when done correctly, actually helps prevent the condition. "When proper hip position is maintained while babywearing, there may be substantial benefit for natural hip development," according to the International Hip Dysplasia Institute's website.
Myth #5: Your baby will be "makukuba." It's another misconception that has no medical basis, but it is probably due to seeing some parents misuse carriers and slings. Babywearing is actually a great way of strengthening the core as it's an excellent substitute for tummy time, Pennings suggests.
The babywearing advocate and consultant, who also runs the Facebook group and page Babywear Becuase You Care PH, coined the term "C.A.R.R.I.E.R.S." to help parents check if they're wearing their babies correctly.
Check your carrier for any defects.
Airway must always be open.
Raise your baby to chin height.
Recognize baby's cues.
The face is In view at all times.
Ensure that the environment is conducive for babywearing. Read the manufacturer's instructions and always follow them.
Support your baby at all times.
Myth #6: The best baby carrier or sling is the expensive one. No one brand is the best. "Comfort is subjective, and I would advise all moms who plan to babywear to do a fit check and see which kind of carrier or sling is the most comfortable and suitable for your needs," Pennings said. Breathability is also an important consideration because of our country's hot and humid weather.
Another vital consideration, Pennings said, is the weight of your child, and his or her developmental milestones or readiness to be used in certain types of carriers. Some carriers or slings are best for babies, and some kinds are suited for older tots. If you tried one carrier that made your baby fuss, it doesn't automatically mean he doesn't like to be worn. You just need to find a carrier or sling that suits you both.
Myth #7: Babywearing hurts your backs and shoulders. "Babywearing is great for moms because not only does it help you be more productive by letting you be hands-free, it also aids in bringing back our pre-pregnancy bodies," Pennings revealed. "Strain [on the spine] continues after childbirth with constant bending to pick up the child, leaning over for diaper changes, etc. Babywearing helps us strengthen our spines and speeds up the process of bringing our spines back to its original form," she added.
In a personal Facebook post, Pennings shared babywearing saved her from postpartum depression and had also helped make her son Theo a well-behaved, happy baby boy. "It makes more emotionally stable children and adults. This has been tested and proven," she stressed.
If you have any worries about babywearing, consult your doctor. Blanche Pennings also hold private and group consultations for parents who want to make sure they are wearing their babies correctly and safety. Follow Babywear Because You Care PH on Facebook.