As a first time mom, baby carriers have given me the confidence to carry my baby in a convenient way. On the first few weeks of his life, my baby needs to be held for security and comfort. More than just a way to transport him, baby carrier, baby backpacks or sling provides a gentle transition because he needs to adapt to the new environment. Being held in a carrier or sling will give him an experience of eye-to-eye contact critical for healthy bonding. Soothed by a constant gentle motion while on the carrier, he also receives a steady stream of sensory stimuli that advances his neurological development. Wearing my baby in a sling or carrier has improved our cues together. With him held close, I can easily hear his stomach growl, feel him pass a bowel movement, or feel his body relax as he gets sleepy. This minimizes guesswork on my part, giving myself more time to comfort, feed, or change him before he resorts to crying. And more freedom for me to do anything while giving him what he need. A carrier also helps my husband bond with our baby. Fathers can form a similar bond by habitually carrying the child from a very early age in a sling or carrier. In a short period of time, the baby could begin to associate a father's smell, the sound of his voice, and the feel of his skin with protection and love.

But how do we get to choose the right baby carrier? When I decided to get one for my child, it was the time when I knew he’s ready to be carried in another form aside from my hand and his car seat. I concluded that it’s not just about me but more about him –his safety and convenience. And when I say safety, this specifically refers to the physical structure of his immature body. As I’m realizing the benefits of "wearing" my baby while I perform my daily activities, I was cautious not to compromise the integrity of my child's spine through the use of improper carriers. There is a condition of Spondylolisthesis that every parent needs to be aware of as a result of excessive stress in the low back, such as a baby's spine might experience in certain carriers. It is relatively uncommon, but when aggravated is extremely painful.

Ergonomics was my main goal in choosing the right brand. It should conform to the contour of my body as well as my baby’s. It took me a little while because while I found something that’s comfortable for me, my baby looked like a little ‘joey-in-the pouch’. No doubt it’s secure but it doesn’t give him the pleasure of ‘exploring’ while we cruise. And of course, there’s also the issue about the leg hole—will his legs fit in there considering the double layers of clothing and buntings especially on winter? What I found to be ideal was the baby carrier sling. There are many variations and dizzying arrays of this type in the market today. And a few notes that I consider in choosing the type of carrier are; first, before my child can hold his head on his own, the carrier should support his neck. A sling cradles my son just like my arms would, unlike vertical carriers which can actually allow a whiplash type injury. Second, the carrier should not place my child’s spine in a weight bearing position too early. He should be horizontal or inclined, with the spine supported along its length.

Baby carriers also gave me different point of view of what babies are really like. Sometimes I envisioned babies as lying quietly in a crib, gazing passively at dangling mobiles and picked up and carried only to be fed and played with and then put down. I may think that "up" periods are just dutiful intervals to quiet him long enough to put him down again. Baby wearing reverses this view!

The choice of infant carriers is a small thing when compared to all the other concerns that faces parents, but it is a decision that can have lifelong effects. By choosing the best baby carrier, you may be preventing a lifetime of backaches and other spinal stresses!
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