To celebrate International Babywearing Week we’re running a series of blog posts to take you though your changing babywearing journey. Keep checking back for the next stage, taking your carrying journey from birth to toddler!
Stage 2. Moving forward (and sideways!)
- Age range: 3-8 months
- Physical stages: baby is developing spinal strength from the top down, learning to support and turn their head, then roll and think about supporting the weight of their own torso.
- Psychological stages: baby can now see the world! They are engaging with faces, smiling and responding to voices and expressions.
Wow! What a busy phase for development this is! We’re going to place more focus here as this stage can be a challenge for everyone involved.
If the first months are for nurturing strong internal organs for independent breathing and digestion, these next few months really put your baby’s new internal powerhouse to work. Your baby’s brain is putting out all sorts of connections; the left and right sides of their brain are starting to talk to each other and they can now see for longer distances so there really is a whole new world both inside and out for them to experience and assimilate. Their spinal muscles are strengthening and they’re starting to be able to control and coordinate their movements.
You notice them practicing these new muscle movements; first by constantly turning their head and looking at everything (working muscles needed for secure head control and to calibrate depth perception), then by turning, pushing or twisting as the spine strength develops further down their spine to their shoulders and upper torso (practicing reaching and rolling, and hand-eye coordination).
Many parents notice their baby’s behaviour change dramatically; your baby may well be expressing themselves more loudly and demonstrating frustration; they can sense their own potential, but still don’t quite have the ability to act on it. This is all very commonly expressed by reactions to how they are being carried, and many parents find that this stage feels surprisingly challenging.
Whilst your newborn may well have loved snuggling in their cosy wrap; your 3-6 month old will be letting you know that their needs have changed. It may seem like ‘they don’t like the sling’; they may push against your chest or against the carrier itself; they may twist and crane their neck and they may make bigger stretching movements with their whole body.
Don’t give up on carrying – your baby needs you more than ever! They may well be feeling frustrated, but not necessarily with you or with your sling. Carrying at this stage gives your baby fantastic opportunities to strengthen the muscles developing in their neck, back and core; it’ll give them a great vantage point to start engaging with the world, and it will allow them a vital safe resting place where they can absorb and process all that new information.
At this stage make sure that your baby’s lower legs are free to move when they are in a sling or carrier. Once they are able to stabilise their head against the movements of your body they no longer need support up to the top of their spine; up to the top of their shoulders will be sufficient. Make sure your baby has access to their hands; they’ll find this reassuring and start to coordinate hand-to-mouth movements in preparation for eating solids. You may find that they want an arm or two completely free to move; they may be strong enough to manage this, but be aware of how well your baby can support their upper body. They may still need head support, especially when sleeping, even if while awake they want to feel their face and arms being less contained.
The blog posts in this series take you through the main stages of baby development and how this may affect your child’s carrying needs and preferences.
Stage 1: Arrival – The Fourth Trimester
Stage 2: Moving Forwards (and Sideways)
Stage 3: Getting Involved
Stage 4: Onwards and Upwards