Rainbow Day Nursery in Trumpington says it is the first nursery in Cambridge and the third in the UK to have adopted babywearing as official practice. The nursery uses the practice for both babies and toddlers.
Babywearing involves carrying a baby in a sling or similar form of carrier, such as a wrap, to keep babies close to the body as well as freeing the hands to do other things.
Rainbow Day Nursery approached former parent at the nursery Dr Sophie Messager, who now works as a doula and antenatal educator, and devised a bespoke training course for 13 members of staff on babywearing.
The half-day course taught staff about the benefits of babywearing as well as the different types of sling available, the importance of supporting a baby’s hips correctly and how to adapt the sling to suit different postures and body shapes of practitioner.
Nursery owner Melissa Murfet said interest in babywearing is increasing as attachment parenting gains in popularity.
‘People are starting to be a lot more aware of babywearing and its benefits,’ she said. ‘We are learning that rather than attachment parenting making children rely on us more, it is in fact the exact opposite as they actually become more independent and less fearful as they grow up. Research has shown babywearing can reduce crying by 40 per cent.
‘Babywearing is not a new thing, this is the original way of carrying children around. We are primates, after all. But for some reason society caught on to prams and buggies. The history of prams only goes back about 200 years, while slings have been around forever.’
Ms Murfet added that the benefits of babywearing in the nursery have been felt immediately.
‘The babies are much more settled and either go to sleep easily in the sling or can look around at your eye line and notice things,’ she said.
‘The parents have been really positive, and the staff love it. I have four children myself and the girls working at the nursery have seen me babywearing for the last eight years. I think they probably thought I was a bit of a hippy, but now they are noticing the benefits for themselves. Your hands are free to get other things done and help other children, and it is much better for our backs.’
Dr Messager said, ‘We humans are a carrying species and the normal model of care is for human babies to be carried. Carried babies are calmer and cry less, and spend more time in the quiet, alert state, the ideal state for learning. For adult caregivers, it means that they can meet this need for closeness effortlessly whilst carrying on with other tasks.’
The National Childbirth Trust (NCT) recommends the UK Sling Consortium’s guidelines on safe babywearing, known as the ‘TICKS’ checklist:
- Tight for adequate support
- In view at all times (this refers to the baby’s face)
- Close enough to kiss (the baby’s forehead or head)
- Keep the baby’s chin off their chest to ensure breathing isn’t restricted
- Supported back so the baby can’t slump and restrict their airway.