This post is the first in probably (hopefully!) a large number about how to continue doing attachment parenting/natural parenting/etc. when presented with the unique challenges of a child with Down syndrome. I hope it's helpful to you!
So I was devastated when I read online and had it confirmed by our physical therapist that our soft structured carriers-our Ergo and Boba-would not be appropriate for our son with Down syndrome. But I was determined to find a carrier that would work for our son. I believe babywearing is great for all babies, but especially for babies with Down syndrome. Being close to their mama (or daddy) in a carrier or wrap stabilizes or improves heart rate, growth, and breathing patterns and decreases the incidence of ear infections, reflux, and sleep apnea, all of which babies with Down syndrome are more prone to getting than typical children (This great article cites studies for each of those amazing claims!) And it allows parents freedom to keep their special needs babies close and still go anywhere and do just about anything. When you know the average predicted walking age for your child is 2 years old, a piece of gear that allows for increased mobility and freedom for you can be a godsend! To figure out what would work for our son, I talked to two friends who recently received their physical therapy degrees, plus our own physical therapists. I researched hip dysplasia and Down syndrome generally. You'll want to of course take your child's strengths and weaknesses and invidividual health concerns (and your own) into consideration when deciding what will work for you. For our son, here's what we came up with:
- Hip dysplasia Babies and toddlers with Down syndrome are more prone to hip location than babies in general, so it's extra important to use a carrier that supports out to the knee, thereby spreading the baby's weight away from his or her hips.
- Stretchy wraps A Moby Wrap, Boba Wrap or other stretchy wrap is an excellent choice for a newborn with Down syndrome. They are easy to use once you get the hang of them and are very easy to get baby in and out of. They are good until baby is about 15lbs or so.
- A Baby K'tan is a great stretchy wrap hybrid carrier-no tying needed- that was actually created by the parents of a baby with Down syndrome!! It is tested as safe for babies up to 42lbs, but most reviews I've seen say it is most comfortable for babies under 15-20lbs like traditional stretchy wraps.
Babies and toddlers with Down syndrome present some extra challenges when carrier shopping. But in almost all cases you should be able to find a carrier that fits your lifestyle and your child's strengths and challenges, so you can snuggle your sweet baby almost whatever you do and wherever you go.
What type of carrier is your favorite for your child?
I'm not a medical professional or physical therapist, and I've never met your child. I hope this information helps you find a carrier that's right for you, but please consult your child's care team and use common sense and motherly intuition to adapt or ignore my suggestions to fit your child's needs!
Graphics used with permission of the International Hip dysplasia Institute
Some product links are Amazon affiliate links, which means your product doesn't cost any more to you, but I get a tiny cut of Amazon's profits!