Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Why your 4 month old may not "Hate to be worn"


Ring Sling

Congrats on making it through the last 3 months with your baby!

I bet by now you were starting to cruise right along. Baby is settling into a more predictable routine, you are breathing in the smell of that delicious baby, and if you have chosen to wear your baby, I bet up until now you have been able to get more done with them snuggled to you and sleeping while being close to your body, swaying gently to the rhythm of your life.

But now it's month 4 and that baby who used to just sigh and settle their little cheek against your chest as soon as you got them into a carrier is fighting and pushing and crying and resisting what used to be the one way you could always count on to get baby to sleep or get a little time to get the dishes done or a load of laundry in. It's confusing, and frustrating... and totally normal.

At 4 months babies go through a series of developmental leaps that make this a notoriously fussy babywearing period. While before, your tiny infant seemed to be pretty much along for the ride, by month 4 babies development may impact the following categories:


Ergobaby Adapt Carrier
Increased motor skills-
During this time, babies muscle strength will start to increase as they begin to figure out how to exercise their body for rolling, sitting, and eventually standing & walking. The way that a baby practices flexing the muscles used for rolling on the ground, can feel like baby is fighting when being worn. Twisting, pushing, kicking, these are all necessary skills to enable baby to turn themselves from front to back or back to front. Since babywearing is a great way to engage babies core, they will figure out that they can exercise their body against yours by pushing against you.  Often times this exercise is mistakenly interpreted as a babies desire to want to turn around and face forward, when in reality baby is just getting ready to roll and increasing trunk strength to be able to sit. If you do chose to try this position, make sure the carrier you chose is designed to face outward, that baby fits the carrier correctly in this position, and since babies this young are still very easily overstimulated, consider limiting the amount of time spent this way.


Ergobaby 360 adjusted for Forward Facing position

Clearer vision-

By around 4 months, babies field of vision increases. When babies are born, their vision is developed enough to allow them to see clearly about as far as their caregivers face while holding them, and they are enamored with this view. But by month 4 or so, they get a better, clearer, brighter view of the world a bit further around them, and it is fascinating! They want to take it all in, and they can get really annoyed when you don't let them explore all that is now before them. A hip carry is a great way to let baby get a bit more of a view of the world, while still allowing them to be close and maintain the ability to turn in toward the safety of the wearer.

Growth- 

There's a reason why baby clothes change sizes after 3 months. Babies go through a pretty significant growth spurt around this time. You may find what is comfortable for baby one day is suddenly causing tears and resistance the next. This could be that baby has grown and how they fit comfortably in a carrier yesterday no longer works for them now. So, especially if you are using a sized carrier like a K'tan, or a structured carrier like an Ergo, Beco, or other buckled SSC, make sure you are checking to make sure that baby still fits the same without any adjustments being necessary. If your carrier has an infant insert like the Ergo, now might be time to check if you can switch from the whole infant insert to just using the pillow portion. You can check the manufacturer's website for your particular carrier to see what the guidelines are for switching from the newborn to infant settings.



Twins in a ring sling and a buckle carrier.
Sleeping Patterns-
It's very common that all these things mentioned above can contribute to an interruption to your baby's sleep habits. Babies who have learned new skills and talents have a harder time calming themselves physically. When you can suddenly see more of the world around you it's hard to want to close your eyes and miss out on it by taking a nap. When your body is growing and changing, your appetite increases as well, and babies may need to eat much more frequently during this time. For those who are breastfeeding, it may seem that all baby wants to do now is nurse while being worn. Sometimes putting baby on and going for a nice long walk is the only way to finally get baby to settle and rest. Plus it serves as a nice escape for a caregiver who is feeling overwhelmed with helping baby through all these new challenges.


Woven wrap in a Front Wrap Cross Carry



The good news is that all of this rarely signifies an end in your babywearing days with your child. These things taper off in a matter of weeks and most babies will go on to love being worn for possibly years longer. It's true what they say that "the only thing you can count on is change", and this is true with babies more than anywhere else. 

If you need help figuring out how to use different positions in your carrier, want to check how baby is fitting or possibly try out something that might fit your growing baby better, or learn how to feed baby while they are being worn, a local babywearing group can be a great resource for this. You can get hands on help from volunteer educators who can hopefully give you some tips for making it through this particular time because most of us have been there ourselves.

Don't know where to find your local babywearing group, check out this link.