Ergonomics and advice when using the Stokke® MyCarrier
From August 2015, The international Hip Dysplasia Institute (IHDI) acknowledges the Stokke MyCarrier as a "hip-healthy" product. The IHDI recognizes that Stokke has developed products that consider the importance of healthy hip development during infancy. This is especially important during the early stages of hip development in the first few months after birth. The IHDI recognize specific products as “hip-healthy” to help educate the public.
Author: Paediatric Physiotherapist Vibeke Smith Aulie
Front Carrying Inwards.
Stokke® MyCarrier was developed to ensure that your baby is carried in the best possible way. It provides good support for the back and neck. In addition, the design ensures optimal positioning for the hips with support under the thighs so that the hips assume a «human position». The thighs are raised and bent at an angle of 80-100° (flexion) and turn outwards at an angle of 40-60° (abduction) . Being carried in a flexed position, with the legs turn outwards at the hips (flexion/abduction) to ensure that the ball of the hip is correctly positioned in the hip socket, is really good for the development of the hip joint in infancy.iv
From birth, the baby is carried facing its parents so that there is good interaction between the parents and the baby. In this position, there is optimal support for the infant’s back and hips. The head is also well supported in this position.
Babies really enjoy the close contact they have with their parents when they are in the Stokke® MyCarrier®. They are tucked safely into the harness, can feel your heart beating and they are being moved, which makes it easier for them to settle. Stimulation of equilibrium (vestibular stimulation), is an effective way of calming your baby . When parents who carry their baby are moving about, they are stimulating postural control in their baby’s body, ie. the baby’s posture/position in relation to the surroundings, stability and orientation. iii
Carrying babies is becoming increasingly popular in the western urbanised world, but this can become static for the baby over time as opposed to other cultures where mothers carry the baby all day while doing physical work. For optimal motor development, babies require a variation in position. It is important, therefore, to let the baby change position from being carried to lying on a mat, in the pram or the cot. When awake, babies should spend a lot of time lying on their stomachs to stimulate and strengthen their arm, back and neck muscles.
Front Carrying Outwards.
Once the baby is bigger and has good head control, the baby can face outwards when being carried. The baby will derive much enjoyment from looking about, but it is important for the parents to be observant. For example : Over stimulation can occur with too many sensations such as unfamiliar people approaching them in a shopping mall or airport. Very young babies should be spared too much unfamiliarity. However, babies that are being carried will be able to cope with a more unfamiliar environment than babies that are sitting in a pram and that are facing away from their parents. Physical closeness always helps to make the baby feel secure.
Young children develop gross motor skills and become stronger and more robust. When the baby can hold its head unaided, it is then safe to turn the baby and have him/her sit facing outwards. In most babies, this occurs from four months+. The hips are better developed then, so that babies with normal hips can sit in a narrower position than the «human position». In this position, MyCarrier also provides good support under the buttocks, and the hips are still bent and turned outwards.
When the baby grows and becomes heavier, it will be more comfortable for the parent to carry the baby on their back. This ergonomically-designed harness is easy to use. When the baby is able to sit unaided, you can start using MyCarrier to carry the baby on your back. The harness has an optimal ergonomic design and provides good support for your baby’s back and thighs. When the baby wants to sleep, there is a head support, which can be attached to provide stability for the head.
When carrying the baby, you need to be aware of the baby’s body temperature. In cold climates you will need to dress the baby appropriately, and maybe even carry the baby inside your jacket so that the baby benefits from the parents’ body heat.
Some babies may have undiagnosed hip dysplasia (congenital dislocation of the hips). It is important therefore that when newborn are being carried in the harness that their hips are in the «human position». In cultures where mothers carry their babies on their hips and backs, there is a decreased incidence of hip dysplasia.iv
MyCarrier is roomy and can also be used for babies who are being treated for hip dysplasia with a Frejka pillow/Pavlik harness. It is still safe to use the harness once the Frejka pillow/Pavlik harness are no longer necessary, but it is recommended that the baby be turned inwards the first time it is used to facilitate optimal positioning of the ball of the hip in the hip socket.iv
i Erin S. et al.: Ortopaedics Nursing March/April 2006, Volume 25. Number 2
ii Spedbarnsalderen; revised and extended edition by Lars Smith and Stein Ulvsund
iii Horak and Macphearson, 1996. : “Motor Control; Theory and practical application”. Second Edition. Anne Shumway-Cook 2001(p. 164)
iv Physical Therapy for Children, fourth edition by Suzann Campbell 2012(pp. 425-426)