Babywearing with Disabilities

13th February, 2012 / Baby Wrap Tips / 17 Comments

Who out there is babywearing with a disability? I know that babywearing has the potential to make parenting easier, and parents with physical disabilities–as well as parents of children with special needs–can use all the “easier” they can get. But there can be extra challenges to babywearing depending on the disability.

There is such a vast community of babywearers online now, that I am sure we can collect up some stories and create documentation that has the potential to help many others. The “each one teach one” model of spreading help is, in my opinion, still superior to dusty tomes sporting long chains of alphabet credentials…

I have heard mention of several ways that babywearing was used to help with special needs, but was never before now collecting the stories to archive as a reference.  I know that parents on crutches and in wheelchairs have found babywearing easier than handling a stroller.  I know that parents with only one arm or only partial use of the second arm have found success with a carrier that doesn’t need wrapping or buckling–a pouch or pre-adjusted ringsling can be put on over your head with one arm, and then baby can be lifted into it.  I know that wraps have the versatility to be wrapped creatively around babies or children with various kinds of braces or casts.  I know that wearing your baby can improve muscle tone in healthy babies as well as those with special conditions.  And I know that autistic and otherwise sensitive children of all ages have benefited from the closeness and security of being worn snugly against their parents’ chests, while the benefit of babywearing and kangaroo care to babies born prematurely is well documented.

So please tell us if you have any experience with special needs and babywearing. Tell us what worked, what was difficult, what you wish you could have found a solution for. What was the hardest part, and what was easy? What do you recommend or what help do you need that another member of our community might be able to provide.

I love these words from Rachel Coleman’s blog:

We would be her legs. We take her up slot canyons, through coniferous forests and bring her almost face to face with moose. I have pointed out wildflowers and taught her their names as we‘ve hiked to lakes in Glacier National Park. She’s seen the mud pots and geysers of Yellowstone, and yes, she has seen the waterfalls too. In winter, when she was invited up the canyon for a snow day, I wore Lucy on my back as we tromped through snowdrifts that were thigh high!

Click here to buy a wrap. Thank you for your business! This is how I support my family. - Diana ❤️


  • Rae February 14, 2012 at 12:50 am

    I posted about babywearing with disability last year on our local bwi blog:


  • Myles Dear June 19, 2012 at 9:03 am

    Looking for a way to wear my 7-year-old disabled son on the side but facing forward


    I am a dad of a 7-year-old physically disabled boy with cerebral palsy and profound deafness.

    I am looking for a solution to wear him on my left hip, but with him facing forward.
    Only in this position am I able to communicate to him via sign language. This is also the best position for him to communicate to me via eye gaze and facial expression.

    The nature of his CP is that his muscles can suddenly go very stiff, or suddenly go very loose (he is not able to sit up on him own, walk or crawl). Thus, I need a support system that is able to accommodate these motions and keep him safe without him slipping out of the sling.

    I have tried several slings (Mai Tai, Ring sling), and I’m finding that the side-facing position doesn’t work well for us.

    Any help / ideas would be appreciated.


    • Diana June 27, 2012 at 7:47 pm

      Hi, Myles. I think a wrap could certainly hold your son and support him in a hip position but I am unclear on what you mean by facing forward. I can only imagine this working if his legs are straddling you so that he is facing you. Of course he could also look forward from this position. Let me know if that is what you are picturing. You could look into a hip cross carry, poppins hip carry, or robbins hip carry, and see which you feel would offer the best support. Please let me know if that seems like it fits the bill.


  • Rose February 13, 2014 at 2:41 pm

    First, I love your site!!! This is my first time to visit and I really enjoy the unique info presented here.
    Second, I have several health issues, including mild epilepsy/partial seizures (I never collapse but I have dropped things like a cup, etc.). Using a carrier with my baby has helped me because I don’t have to constantly be on my guard for the possibility of dropping him (which has never happened, even when I was most sleep-deprived). I hope this comment helps someone else! 🙂 My son is so clingy at times I can hardly put him down! I love that carrier!


    • Diana February 13, 2014 at 3:32 pm

      Thank you for sharing, Amanda! This is the first time I’ve heard about babywearing from someone with epilepsy and I will remember your comment if anyone ever asks me about this.


  • J April 12, 2014 at 1:37 pm

    I have rheumatoid arthritis and have used wraps almost exclusively with both of my children. I have significant damage to one elbow and limited mobility in my wrists, so there was a lot of trial and error to figure out what worked best for me. Wraps allow me to tailor the carry to my ever changing physical complaints. We mostly back carry. My technique veers on the scary side, I’m sure, but it’s way less dangerous than me trying to carry around a baby when I’m dealing with pain and swelling. If my infant squirms, there’s a real potential for me to drop her. So I’ve learned how to do a quick and dirty wrap job, and then clean it up/tighten it once the baby is comfortable on my back. Thankfully, my kids know better than to wiggle around mama!


  • Rachel Dypsky May 19, 2014 at 12:23 pm

    We love this post about babywearing and special needs! There are so many benefits to babywearing in general, and wonderful therapeutic benefits for children who have all kinds of abilities. At Lift Me Up: Babywearing to Thrive, we give babywearing carriers, free of charge, to families who have children with special needs. We love giving these families the tool of babywearing that not only benefits the child’s development, but also helps the family as a whole.
    Thank you for posting this and getting a discussion started about wearing with special needs. We love hearing people’s stories and learning how it helped them!
    -Lift Me Up: Babywearing to Thrive
    Twitter & Instagram- @liftmeupbaby


  • Anika June 19, 2015 at 11:03 pm

    I am a survivor of osteosarcoma (bone cancer), in my upper right arm. I now have virtually no right shoulder joint, and a fairly fragile right arm. When I was expecting my first child, my greatest concern was how I would be able to hold my baby enough; I felt sick at the thought of my tiny baby spending most of his time in a stroller, etc. Discovering that I could snuggle my baby close in a soft, fleecy pouch was an incredible miracle for us. Without my disability, I probably would not have tried babywearing…and I would have missed out on one of my favorite phases of parenthood! With my second baby, I discovered that (with a little creativity) I could manage wraps and some soft-structured carriers, and babywearing became fabulous!! My babies and I have truly loved the snugly closeness of baby carriers, and in addition to enabling me to better care for my babies ( bad arm and all), I believe it has helped their language development tremendously! We naturally communicate more with each other, spending so much time practically face-to-face!


  • Sarah May 12, 2016 at 4:55 pm

    Hi. I have a [re]fractured right (my dominant) elbow for the 2nd time in my 7 month old baby’s life. I am non weight bearing again for 10 more weeks. I also have permanent limited range of motion in that arm so reaching up towards my face and behind me is impossible. I need help on how to get my baby safely in a carrier. She loves to be eorn but i have to have help getting her in. I’m a stay at home mama so most of the time i have no help. I own wraps, slings, an Ergo and a lillebaby. Any advice? (She likes back carrying the best!)


    • Diana May 17, 2016 at 7:12 pm

      Sarah, sorry to hear about the injury! I mainly use woven wraps, but I asked some babywearing group leaders for advice as they see a lot of different special needs, and was advised that there are a few buckle carriers that might work for you: the old Beco Butterfly 2 which I understand is not sold any longer so would have to be found second-hand, or the Wee or Bjorn One. Since I’m not familiar with the use of these carriers I’m going to go ahead and quote Bonnie, who gave me this info on what she called “harness carriers”: I’m envisioning putting carrier on the front, sitting down on the couch or in the car, putting baby in the carrier, non-weight bearing arm goes through one strap, bounce baby around to the back, then the weight baring arm can be used to slip the chest clip over the head and then slipped through the other shoulder strap. The weight barring side can be loosened or tightening as needed to facilitate the whole thing.

      I hope this helps!


  • Anna November 13, 2016 at 6:45 pm

    Hi I have mild cerebral palsy and expecting my first baby in February. I have a ring sling which will be my around house quick shopping trip that I essentially plan to wear and losen and tighten and put baby in. for long trips I wanted a soft carrier with buckles as I think tying things maybe a difficulty I’m thinking a manduca as it has an insert… Other ideas


    • Diana Rosenfield November 14, 2016 at 10:31 am

      Anna, congratulations! I think your plan sounds good and I wonder if you are able to go to a babywearing group near you for any more in-person help? You can enter your state (or country) here to see if there are any near you, or if you don’t find one, you can let me know where you are and I’ll see if I can find one for you. That way you can try things out in advance with a demo doll 🙂


  • Hannah June 24, 2020 at 1:05 pm

    I am on crutches because of a car accident that broke my pelvis…. I have an 8 week old son, would a baby wrap (such as the beluga baby) be a smart idea for going out in public? Is it okay to be on crutches and wear my baby?


    • DianaR June 24, 2020 at 11:02 pm

      I answered your email, Hannah – basically you should check with your medical team and only wrap your baby if you are safe and not a fall risk. Hoping you heal up fast!


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