Special Needs Babywearing

Posted by Laurel McCarthy | 24.01.2013

Many parents with special needs children or who themselves have disabilities wonder if they will be able to wear their children. While every situation is unique and we recommend that you consult your doctor or pediatrician if you have concerns, we do have some recommendations for baby carriers that meet some special needs.

We’d love to add to this section as well, so please contact us if you have any suggestions!

Baby Carriers for Special Needs Children:

Premature babies

It is highly recommend that you wear your premature child as much as possible. Kangaroo care, the practice of wearing your baby next to your skin for hours a day, has been demonstrated to improve outcomes for premature infants. Click here for more information (and links to research articles) about the benefits of using a sling or baby carrier with your preemie.   Please note, these recommendations are general guidelines only and should not be used in lieu of a doctor’s advice.  We cannot know your baby’s individual condition or needs, so please consult a medical professional prior to using any baby carrier.

Our top recommendations for babywearing a preemie is the Wrapsody Hybrid Wrap.  This wrap is super adjustable and very comfortable for wearing for long periods of time. It’s actually possible to use a stretchy wrap instead of a shirt in hot weather! Only the upright, facing in position is recommended for very small babies

Differently Abled Adults

Poor sight/vision

If you have poor or no vision, look for a carrier with some built-in protection for the baby – from its shape, padding or frame – so that the baby is protected if you trip or run into something. Also the baby needs to be held in securely so your hands are free to hold a cane or to work your guide dog – check you can bend forward safely. Clips and buckles with a definite click are helpful, to know they are securely fastened. If you have some useful sight, you are likely to prefer brightly colored carriers and color contrasted fastenings. Color coordinated straps and clips make it easier to identify which part fixes to which – it might be worth adding your own color coding to fastenings. It is easier to work out how to put on shaped carriers than formless ones. Overall, visually impaired parents like the slings and unstructured carriers least.

Recommendations: Buckle carrier, or a framed backpack

Impaired dexterity

If you have weak or painful grip or the use of only one hand, look for carriers with as few fastening as possible. Make sure you can manage any clips, buckles and strap adjustments. You may want to avoid carriers such as med dais and wraps since they rely on your tying knots to secure the baby – your baby’s security might depend on tying tightly, and the knots may get tighter or loosen from the baby’s weight.

Recommendations: pouches, ring slings

Limited mobility/difficulty walking

If you walk have difficulty walking but can still manage a carrier, choose one with a very secure, hands-free carry. This will ensure that your hands are free to use hand rails and also your cane or crutches.

Carriers that hold the baby in the center of your body are best, so that the baby’s movement doesn’t compromise your balance.

Recommendations: Wrap, meh dai or buckle carrier

Using a wheelchair

If you use a wheelchair, outward facing front carriers will probably suit you best, so that the baby is sitting on your lap. Whatever carrier you choose, make sure you can see over the baby’s head and that the baby’s head doesn’t catch your chin. The baby should not be able to stand on your lap inside the carrier. Make sure you can reach any buckles and don’t choose a carrier with long straps which can dangle on the floor.

Recommendations: Ring slings (for infants), Beco Gemini or Pikkolo

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