Proper positioning in your Didymos carrier is the key to safe and comfortable babywearing! Depending on your baby’s stage of development, there may be different rules of thumb to follow. You will hear or read phrases such as “knee to knee”, “M” seat, “C or J” back, “high & tight”, “close enough to kiss” and “chin off chest” as well as many more! It almost sounds like a checklist to memorize and it really is. However, don’t worry – it is not complicated! As you will read below, it all makes sense and will be your natural instinct to follow!
If you have not already read our safety articles, please read first! Safety and proper positioning go hand in hand!
Babywearing should mimic holding your baby upright in your arms.
Let’s get started with Newborn positioning!
As an educator, I like to ask new wearers to pick up their baby and observe baby’s natural position both while being lifted and once settled upright in their arms. Note baby’s natural spine, knee and hip position. Baby has been in it’s mother’s womb for almost ten months curled up in a fetal position (also known as a fetal tuck). The natural curveature of the spine is shaped as a “C” and knees and hips have been flexed. This position reduces pressure on the spine and hips as well as being the optimal position for the spine and hips to develop. Once baby is born, it will take months for baby’s natural position to uncurl and change while the spine develops secondary curves and the muscles begin to grow and strengthen. Therefore, follow your newborn’s cues and know this is the most natural, ergonomic and comfortable position for your baby to be in! **Please note that the reference to the “C” curve is for baby’s back. This does not include the head which should NEVER be tucked towards the chin. Chin should always be up and NOT tucked downwards. Baby’s airway is like a straw and if the chin is tucked downards, it compromised their airway. This applies to holding baby, wearing baby and when baby is in a carrier or other baby equipment. Please refer to our blog article on safety for more information!
A newborn’s natural physiological instinct is the fetal tuck. At this age, their leg spread is as wide as their pelvis, legs are flexed with knees higher than bum. Spine is curled gently in a C shape. As babies grow and develop, their hips will naturally open and you will see more of the typical spread squat position also known as the “M” position where the knees are higher than the bum and spread outwards. The “M” position is still described as the seat position with a newborn but the “spread” is much tighter than with an older baby. All babies are different, therefore natural positions for each baby do vary slightly. Do not force or hyper extend baby’s knees and hips. Remember to follow your baby’s cues by observing their natural position.
Some people prefer to wear their newborns with their feet inside the carrier. There is much debate about whether to babywear with baby’s legs in or legs out. We recommend that as long as you are carrying your baby safely (please see our section on safety), then follow your baby’s cues. Some babies tend to relax more with their legs curled up in a froggy position or tucked high and tight inside the fabric. No weight should bear down on the baby’s feet. Baby’s “seat” and therefore weight should be in the bum. If baby has no preference, then practice with both options and go with what feels more natural and comfortable for you at this stage. If legs are out, the seat of the carrier should support the legs by spreading from knee to knee on baby.
The recommended and most ideal newborn position in any of the Didymos carriers is upright, tummy to tummy (or baby’s tummy to wearer’s chest if baby is very small). Whether baby is in a carrier or arms, the upright tummy to tummy position for baby has an enormous amount of benefits. It is a natural and calming position that helps regulate baby’s body temperature and heart rate, lowers anxiety and crying, aids in digestion and the wearer is able to follow baby’s cues and respond to baby’s needs immediately. Furthermore, as baby develops and grows, they are able to see the world at the wearers level and observe and be a part of the wearer’s verbal and physical interactions which aids in baby’s cognitive development as baby. Upright carrying ultimately optimizes the physical, emotional and intellectual growth of your baby.
With any carrier, it is important that a baby without any neck or head control is supported throughout the back, neck and head. Therefore, the carrier should go up to the base of baby’s neck with baby’s head resting on the wearer’s chest and high enough for the wearer to be able to kiss the top of baby’s head. Baby’s face should always be visible and airways are open. Therefore, chin off of the chest, baby’s cheek to the wearer’s chest and nothing covering baby’s face.
The carrier should support baby’s natural “C” shaped spine without forcing it into any unnatural position such as being too tight and structured and therefore forcing baby’s spine straight or by being too loose and causing baby to slump. (The “C” shape is also referred to many as the “J” shape especially once baby is a few weeks old and less inclined to curl into a deeper curve. )Didymos woven wraps, jersey wraps, meh-dais, didyslings and the new didymos buckle carriers, all allow for baby’s natural positioning by being purposefully woven to conform and mould to both the baby’s and the wearer’s natural body shape and size with proper tightening and adjusting. Baby should always be high and tight. If you move position or bend over, baby should not slump or fall to the side nor should any gaps in the fabric be present. This would mean that baby is not safely in the carrier and the carrier needs to be tightened and adjusted. Keeping baby high, tight and close will also ensure a comfortable wearing experience for the wearer as the wearer’s centre of gravity will be more balanced and the weight of the baby will be evenly distributed on the wearer. If the carrier is not snug and adjusted properly, the wearer could experience strain and pressure points.
As your baby grows and develops, their legs will uncurl and stretch out more. You will begin to notice that their natural spread is less tight and they may even begin to straddle you in more of a typical spread squat position when they are carried in arms or in a carrier. All babies will be different so follow your baby’s natural cues.
As baby gets older they become stronger and may even have full head and neck control at this stage. At this point, baby may prefer arms out in a carry or to transition to a carry on the hip or back. Baby’s body should be supported by a high and tight carry in the ergonomic “M” spread squat position with the carrier fabric spreading from knee to knee on the baby. It is still very important to follow all the safety guidelines and have the carrier properly tightened and adjusted to support baby’s developing body.
Toddler and Older Child Wearing
As baby begins to become mobile and eventually walk, their bone and muscle tone becomes stronger. The carrier seat that spreads knee to knee and the “M” spread squat position is still the most optimal and ergonomic position for the baby or child to be in. However, it becomes less of a priority. The question now is does your carrier still fit your baby or child and is it still comfortable for you both? Woven wraps are the most versatile baby carrier and conform to all shapes, sizes and ages. Therefore if a certain carry is not comfortable any longer, it may be time to try another carry. There are many tips and tricks you can do to make a carry more comfortable for a heavier or larger child. If you have any questions, ask our wrap expert and she can trouble shoot the problem with you!
The DidySling is tested to a weight limit of 35lbs and the Didymos Mei Tai (Didytai) up until 18-24months of age but can go a bit beyond this age if your child is smaller and still fits into the body panel. Therefore, if your little one has not reached this weight limit yet or has outgrown the carrier but you are finding the carrier uncomfortable or not fitting your child you may want to try a woven wrap. If the sling is straining your shoulder, try changing shoulders frequently so one shoulder is not always bearing the weight. If you are using a Didytai and are noticing the body panel is no longer fitting right, it may be that the child has outgrown the carrier. The didytai can fit up to 18-24 months of age and beyond but on average, it tends to get a bit small at around the 2 year mark. That being said, smaller children have been known to fit into the carrier past the age of three!
Many people believe that wearing must stop once baby has learned to walk. This is a myth! While it is true that some babies will show reluctance once they discover walking, most babies will still want to be worn again. Sometimes it will be just when they are tired or ill or wanting some quiet time and sometimes it will be in cycles where they will not want to be worn for a period of time and then will go right back to it as if they never had wanted to stop being worn! Follow your child’s cues and needs.
Wearing a larger or heavier child can be a challenge to get just right due to the weight and awkwardness of growing limbs, but it can also be the most rewarding. The bonding and communication are special times for both the wearer and the child. For Big Kid wearing, watch out for our Big Kid Tips and Tricks article coming soon!
For more information on spinal development in babies and positioning, please see this article by Mirjam Brockmann, Basics of Baby’s Anatomy.
Line Images by babydoousa.