I came so close to buying a Baby Bjorn baby carrier. Another mum had shown me hers and told me how easy it was to clip on and off. It looked great … and seemed easy to use. What mum isn’t drawn to something practical that could make her life easier? But then, a few days later, a friend of mine sent me an article about all the baby related things which a chiropractor was recommending you don’t put your baby in. It included things like jolly jumpers, baby walkers … and the Baby Bjorn carrier.
A week later I heard Family Chiropractor, Dr Vanessa Harrington give a public talk about baby carriers. Part of her presentation included the diagrams below showing which style of baby carriers could lead to hip dislocation in your baby (left) and which style of carrier is safe for your baby’s developing hips (right). Arg! What mum wouldn’t want to avoid that! Of course they’re not allowed to mention brand names at those events, but the style they were warning against were identical to the Baby Bjorn and Stokke carriers. I was relieved that we’d only worn Joshi in the hugabub wrap and then the ergo baby carrier, because they were both aligned with what she was suggesting were healthy for your baby’s hips.
I must just add here, that I’ve just loved, loved, loved wearing Joshi over the last 16 months, so much so that we’ve literally only used the stroller less than 10 times since his birth. (Yes, the expensive ‘must have’ stroller that’s currently gathering dust in our storeroom). I’ve loved it so much I’d go so far as to say that the ergo baby carrier has been the best and most useful baby thing we’ve ever bought. Anyway, here are a few things I learned from Dr Harrington about baby carrying which I thought would be worth sharing with you:
If Your Baby’s Under 6 Months Old, Don’t Wear Him/Her Facing Outwards:
This is a message that’s made it into the news recently – Forward carriers put baby in danger. Here’s why ….
- The dangling legs of a baby who’s facing outwards may stretch their developing hip joints and increase their risk of hip dysplasia.
- When you wear your baby outwards it shifts their weight distribution from their bottom onto their crotch/testicles/pubic symphysis. Imagine how you’d feel if you were sitting with all that pressure on your privates. “The sitting bones are strong with lots of padding – designed perfectly for weight-bearing, whereas the pubic symphysis and testicles aren’t,” says Dr Harrington.
- Outward facing has the potential to interfere with normal spinal curve development by flattening out the backward kyphotic curve. “An absence of normal spinal curves reduces the strength and flexibility development of the spine for life; and can delay normal milestone development,” says Harrington.
One Of The Advantages Of Facing Your Baby Inwards:
Of course a really great advantage of wearing your baby facing inwards is that they can snuggle into you to seek reassurance from you and switch off from the surrounding world if they want to – something they can’t do when facing outwards. As an adult when we’ve had enough of all the stimulation on a busy street we can just go somewhere else. Imagine how much more intense the stimulation of a busy street is for a baby and how full on it must feel for them if they’re strapped into this outward facing position they can’t get out of. When I see babies facing outwards in a busy environment (like a busy shopping mall or street) I often wonder whether there’ll be an extra big stress-release-cry for mum and dad to deal with later.
Always Make Sure Your Baby’s Knees Are Higher Than Their Hips:
Irrespective of your child’s age, avoid carriers that let their legs dangle downwards. (I can’t help but imagine how uncomfortable I’d be being carried around like that rather than in a comfy, more natural piggy-back position). Your baby’s support has to extend all the way from their bum, along their thighs to the back of their knees.
Get A Carrier that Gives You Good Back Support:
The carriers that don’t support the back of the person carrying the baby are those where the straps are quite high on the back and where there’s not much support around the hips. One of the reasons I’ve loved the ergo carrier is because I’ve felt that my back has been supported by its wide, think hip band. If your carrier doesn’t support your back properly you’re likely to end up with back pain, so you really need to get a carrier that checks all the ticks for you as well as for your baby.
Why Risk It?
If you don’t wear your baby in a carrier where their knees are higher than their hips it can lead to hip problems in babies who are susceptible, ie. in babies who already have some form of instability or “clicky” hips. Also, any hip problems caused by a baby carrier may only become noticeable once your child is walking. Correcting hip displacement could mean years of pain and struggle, so why take the chance – get a carrier that supports your child’s hips.
Some Brands of Carriers/Wraps That Meet The Healthy Hip Guidelines (affiliate links):
What’s the carrier in the photo at the top of the article?
That’s my Ergo – much loved and much used. If you want to buy one, you can put it straight into your Amazon.com basket below. If you’d like to read more reviews you can see them here
Want More Info On How to Avoid Hip Displacement?
If you want to read more about how to place your baby in a baby carrier or baby sling to avoid them getting hip displacement, click here for some info from The International Hip Dysplasia Institute.
How Did Baby Bjorn Respond To This Article?
On 29th August I received a response to this article from Baby Bjorn (copied in full at the end of this post). On hearing about the improvements to the new carrier they’re launching this year – the Baby Carrier One, I decided to review it with the assistance of Dr Vanessa Harrington, Chiropractor and Baby Wearing Consultant.
Is the new Baby Bjorn ‘Baby Carrier One’ Yet Another Crotch Dangler?
To learn whether brand new design from Baby Bjorn, the Baby Carrier One, is yet another crotch danger, read my review here.
Baby Bjorn Respond To This Article…
“Hello Meggan, We got some questions from parents who have read your blog post. The way I see it, the most important thing is that parents do carry their children. As there are plenty of brands and alternatives out there it doesn’t have to be in a carrier from Baby Bjorn, if you’re not happy with it. However, the medical concerns you’re referring to are not called for. Safety comes first. We would never make a baby carrier, or indeed any other baby product that would be harmful to babies. You’re referring to the International Hip Dysplasia Institute which have plenty of material online and are experts in the field. We’ve met with them during the development of our latest Baby Carrier and we’re proud to now have this statement on our web page: “This product has been developed reflecting the advice of the International Hip Dysplasia Institute. Baby Carrier One is following the recommendation of the International Hip Dysplasia Institute in order to secure an appropriate position of the baby.” It’s a great thing that so many parents these days are carrying their babies. It’s practical, it’s a nice thing to do but we firmly believe it has many positive effects and strengthens the bond between the baby and the parent so we’re very happy that this is gaining popularity in so many countries around the world. Parents should pick a carrier they’re happy with but there’s no need to worry about Baby Bjorn. 30 million babies have been carried in them until now and we hope many more will in the future. Happy baby wearing!