Why Does My Baby Cry in The Sling?

It can be really frustrating, can’t it? You heard that a sling or baby carrier can help babies to cry up to 40% less, but whenever you try to use your sling/carrier, your baby turns into a raging ball of fury, while you get all hot, flustered & panicked & then burst into tears yourself – at least I know I did in those very early days! So, let’s look at why – & how we can help!

My newborn daughter, aged 3 days, in a stripey bue wrap sling. Her little red face shows how cross she was about being put in the sling.
My 3 day old daughetr, red-faced with fury at being manipulated into her sling! Ten seconds later she was asleep.

Babies Don’t Like Change

Ok, let’s face it – who amongst us likes it when stuff randomly changes around us, but most newborns *really* don’t like it when things change. It could be something that we think is relatively harmless, like a nappy change, getting dressed/undressed or, (one of the worst) getting in or out of the car seat, but our babies get really unsettled by it. So, when they’re snug & warm, settled in someone’s arms & suddenly you pick them up & start trying to put them into a new sling or carrier, they can protest about it.

The key here is, generally, movement. Make sure you’ve practiced using your sling/carrier with a teddy bear or (once we’re allowed to be “in-person” again) with one of our weighted Demo Dolls, then get baby into the carrier/sling, get them secure & then get moving. Babies love movement – it’s why you can’t stand still when you’re holding your baby. Babies are hard-wired to be soothed by movement & we are hard-wired to provide that movement for them.

Also, the change from “not in sling/carrier” to “in sling/carrier” – doesn’t have to be a single step. You can stop at various points during the process to soothe your baby & bounce or sway, or do what you need to, to allow your baby to relax before you move on to the next step with your sling/carrier. Take your time!

You’re Unsure or Uncomfortable

Babies are ridiculously clever individuals & if you are unsure about your carrier/sling for any reason – even just simply because you’re still learning how to use it – your baby may pick up on that. Your sling or carrier should always feel easy for you to use, otherwise, you won’t use it. Be strong, act confident & remember that you can always book a Consultation (online for now), where we can show you any tips or tricks we have to help. There’s always more than one way to get a sling/carrier on & we can help you find the method that works best for you.

Keep practicing! As you become more confident with your sling/carrier, your baby will feel more confident too.

Make sure that your sling/carrier fits you well by making sure that your baby feels lighter in the carrier than in your arms & the weight is so evenly distributed around your body that you can’t feel it in any one particular place. Your baby should be snugly held against you, to protect their airway & ensure that their weight isn’t pulling away & causing pressure on your neck, shoulders & back. They should be held high enough on your body, that you can kiss the top of their head.

They Are Uncomfortable

Try to make sure that your baby is well supported in your sling/carrier. They should have their knees higher than their bottom & their bottom tucked under (think sitting in a deck chair, rather than perching on a barstool). Baby’s back should be well supported in their natural curved position, like a soft J shape.
Make sure your baby isn’t hungry, tired, in need of a nappy change, or any of the other more obvious things that they could be upset by.

Once you have a bigger baby, 3-4m & up, you may find they want to see a bit more of what is going on around them. Try adjusting your sling/carrier to open the area around their face, flipping the shoulders on your stretchy wrap, for example, to increase their field of vision. If they have good head & neck control & are beginning to work towards torso control, try allowing baby to have their arms out over the top edge of the sling/carrier. This allows them to turn their torso & look around them (they should still have support up to their armpits). At this stage, you may find a hip/side carry helpful too.

They Don’t Like The Sling

This is not a common one at all. Most babies do not care how they are held, they’d be happy to be in your arms 24 hours a day, as long as they have a warm body to rely on, but a very small minority* of babies have incredibly strong opinions about which sling/carrier they want to be carried in. These babies may need to try a different brand or type of sling/carrier – if you think your baby falls into this minority, do get in touch & we can help you look at alternatives. *I met approx 3 babies from the 400+ families we helped in 2019, that seemed happier in a different sling/carrier.

It’s more likely that you are uncomfortable/unsure, or not keen on your sling /carrier & your baby is picking up on this. If this rings true for you, get in touch! There are SO many options, & part of my job, is to help you narrow them down. If you want, or need, to carry your baby & would like to use a sling/carrier to do so, I can help you find one.

It’s Unrelated to The Sling/Carrier

Try to practice with your sling/baby carrier when your baby is calm & happy, they are not due for a feed, or a nappy change. Make sure that you are both as well rested as possible. As discussed above, babies don’t like change, but if all of their other needs have been recently dealt with, they should settle quickly, once you get them in the sling/carrier & get moving.

If You Need Help….

I would be more than happy, if needed, to help you identify or solve the issue. You can book a Consultation (Online/In-Person) or come to a Drop-In (once they’re back up & running).