Expert Interview: Christine Kininmonth – Babywearing

Christine Kininmonth

Baby wearing has very much come back into vogue in recent years after waxing and waning in its popularity.  And although it is common practice in many countries and considered so much the norm that “nursery furniture” doesn’t even exist, in 21st Century Australia, baby wearing is still considered a choice.

Recently, My Babybaby had the chance to catch up with one of its most passionate supporters, Christine Kininmonth from Fertile Mind  www.fertilemind.com.au  whose company conducted a study into this very topic.

Their research found that information around the benefits of baby wearing was currently inadequate in Australia and potentially babies and their parents were missing out on knowing just how valuable it can be. They concluded that the best people to be providing parents with this information are healthcare professionals.

According to The Fertile Mind 2013 Baby Wearing Survey, as many as 80% of respondents felt that pre and post-natal health care professionals are the right ones to provide training on the benefits and safety.  Midwives, child health nurses, obstetricians and child birth educators, those who are generally seen as a source of trusted advice and support and who have access to a large number of new parents, especially mothers.

What is Baby Wearing and Why Should we by Paying Attention to it?

Basically what it means is that babies are secured to their parent’s body by means of a wrap, sling or carrier. Young babies especially are natural “clingers”.  It makes sense to place them in a device such as a carrier which complements the froglike position which they adopt of abducting their legs and grasping with their fingers. All primate babies do this.

With baby wearing, instead of being physically separated as happens when the baby is placed in a pram or a bouncer, they are instead supported securely against their parent, most commonly their mother. As the parent goes about their usual activities, the baby moves with them; sleeps as they need to and gains stimulation, soothing and interaction as necessary.

Proponents of baby wearing say that because of the closeness of the parent, they are able to respond much more quickly to their baby’s needs and crying does not escalate to the point of real distress. Instead, the parent is able to pick up on their baby’s cues very early and each becomes more attuned and sensitive to the other.

Close Physical Proximity to each Other Brings Many Benefits Including:

  • Improved opportunity for bonding and emotional attachment.
  • Supporting breastfeeding because of easier access to the mother’s breast.
  • Reassurance and comfort enhances the baby’s feelings of security.
  • Reduces the risk of postnatal depression.
  • Supports infant development.
  • Reduction in infant stress impacts on the baby’s ability to form positive relationships as they become more independent.
  • Reduces the child’s susceptibility to stress as they mature because of feelings of enhanced security.

But it’s important for parents to remember that just fashioning a sling out of an old sheet is not ideal and can in fact, pose significant safety risks.

The ACCC (Australian Competition and Consumer Commission) – Product Safety Australia website includes information about what constitutes safe practice when using a sling. Currently they are looking at reviewing these guidelines.

To help parents ensure that both the sling they are using and the way they are using it are safe, the TICKS guide has been developed.

T – TIGHTSlings/carriers need to be tight enough so the baby is hugged close to the parent. Any slackness or loose fabric encourages the baby to slump down into the sling which can then affect their breathing.

I – In View – The parent should be able to see the baby’s face whenever they are in the carrier. Their face should not be covered by the fabric and be facing upwards not against the parent’s body.

C – Close Enough to Kiss- The baby’s head should be as close to their parents chin as is comfortable for both. And by tipping your head forward you should be able to kiss the baby on their head or forehead.

 K – Keep Chin off the Chest The baby’s chin should not be against their chest. If this happens their breathing can be affected because their airway is not in its correct alignment.

S- Supported Back The baby’s back should be supported in its natural position and their tummy and chest are against the parent.  The baby’s bottom needs to be in the deepest part of the carrier so they are not “folded in” by the sling.     

Fertile Mind plans to sponsor training for healthcare professionals who are involved in pre and post natal care for parents.

For more information contact  www.fertilemind.com.au  or Christine Kininmonth on:  (02) 9905 0199