“My baby just hates the carrier”
“My baby just doesn’t seem to be comfortable when I try to wear him”
“Every time I put my baby in the carrier she just screams until I get her out”
Let’s be clear: this scenario doesn’t happen to everyone, but it is fairly common. So if this is you, or if you ever find yourself in this situation, please know that you’re not alone!
It can be really upsetting as a parent when you invest in a gorgeous carrier, expecting lots of lovely hands-free cuddles, and then your baby doesn’t even want to go up! You even might be tempted to give up the idea of babywearing entirely… but before you toss your carrier in the trash, I want to reassure you that things are not always how they seem.
If your little one cries as soon as they’re put in the carrier, there are plenty of reasons why this could be happening, and not necessarily because they hate being up!
Babies, especially teeny tiny ones, get hungry all the time. Their tummies are small and don’t stay full for long. And they feed for lots of other reasons too, not just hunger. So when they’re suddenly held close to their food source and can smell it (if you’re breastfeeding), but aren’t able to actually feed when they want to, it can be pretty upsetting for them. The best time to put baby up is when their tummies are full, but not totally full and they are likely to be content. Perhaps try waiting until 10-20 minutes after a feed so that the food is all settled but they are still full! You don't have to do this unless you suspect it might be the reason your little one is upset, of course.
Some babies go to sleep when they’re tired. Other babies (like mine), tend to stay wide-eyed and get rather cranky instead, and need a bit of help to drift off. If your baby is tired, putting them up in a baby carrier, especially if they’re unfamiliar with it, could frustrate them. When trying new things, it’s ideal to go for times when your baby is more relaxed. Soon you’ll probably find that the carrier actually helps to relax your tired baby so that they can drift off more easily.
Little babies can often suffer from tummy pain. Some babies more than others need time to adjust to the world, to their food, and even crying can result in wind and tummy pains. It’s entirely possible that your little one is upset because of this (or even other pains). Come back to the carrier when your little one is more relaxed (new things are not welcome when you’re already not feeling great!). You might even find your baby carrier can help with getting wind up (or down!).
Believe it or not, babies are actually aware of when they need to urinate or do a poo. They also have a natural instinct to not do their business on another person! This instinct eventually dulls as nappies become the norm, but it may be another factor to your child's unsettledness. If you are carrying your baby and suddenly he has to wee, he may get very upset cause he needs to wee but he doesn’t want to wee on you. Take baby out, and just lay/sit/or stand them up on their own and try again in 5 minutes with a clean nappy.
If you’re a bit stressed or on edge, it’s entirely possible that your little one is sensing it, and as a result, can’t relax in the carrier. Babies can pick up on these things, believe it or not! Try to relax if you can. If you’re feeling anxious about the carrier because you’re new to babywearing, practice a few times with a demo doll (even a big teddy bear will work!) so that you’re calm and confident when you put your baby up.
Like all new things, they do take some time to get use to and become ‘normal’. Keep trying your baby in the carrier at relaxed times during the day for short spurts. Go for a walk to get some fresh air and just keep moving!
Honestly, there could be any number of factors that might make your little darling a bit sad. Are you wearing clothing that looks or feels a bit strange to your child? Are you wearing perfume (lots... or even just a little perfume can be off-putting!)? Is the room too bright? Are there noises disturbing your little one? Wouldn’t it be great if we could read minds? :-)
This particular point applies more to older babies and toddlers. Often a baby will be quite happy to go up in the carrier, and then suddenly refuse or protest. This is colloquially referred to as a “strike”. Sometimes your child will want to be carrier, and sometimes they will prefer to explore the world on their own. Don’t sell your carrier just yet! Most parents find that their babies and toddlers go through phases where they need close cuddles, and other phases where they prefer to be more independent.
Last but not least, it really needs to be said: YES, your baby might actually hate your baby carrier. This doesn’t mean babywearing is off the cards for you! Nearly all babies love to be held close to a trusted parent, feeling their heartbeat, keeping safe and warm. But there are a few things that could be preventing the love with your particular carrier:
If you’ve tried everything else on this list, I would 100% recommend getting to a babywearing meet to get some hands-on help and advice, and/or booking in with a babywearing consultant who can give you expert advice on helping your little one love the carrier.
Mamas and Daddies… my heart hurts for those of you who just want to wear your babies. Babywearing is such a wonderful, practical tool, that enables you to hold your baby safe and close, while going about your day. So let me encourage you to persevere – it IS worth it. And in the meantime, there are always other ways to keep your baby close.
Please be sure to pass this article on to any parents who might be on the verge of giving up on their babywearing journey. There’s a good chance that if they try these tips, they too will enjoy the bliss of babywearing!
Copyright Brooke Maree © 2017
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I thought it was time to talk about shopping while babywearing. After all, it’s a bit of a different experience than shopping with a pram ;-).