Safe Babywearing

How To Protect Your Baby's Spine

Babywearing is one of the easiest ways to get around when you are a new mom, or if you have other children running around that you need to attend to.

It uses less of your energy and frees your arms to other things. It is also extremely comforting for your baby, who can hear your heartbeat. When they are snuggled up properly, it can also mimic their conditions in the womb, as they are gently rocked around while you are walking. It has been documented that infants who are carried for 3+ hours per day, in the first 3 months of life, cry 43% less than those who are carried less frequently. It helps with digestion and, of course, helps with bonding. Pretty amazing for you and for baby, huh?

There does seem to be some concern, however, that babywearing is somehow bad for baby's spinespecifically in the upright positionas babies cannot hold up their headsand can cause developmental problems in the hips, pelvis, and spine, such as spondylolisthesis (or when a vertebrae, usually in the lumbar spine, slips forward and causes instability). I am not sure where this concern originated, but there is almost no evidence that supports this when the positioning of the baby is correct.

When you are wearing your newborn, it is important that the baby's legs are brought up more than 90 degrees and spread out about 90 degrees—it kind of resembles a frog leg. This supports the thigh bone in the hip socket and helps promote a healthy maturation of the hip joint, and prevents hip dysplasia.

The hip joint is basically a ball and socket joint. Infant hips are so soft and malleable in the first months of life, it is important they are supported properly, so that they can take the right shape. If they are constantly placed in the wrong position (i.e. allowing the legs to dangle), this can cause permanent deformation of the ball part of the joint and can cause over-stretching in the hip capsule.

It is also important to note that with babies under 5 months of age, they should be facing towards the mother and not facing outwardsthis can cause strain on the infant's upper spine and shoulders, as the carrier will likely be pressing the shoulders backward, causing the mid-back and lower neck to flatten out. Babies have yet to develop the main curves in their spines, the way adults have, and forcing an infant's spine flat will affect the development of these primary curves. 

 To summarize, the top 3 take-home tips for babywearing are:

  • "Frog leg" position for legs (brought up and out 90 degrees)
  • Face the baby inwards, towards you
  • Keep the neck in a neutral spine, and remember to regularly alternate which side the baby's head faces

So, go ahead and enjoy bonding and babywearing with your new little baby! When I had my first born in a sling in those few early months, it was all I could do to just watch him, smell him, and kiss him over and over and over again. In the right position, it is hugely beneficial for you and your little love bear.

Happy babywearing,

Dr. Stephanie

Dr. Stephanie graduated with High Distinction with a Bachelor of Science in Neuroscience and Psychology from the University of Toronto, and graduated as a Doctor of Chiropractic from the Canadian Memorial Chiropractic College in Toronto, Canada.

Dr. Stephanie has 2 subspecialties:
1.Sports Injury Prevention and Rehabilitation
2.Pregnancy: Pre and Post Natal Care for mom and baby.

Dr. Stephanie has been involved in the fitness industry for over 14 years and is a former fitness competitor, having placed 3rd in the New York Regional Division of the prestigious National Physique Committee in April 2008. She knows first hand the physical and mental determination an athlete must give to their sport in order to be successful, and the maintenance, and preventative care that is required.

Her approach to chiropractic as it pertains to sport and fitness is simple – prevent the injury before it starts. By maintaining and optimizing the functional integrity of movement, strength, endurance and agility, she is able to help her athletes from pre through post-season training. Dr. Stephanie uses Functional Anatomic Palpation, Functional Range Release, Active Release Therapy and Spidertech taping in her diagnosis and treatment of sports injuries.

Dr. Stephanie is a member of the International Chiropractic Pediatric Association, and regularly sees pregnant women, infants, children and toddlers in her practice. Dr. Stephanie believes that by treating a woman through her pregnancy, and then teaching healthy habits to kids early on is the best way to influence a child's health over the course of their lives. She currently completing her fellowship in Pediatrics with the International Chiropractic Pediatric Association and is Webster Certified. Her additional training includes additional training in pre and post natal care for mom, neuromotor development, pediatric nutrition and detoxification, sacro-occiptal and craniosacral techniques for infants and children, neurosensory integration, and an in depth understanding of how pediatric anatomy and development differs from that of adults. She is a a member of the Ontario Chiropractic Association and the Canadian Chiropractic Association.