CHOOSING A BABY CARRIER
What should I look for when buying a baby carrier?
Very simple: make sure your baby is just as comfortable as in your arms. If you carry your baby in your arms, no one wonders whether your baby is comfortable. Make sure the baby carrier gives exactly the same comfort!
With any type of baby carrier, ensure that it offers the right support:
- The fabric should be spread open all the way from knee to knee. This ensures your baby is sitting in the ergonomic M-position.
- Baby’s back should be rounded rather than arched – this is the most natural position.
- Baby should be high enough and close enough to kiss, ‘kissing distance.’
- The baby carrier should be comfortable, not too loose or too tight.
And when selecting a sling, also look for:
- Easy adjustment, comfortable fit for all sizes.
- No clasps, buckles or closures which might hurt.
- Quick and easy to put on.
- Option of carrying your baby in various positions.
- Baby’s weight distributed evenly over the parent’s chest, back and hips.
- Soft and preferably organic fabric.
Are all baby wraps the same?
No, there are different types of baby wraps from different brands. The baby wraps can be roughly divided into wraps and pre-shaped wraps:
Wraps (to tie) include:
- jersey wraps (often available in just 1 size)
- woven wraps (available in several different lengths)
Pre-shaped wraps include:
- ring slings (padded or unpadded)
- mei tais (Asian-style baby carriers)
- pouches (single or double)
Which baby wrap is most suitable for carrying newborn babies?
All Babylonia baby wraps are suitable for use from birth. Which wrap is best for you depends on your preferences:
- Do you have experience in babywearing?
- Do you also want to carry an older brother or sister or just the newborn baby?
- How long do you want to carry your child?
- Are you planning to buy another baby wrap or do you want a wrap that will work for all ages?
- Is your partner going to use the same baby wrap? Are you a different size than your partner?
- Are you going to use it in the summer or winter?
In general, we recommend starting with the Tricot Slen. It is a good beginner wrap because the Tricot Slen is soft and it will always fit both you and your partner. You can tie on the wrap and then put your baby in it so you have both hands free to pick up your child.
What is the difference between a baby wrap and a structured carrier?
A baby wrap is a baby carrier made of unique wrap fabric that is wrapped around you and your baby.
A structured carrier is a pre-formed baby carrier made of stiffer material in which you carry your child.
In the classic non-ergonomic baby carrier, a baby is carried with their legs through two leg openings in the “pocket” while sitting on a small support. Because the baby is not close to you but hangs on your body, they actually carry their own weight. In addition, the natural curvature of the spine in a structured carrier is lost because the baby is not supported in the right way. In contrast, in a baby wrap the baby is sitting comfortably against you. Baby is perfectly supported and the weight of your baby is distributed evenly over your own body.
In an ergonomic baby carrier, the baby is sitting on a wider support so the ergonomic M-position of the child is maintained. A disadvantage of both ergonomic and non-ergonomic structured carriers is that the straps need to be adjusted to the size of the wearer. For some, the baby carrier will be too small, while for others it’s impossible to get tight enough. A wrap however, always fits and is comfortable for everyone (regardless of your size). You can spread the fabric wide over your shoulders and back (depending on what you prefer) and there are no buckles, pre-formed straps or fasteners that may hurt. Babylonia wraps are very soft and made from 100% organic cotton. The special wrap fabric is knitted or woven to give the perfect support. A pre-shaped baby carrier doesn’t adjust as well to the shape of your body with its contoured shoulder straps, buckles and fasteners. Shoulder straps may slip down, pressing into your neck or be too loose and buckles or closures can cause pressure points.
What’s the best material for a baby wrap?
The best choice is a wrap made from natural materials such as organic cotton. The fabric should be nice and soft for both baby and wearer, provide enough support and be breathable. Note that there are no seams, buckles or pockets on the wrap that can be irritating. The Tricot-Slen and Tri-Cotti also have the GOTS label.
How does the stretch of the fabric affect babywearing?
The less the fabric stretches lengthwise, the better! Fabric that stretches in width is very comfortable, but if the fabric also stretches lengthwise it will cause the baby to hang too low.
If the fabric is made from Spandex, it will also cause the baby to bounce up and down. This is not only very annoying for the baby but also for the wearer because this way the weight feels much heavier.
A baby wrap which stretches in all directions must be put on extremely tight in order to avoid your baby from sitting too low. This might make the baby feel constricted.
The Tricot Slen is a baby wrap with light stretch which makes it very comfortable and easy to use.
Are baby carriers expensive? Isn’t it just a piece of fabric?
In order to carry your baby safely and comfortably, the fabric should offer proper support. Fabrics used specifically for baby wearing are knitted or woven in a special way in order to always give the best support.
In our opinion, if you think a knitted Tricot Slen is too expensive, you can use a standard piece of fabric. But in normal woven fabrics you will notice the absence of the special diagonal stretch as the fabric uncomfortably “rubs” baby’s legs and your shoulders. It will also be difficult to tie the fabric beautifully and pull it tight properly. Therefore, it provides less support and makes your baby feel heavier.
If you buy a piece of jersey knit fabric you should be even more careful. Ensure that the fabric does not stretch too much. The special knitting technique of the Tricot Slen has been continuously optimized over the years and is very different from loose-knit fabric that is commercially available.
If you also consider the amount of fabric needed to make a wrap, generally 5 yards, the price difference will probably not be that much.
What age can I start carrying my baby?
The benefits of carrying premature babies – or kangaroo care – is well documented. A baby (full term or premature) can be placed in any Babylonia baby carrier just after birth, creating a ‘womb with a view’.
There are no problems starting later as well. Your back will strengthen as you carry your baby and their weight gain will go mostly unnoticed.
Until what age can I carry my child?
A baby can be carried as long as he or she wants. Even an older child will find a safe refuge in a baby carrier when tired with the stimulations of the outside world. The Tri-Cotti and Tricot Slen hold toddlers up to 33 lbs.
How long can I safely carry my baby per day?
There are no limits. A baby who is well positioned in a sling can be carried as long as the baby and the wearer desire. Remember that babies around the world are carried throughout the entire day as the wearer continues with daily tasks and activities.
Do pay attention that your baby is carried in the correct position and that both shoulder straps are spread wide open over your back and shoulders. If your child is in the ergonomic M-Position, with their knees higher that their bottom and their back nicely rounded, a healthy development of the hips is ensured. Do not carry the baby too low. Keep your baby within kissing distance; you should be able to kiss the baby’s head easily without bending over.
Can I carry my baby facing forward?
Carrying your baby facing forward is possible with carriers and is done by many parents, but it is not an ergonomically sound posture. It is tiring and stressful for your child because your child is not in the recommended M-position. Moreover, when your baby is facing forward, they cannot turn away and fall asleep when they are tired or overstimulated.
For you as a parent, this inverted position is heavier. If you think ‘my child is curious and wants to see everything’ then wear baby on your hip. From your hip, baby can see everything but can also close their eyes and turn towards you when tired or overstimulated. When carried on the hip, your baby can see and feel you, which comforts them if they are startled.
Will my baby be able to breathe tucked into a carrier?
Tucked snuggly into the carrier, your baby is still able to move. If baby is uncomfortable in any way, they can turn their head or wiggle their body in protest. Either they will shift and rectify the situation, or you can help adjust them to a more comfortable position. Held close to you, your baby will synchronize their breathing to your heartbeat and the rise and fall of your chest, which stabilizes their respiration.
Always make sure that baby’s chin is not tucked into their chest and that fabric is not covering baby’s face and that baby’s face is not pushed into the wearer’s body.
How should I dress my child when using a wrap?
Please note that the wrap is also a garment and you pick up each other’s body heat. So dress yourself and your baby with one less layer than normal.
Generally we recommend:
- < 23 degrees Fahrenheit (< 5 Celsius): normal clothes + jacket, scarf and hat + carry your baby for the most part under your coat
- 23-50 degrees Fahrenheit (5-10 Celsius): normal clothes + jacket, scarf and hat
- 50-60 degrees Fahrenheit (10-15 Celsius): normal clothes + thin jacket or cardigan
- 60-70 degrees Fahrenheit (15-20 Celsius): normal clothes
- 70-80 degrees Fahrenheit (20-25 Celsius): light weight clothes
- 80-85 degrees Fahrenheit (25-30 Celsius): just a onesie
- > 85 degrees Fahrenheit (30 Celsius): better to not use a baby wrap
The number of layers also depends on how many layers of fabric are being wrapped around your child by the sling.
Will my baby be too hot or too cold in a carrier?
Newborn babies are not capable of regulating their body temperature. The adult’s body will stabilize the baby’s body temperature when holding them close. Dress yourself and your baby accordingly and pay attention to the temperature of your baby (you may be warm whereas your baby may be cold). Remember that your body heat will be considered one layer and the sling itself is a second. In cold weather, your coat covering both of you is a third layer. Make sure that your baby (head, hands, feet) is well protected from the sun and/or the cold.
Do I need to put my jacket over or under my baby wrap?
If you go outside you can carry your baby over or under your jacket, depending on the temperature. This also depends on the choice of clothing your baby is wearing. A hat and gloves in cold weather might be needed anyway.
Can I use the baby wrap in wintertime?
Cold weather is a great time to use the wrap – your baby will be much cozier and warmer than in a stroller. Make sure your baby is wearing a hat and protect their feet and hands especially if they are exposed.
Is to too hot to carry my baby in the summer?
On a very hot summer day, a cotton baby wrap may be too hot. Dress your baby on hot days in less clothes. Older children can be worn with their arms out of the wrap.
Can I carry my child while they are wearing shorts or have bare legs?
If it is warm outdoors or indoors, it can be nice to carry your baby with bare legs. The fabric of the Babylonia baby wraps is soft and will not irritate baby’s skin.
What are the Benefits of Babywearing?
Babywearing has a positive effect on your baby’s physical, intellectual and emotional development and also makes your life as a parent easier!
When you wear your baby in a Babylonia baby carrier, they experience the world from a safe position. There are many stimuli they have to process in a short period of time, but as they are being carried closely, this does not frighten them. This feeling of security leads to the development of a positive self-image and builds the foundations of a confident and self-assured personality later in life. In a baby wrap, your baby is not forced to spend the day passively. In contrast, they can participate in your day-to-day activities in a natural way. This way your baby hears and sees many things, which stimulates their psychosocial development. From this safe place, they get the chance to communicate at eye level with the people and the world around him. If your baby has had enough, they can simply close their eyes and fall asleep against your chest.
Their physical development is also stimulated in various ways. Movements and contact influence a positive development of fine and gross motor skills. Your child is safely nestled in their baby wrap while they have the chance to feel, caress, grab and squeeze. Carrying your baby in the ergonomic M-position also stimulates the development of their muscles and joints. In many baby carriers your baby is not sitting in this ergonomic position; only with a baby wrap can you give your child the right support. Read more about the differences between a structured carrier and a baby wrap and discover the benefits of Babylonia’s baby wraps.
Baby carrying is also a lot of fun for dads! When you carry your baby, you get to know your child very well and develop a close bond with them.
Does a baby wrap help reflux?
Carrying your baby in the upright position eases digestion, improves circulation and aids in relaxation, thereby reducing reflux and colic muscles. You will notice that reflux that might be ‘stress related’ is greatly reduced if you regularly wear your baby. Research has shown that babies who are carried, cry less and suffer less from cramps and reflux than babies who are not carried.
Will my baby like being in a carrier?
Babies crave close human contact. Once they are used to being carried, you will instinctively reach for your carrier whenever your baby is restless, can’t fall asleep or just needs a reassuring presence.
Some babies need a little time to warm up to a new position in the carrier, especially on your back.
Sometimes babies are unhappy in a carrier because they feel insecure. This is often the result of not adjusting the carrier tightly enough. Follow the instructions carefully to make sure you wear your baby high and tight.
We recommend trying a new position when your baby is relaxed, just after eating or when ready to fall asleep. Walk around after placing your baby in the carrier for the first time or when trying a new position. This will distract them while they get used to a new way of being carried.
Most importantly, TRUST YOUR BABY. If your baby is uncomfortable, too tight, too hot, etc, they will let you know. If baby is asleep or happily observing the world, they are just fine. Carrying your baby close means you can often instinctively read their body language well before they start to cry or tell you something is wrong.
Will I spoil my baby and make them dependent on me?
Imagine the scenario that you are thirsty. Sometimes you are given a glass of water and sometimes you are not. Your thirst is not quenched. You are forced to wait until the next time someone else decides you can have a glass of water. You become increasingly nervous and frustrated. You begin to constantly ask for water, even when you are not thirsty, because you are not sure that when you will be thirsty, you will be given any water. You become insecure when you do not have water available. You are so preoccupied with having enough water that you are unable to think about anything else.
Now imagine the opposite scenario. You are thirsty. You are immediately given water, however much you need to quench your thirst. You are satisfied and can go on about whatever you were doing without worrying. You are reassured because the water is in abundant supply and you can have it whenever you need it. You feel secure in this knowledge and the physical presence of the water is not always necessary. You are worry-free and can put your energy into other activities.
Now imagine these two scenarios with your baby and their need for close physical contact and reassurance. You decide.
Free of harmful levels of toxic residue because it’s GOTS certified.
Cotton and even clothing made from certified organic cotton can retain the residue of the toxic chemicals used in the conventional manufacturing process. A 2013 study by Greenpeace found NPEs, phthalates, organotins, per/poly-fluorinated chemicals and antimony in excessive levels in clothes for infants and children.
The Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) replaces the conventional method of manufacturing that can douse the fabric in a chemical bath at each step of the way.
Specifically, GOTS prohibits the following typically-used chemicals. Below we explain exactly why it matters for your baby.
- chlorine bleach
- aromatic solvents
- chlorinated benzenes
- endocrine disruptors
- functional nano-particles
- chlorination of wools
- chlorinated plastics (i.e. PVC)
- quaternary ammonium compounds
- aromatic and halogenated solvents
- brominated and chlorinated flame retardants
- complexing agents and surfactants (i.e. NPEs)
- plasticizers (i.e. PAH, phthalates, Bisphenol A)
- per- and polyfluorinated compounds (i.e. PFOA)
- synthetic inputs for anti-microbial finishing or coating (including biocides)
- heavy metals: antimony, arsenic, barium, cadmium, cobalt, copper, chromium, iron, lead, manganese, nickel, mercury, selenium, silver, zinc, tin
- azo colorants
- and substances that are classified as having hazard statements such as Suspected of Causing Cancer, May Cause Genetic Defects, Fatal if Inhaled, Toxic to Flora, Fauna, Aquatic Life or May Cause Long-Term Adverse Effects in the Environment and many others.
Further, buckles, buttons and press-studs, edgings, elastic bands and yarns, embroidery yarns, fasteners and closing systems, inlays, interface, labels, interlinings, pockets, seam bindings, sewing threads, shoulder pads, zips cannot contain asbestos, carbon fibers, silver fibers, chrome, nickel, material from threatened animals, plant or timber or chlorinated plastics such as PVC.
Why GOTS Matters
“Children have a higher skin surface area to body weight ratio than adults, and experience more intensive contact with home surroundings, so increased dermal absorption of chemicals may occur. The skin of children is also more permeable than adult skin. In newborns, keratinisation (thickening and toughening of the skin) does not occur until 3–5 days after birth, and is more delayed in premature infants (Bearer, 1995). Studies have shown enhanced absorption of toxins including various dyes, drugs and disinfectants through the skin of newborns (Eichenfield & Hardaway, 1999).” Dorey, Catherine N. (2003), Chemical Legacy: Contamination of the Child, Greenpeace UK, October 2003, ISBN 1-903907-06-3.
Chronic exposure to very low amounts of toxic chemicals can derail normal development and reduce IQ. Newborn children to age 3 are the most vulnerable because they are literally being built during this time.
A Most Rigorous Standard
GOTS certifies the manufacturing process where toxic chemicals are used and get passed on to your child.
- GOTS applies its manufacturing standards to only those fabrics that have been certified organic by a recognized farming standard (e.g. USDA’s NOP). This promotes organic and biodynamic farming and avoids GMOs, toxic pesticides and fertilizers.
- Final products consisting of 95-100% certified organic materials are Grade 1 and list the word ‘organic’ underneath the GOTS logo on the label.
- Final products consisting of at least 70% certified organic materials are Grade 2 and list the words ‘made with [X]% organic materials’ underneath the GOTS logo on the label.
- Regardless of the Grade, every product must meet rigorous standards for every step of the manufacturing process: pre-treatment, dyeing, printing and finishing. It prohibits the long list of chemicals shown above so that they don’t show up in the final product.
Watch the video below to learn more and for the entire standard see the GOTS Manual.
Washing: Wash in warm water (86 degrees) with a mild detergent on a gentle cycle. Do NOT dry clean. Do NOT bleach. All instructions can be found in the instruction manual.
Drying: Tumble dry is ok, but the wrap may shrink a little because it is made of cotton. If you air dry, spread the wrap over a few chairs to distribute the weight.
You may find wearing instructions here: Tri-Cotti Instruction Manual
Positioning Your Baby Well
In the upright position: It is very important that your child is in the recommended M-position. At all ages the baby carrier should support your child from knee to knee and the knees should be higher than the hips.
In the cradle position: If you wear your newborn baby in the cradle position make sure the baby carrier supports your baby well, just like carrying your baby in your arms. Also ensure that their chin is not resting on their chest and no fabric covers the face.
In general: Make sure you always carry your baby high enough. You should be able to give your baby a kiss on their head without bending over too much (kissing distance).
It is also important that the baby carrier feels comfortable and fits nicely, that you can spread open the shoulder straps over both shoulders and your entire back, and that the baby carrier feels tight enough.
Most important, trust your baby! If your baby is uncomfortable, too hot or the wrap is too tight, they will let you know. If baby is sleeping or quietly looking into the world, everything is fine. With your baby close against you, you will learn to understand their body language and anticipate before they start to cry or alert you that something is wrong.
A Note About Ergonomics
The basis of good posture begins with the pelvis. If this is well supported, the baby’s spine and neck will fall into a natural curve and the pelvis will support the weight. To ensure the correct position, baby’s knees should be higher than their bum, in a fetal position, with hips and legs properly supported. The baby’s back should be rounded with head resting on your body. This is the ideal position for the development of healthy hip joints. The baby does not hang or rest their weight on their coccyx, but comfortably rests against the wearer.
If the baby is in an upright position, it is recommended that the legs do not dangle or hang in mid-air. This puts strain on the baby’s spine and the baby will tend to arch backwards creating a bad position for their neck too.
The fetal tuck is the most natural position for a young baby. Not only is this position good for correct spinal and hip development, it allows baby to rest and use energy to develop other strengths.
Support the Pelvis for Proper Neck and Head Alignment
If your baby’s pelvis is supported correctly as explained above, then their neck will follow a natural curve and their head will rest on your chest. Baby is free to lift their head when curious to look around and the neck muscles will strengthen quickly. There is no need for a head support, unless you are bending over or baby is sleeping.
You Can Carry Your Baby All Day!
A baby well positioned in a wrap can be carried as long as baby and the wearer desire. Remember that babies around the world are carried throughout the entire day as the wearer continues about his or her daily tasks and activities.
And Breastfeed in it Too!
Breastfeeding in a wrap is discreet and easy. Do take your time for feeding, sit down and loosen the wrap so your baby can latch to your breast. Make sure your child is in the right position to be able to drink (not too high and not with their chin on their chest). Also make sure that your baby can breathe freely and that the carrier does not cover the face. Once you are done feeding your baby, make sure to position him or her back into an upright position and re-tighten your carrier.
If breastfeeding is proving difficult or milk flow is slow, wearing your baby can help. The close proximity of your baby stimulates the release of prolactin, the hormone that regulates milk production. With your baby so close, you are also able to pick up on early hunger cues, such as rooting, sucking and tongue movement, before baby becomes upset, making feeding easier for both you of you.
Safe for Your Back
If you have back problems, you should always consult with your doctor before using any baby carrier. However, using a sling or wrap is probably one of the best ways to prevent back strain because the fabric carries the weight and not your arms and back as when you are simply holding your baby in your arms. Carry your baby each day and progressively extend the carrying time to allow your back muscles a chance to strengthen along with the baby’s weight gain.
For the most optimal weight distribution, tie on the wrap as evenly as possible. Make sure the straps aren’t twisted, spread open the fabric wide over your shoulders, make sure the fabric is not resting on your neck and that the fabric crosses in the middle of your back.
A son was born and his mother was inspired.
After giving birth to her son, Ingrid Guikers bought a baby carrier for practical reasons. However, she soon realized there were far greater benefits to baby wearing and became captivated by them. She wanted to share her passion with other parents and make baby wearing more easy, more available and above-all, ergonomically sound.
She began to give lectures, sharing the knowledge she gained, and soon was inspired to design her own ergonomically-sound baby carrier, the Tricot Slen. Not long after, she and her husband, Chris De Bruyn, created Babylonia and for over 16 years, they have been a leader in the European baby carrier market.
Babylonia’s knitted wraps, the Tri-Cotti and Tricot Slen, are manufactured in the Netherlands and the woven wraps are made in a Fair Trade project in India. Babylonia still works with the two workshops in India with whom the initial production started. About 60 women and 20 men work daily on Babylonia’s baby wraps, security blankets, dress up dolls, cuddly toys and hammocks.
All of Babylonia’s wraps are made from 100% organic cotton and the two carriers sold by SafBaby are GOTS certified: the Tri-Cotti and the Tricot Slen Organic. The special knitting and weaving techniques that Babylonia utilizes have been perfected over the last 16+ years to provide maximum comfort for both you and your child.
You care about the environment and so does Babylonia.
That’s why two of their carriers are GOTS certified.
GOTS ensures that strict Environmental Criteria are met throughout the entire production chain – from seed to consumer. Thus, you can be sure that when you purchase a product from Babylonia, you positively impact the environment in the following ways:
- Certified Organic. The cotton (or other raw material such as wool, silk or linen) is certified organic or biodynamic by a recognized farming standard (e.g. USDA’s NOP). Between 100% and 70% of the material will always be certified organic.
- No Hazardous Pesticides or Fertilizers. Organic/Biodynamic farming methods use far less to no toxic pesticides and fertilizers so they don’t end up in the soil, groundwater and waterways.
- Soil Fertility is Promoted. Instead of being grown as a monocrop, organic and biodynamic farming practices use crop rotation which maintains the health of the soil and promotes biodiversity.
- No GMOs. Raw materials, like cotton, are not grown from genetically modified seed and substances used in the clothing manufacturing process are not derived from genetically modified substances.
- No Toxic Levels of Chemicals. Toxic levels of chemicals are not used in the manufacturing of the clothing.
- Saves Water and Energy. Far less of these valuable resources are used to produce the clothing.
- Reduces Greenhouse Gases. 94% less greenhouse gases are produced by choosing organic over conventional farming.
- Groundwater, Waterways and Soil are Protected. Wastewater from the manufacturing process is treated, eliminating or greatly reducing the pollution that enters the groundwater and soil.
- Packaging is Environmentally Sound. PVC, one of the most toxic substances on earth, is prohibited. Paper or cardboard is either recycled from pre- or post-consumer recycled materials or certified to sustainable forestry management standards, such as the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC).
Conventional methods of clothing manufacturing greatly disempower the factory workers that make our clothes. Slave labor, child labor, hazardous and unsanitary conditions, excessive work hours and low wages are sadly, not uncommon.
When a product is GOTS-certified, you can be assured that it was manufactured in accordance with certain Social Criteria that respect and protect workers. Specifically:
- Labor is not forced or bonded
- Workers have the right to join or form trade unions and bargain collectively
- Working conditions are safe and hygienic (must teach fire prevention and practice evacuation drills)
- No child labor
- Workers are paid a living wage, deductions from wages for disciplinary measures is prohibited
- Working hours cannot be excessive
- Discrimination is prohibited
- Employment must be regular
- Harsh or inhumane treatment is prohibited