|Posted on November 2, 2012 at 12:30 AM|
Babywearing - Whatexactly is safe?
Since the re-discovery of babywearing, there has been a lot of discussion about what is considered safe andwhat isn't. You can ask ten different people and get ten differentanswers. So what exactly is safe?
And why does the Babywearing Instituteteach only safest humanly possible babywearing?
Babies are going through differentstages of development. We always hear people say how fast babies growand how big baby has grown. We all agree, babies grow fast. In eachdevelopmental stage, their physiological needs need to be met as wellas their emotional needs in order for baby to develop as best aspossible. A baby carrier supporting the best position for babyphysiologically is a safe carrier, meaning it helps baby'sdevelopment and does not work against it. We also call using acarrier that supports baby well in every developmental stage bestpractice.
What are babies needs? Contrary tocommon carriers on the market, baby's legs need to be up with kneesabove baby's bum and moderately spread apart. Ultimately the sameposition you have when squatting on the floor. Take a minute to trythis and you will see how you can keep your balance with your legsmoderately spread apart while squatting. Baby feels the same, morebalanced if the physiological correct position is honored in the waybaby is carried. This position allows for the very best fit of thefemural head (hip ball) in the acetabulum (hip socket).
What happens when the femurol head isplaced well in the acetabulum? Ewald Fettweis, M.D. Who is apediatric orthopedic surgeon who has been a leader in safebabywearing Europe, studied the hip joint in particular and came tothis conclusion.
“Because the human is a physiological premature birth, the skeletonof a newborn is mainly cartilage. ?The spread squatting position ismost favorable. A clue for this is, for example, those populationswhere babies are carried in a warp, close to the mother's body, hipluxations are basically non existent when the children sit in thewrap, the legs are 90º or morelifted up and moderately spread, keeping the legs from beingstraightened. Thereby the pivotal muscles push above the hip ballinto the socket, thereby creating a hydrostatic pressure, which inturn supports the hardening of the bone.”
Looking at the hip, we know the hip ismainly cartilage at birth and the during first two years, as babygrows, the hip bones harden. With repeated pushing the femoral headand neck against the acetabulum in an unphysiological way, theintegrity of the acetabulum edge is compromised.
Safest practice in babywearing is tosupport baby's physiological need in making sure baby's legs aresupported in being in the proper spread squatting position.
Many doctors working to prevent andheal hip dysplasia have also published about best position for babyin a baby carrier.
Dr. Fettweis advises:
“The legs should not be close and pressed together. The diaperpackage can serve as a leverage where the hp ball is pressed upagainst the sides of the hip socket. It does not necessarily lead toa dislocation but rather to an unnatural strain on the hip socket.”(Ewald Fettweis, M.D. Hueftysplasie: Sinnvolle hilfen fuerBabyhueften, 46).
Along with the knee up position- thespread squatting position, the legs from the knee down should beoutside the carrier. Legs out help baby, from day one, to stabilizehimself against your body. This in turn helps baby work muscles,achieve optimum balance, have a sense of control, and help the hipbone to harden properly.
Dr. Sagmeister a babywearingoccupational therapist and teacher at Ergotherapie Schule Vilshofenin Germany said:
From an anatomical perspective it is of uttermost importance for thehealthy development of baby's hops, pelvic floor, and spine that thelegs are outside of the baby carrier. Through this so calledspread-squatting position one derives the physiologicalll correctCCangleee (Centrum-Collum- Diaphysen-angle), which counteracts apossible underdevelopment of the hip and pelvic structure.
If there is a suspicion of hip dysplasia (congenital development ofthe hip socket where the cartilage and soft hip ball joint does notfind sufficient stability in the hip socket), the pacing of the legsinside any baby carrier should clearly be avoided as that can, inextreme cases, lead to hip dysplasia.
In relation to the spine we need to take into consideration that thelegs are not to be pressed right in front of baby's abdomen as thatcan lead to a hyperkyposis of the spine. (A stronger curvature orkyphosis than is healthy). The overly rounded spine cannot absorb anyjolts usually absorbed by the spine through the discs.
Furthermore the small body is robbed of its stability which he canget with his legs outside of the carrier on the babywearer's bodythrough the torso erection (uplift) and balance movements throughextensors muscle movement.”
Another way to keep baby safe is tosupport baby's rounded back which is normal and takes about one yearto straighten. Often baby carriers are constructed to push baby'sback upright if baby is carried in an upright carrier. Baby is bornwith a rounded back called kyphosis. In order for the pelvic floor tobe tilted just right to fit the femur head perfectly into theacetabulum, baby's back is rounded. If the back position is off, thehip position will suffer. Baby's spine will stretch over the firstyear until baby can walk unassisted at about one year of age. Tosupport this rounded back with the spread squatting position isessential in helping baby's hip and spine develop properly.Babywearing is a wonderful tool in helping baby develop musclestrengths which in turn helps baby's spine develop balanced.
Why is the cradle carry still promoted?
Even though experts have long stronglyadvised against the cradle carry, many manufacturer still producecradle carry only baby carriers. All of them are not safe or bestpractice. To explain all the reasons against the cradle carry itwould take another article, which will follow soon. Suffice it to sayfor this article that the cradle carry may promote hip dysplasia andposes a high risk of positional asphyxiation. Hip dysplasia can bedeveloped later and does not need to be genetic. Using safest andbest practice will help your baby have the best start for a healthylife of walking, running, biking, dancing, hiking, and wherever else his or her legs will carry him or her.