Virtually all babies love being carried and it's biologically normal and brilliant for their cognitive and physical development.
So what's going on?
We've supported tens of thousands of families on the carrying journey. So we've got lots of reassurance for you - and tips on how to help your baby settle in a sling.
DON'T WORRY, IT'S NORMAL
It’s completely normal and very common for babies to fuss when they're being transferred from one place to another. In and out of car seats, clothes, nappies and slings – if your baby was comfy where they were they’ll likely react when their situation changes.
Many babies grumble while you’re putting them in a sling or carrier, but often settle after 5-10 minutes once they are safely secured and you get moving. If not then take a break to feed, play, relax and try again later.
Newborns are used to movement in the womb; so they’ll be soothed by gentle swaying or, more often, a brisk walk. So make sure you’ve got your shoes on before you put them in the carrier, and get outside.
Fresh air and a change of scenery work wonders. This is also true to for older babies, who will love the sensory stimulation and distraction.
THEY CAN SMELL MILK, BUT THEY CAN’T GET TO IT
If your newborn is hungry they might not settle in a sling, particularly if they're breastfed and can smell your milk but can't get to it!
It’s so easy to underestimate how often newborns need to feed. Even if they recently fed, be on the lookout for hunger signs like restlessness, shaking or nodding their head against you ('rooting'), opening and closing their mouth, or sucking their hands/anything close to their face.
DEALING WITH '4-MONTH-ITIS'
Is your 3, 4 or 5-month-old crying or fidgeting your carrier? Welcome to the Frustrated Fifth Trimester!
Babies around this age can be a bit unsettled in the carrier and often demand lots of (sometimes non-stop) movement from you while they're nestled in. It peaks around the 4-month mark, hence the catchy term "4-month-itis."
When they push against your chest, it doesn't necessarily mean they're unhappy – they’re just moving as they would if they were tummy-down on a playmat. They're working those baby muscles, gearing up for rolling and sitting up.
But here's the trick: get moving, preferably in the great outdoors. Standing or sitting still is a no-go for both of you. And remember, it's just a phase!
TRY A DIFFERENT POSITION
Newborns usually love being snug against your chest with their arms tucked inside the sling. But once they hit around 4 months, they often prefer a little more freedom to explore the world around them.
Try using a carrier that allows them to have their arms and shoulders free to look around. Or check out a carrier that lets them face forwards (from around 4 months), a hip carry (from 5-6 months), or a high back carry to give them a view over your shoulder (usually at 6 months+). Izmi carriers do ALL of this, so you'll have all the options!
TRYING TO CRAWL OR WALK
Oh look, another phase! Around 8-12 months your baby is likely to start trying to crawl or pull themselves up to walking.
Why go in a carrier when they could be mastering these latest skills?!
If your baby is now doing somersaults and loud protests to avoid going in a carrier, you may need to give them lots of playtime before popping them in (if possible).
Once they become confident little walkers, you’ll find the novelty wears off fairly quickly, and they’re likely to start asking to be carried once their little legs get tired.
In a sling, crying and fussing is happening right in front of your face and close to your ears, so you’ll be far more aware of it than when you’re strapping your baby into a car seat or pushchair.
Give it 5-10 minutes of movement and they’re very likely to settle and/or fall asleep. Tired babies are also more likely to fuss in a sling, but stick with it!
With a crying baby, 20 seconds might feel like 5 whole minutes… but it’s not! So time yourself if needed, and be as patient as you can.
With practice, you'll become a pro at putting on the carrier swiftly and without any fuss, making the whole process a breeze for both of you.
CHECK YOUR CARRIER IS FITTED CORRECTLY
Babies like to feel safe. A sling that’s snug and well fitted will support their spine and head, enabling them to relax. If they don’t feel supported then they won’t be able to settle as easily.
We often see parents who think loosening their carrier will make their baby comfier, but it actually has the opposite effect. In a loosely fitted baby carrier, your baby will feel less secure and will fuss more.
If you're having trouble getting your sling to fit just right or always find yourself supporting your baby with your hands, you might need some help or perhaps a different sling to ensure a close and safe fit.
Your baby should be held high and snug against your chest, close enough to kiss the top of their head; and with the carrier tightened to prevent them flopping or slumping away from your body.
GET IN TOUCH
Need more guidance on sling wizardry? Don't hesitate to get in touch. We're here to make your baby-carrying adventures smoother than a lullaby.
Happy babywearing! 😊👶🤱