Babywearing Research

Babywearing doesn’t automatically equal safe babywearing. There is a safe babywearing which supports the developing hip and spine of the baby, the safe head position along with supporting the babywearer’s back properly. There is also babywearing which does not take the developmental stages of a baby and the babywearer into consideration.

On our site we teach only safe babywearing, backed up by decades of research from all around the world. 

What is a safe position for a baby who is being worn?

A baby, when being picked up, will pull the legs up in the correct position which will place the hip joint into the socket in a perfect position to ensure correct hardening of the cartilage present the first few month after birth. This position is called squatting straddle position or wrongly called frog leg position.

Dr Ewald Fettweis, a leading osteopath in Germany, has extensively researched babies hip development and came to this conclusion. It is best to support baby’s natural leg and hip positioning in order to keep the joint in the hip for proper hardening of the cartilage of the hip socket. To ensure the optimum position, a baby should have the knees up, squatting , about 110º and spread, straddled, 90º.

Babywearing Research: correct hip position

“Because the human is a physiological premature birth, the skeleton of a newborn is mainly cartilage. The squatting spread position is most favorable. A clue for this is, for example, those populations where babies are carried in a wrap, close to the mother’s body, hip luxations are basically non existent. When the children sit in the wrap, the legs are 90º or more lifted up and moderately spread, keeping the leg from being straightened. Thereby the pivotal muscles push above the hip ball into the socket, thereby creating a hydrostatic pressure, which in turn supports the hardening of the bone.”

Dr. Ewald Fettweis

A good baby carrier will always ensure this healthy hip/leg position for the baby.

With this squatting straddle position the baby’s buttock will be lower than the knees. This allows the baby to keep the curvature of the developing spine, which is almost a C at birth (kyphosis). Baby carriers trying to straighten this position are putting the developing spine in danger of deformation.

Straightening of the spine happens in three different stages and takes about one year. If the baby carrier is supporting the squatting straddle position, your baby will be comfortable and enjoy coming along. You, the babywearer, will also be comfortable as your back and shoulders are supported correctly along with the center of gravity, somewhat changing due to your baby being straddled around you, is as close to your body as possible without obstructing your baby’s airway. There are several positions supporting this perfect developmental position and you’ll be learning all of them. 

Why should the baby’s feet be outside?

Why should the baby’s feet be outside rather than inside the baby carrier when worn chest to chest or on the babywearer’s back?

Research has shown how important the slightly tilted position of the pelvic floor for the hip is. If the legs are inside, the spine bears some of the jolts that would otherwise be absorbed by the squatting straddle position of the legs and knees.

The baby can also not be actively involved in stabilizing him or herself which gives the baby a sense of loss of control.

If your baby is still all rolled up, try massaging and stretching baby’s legs at least every time you change your baby.

With legs in, the babywearer should not be moving around much but rather sitting down with the baby in the carrier. The spread-squatting position is the best for baby’s hip development, hence a cradle position is not recommended, even for tiny babies.

Carrying babies facing forward vs facing the parent

Please see the Article published in “mothering magazine” No 137, July/August 2006 Dr.Kirkilionis