So you are considering baby wearing? As a new mom or dad, your life has gotten exponentially busier now that you have a tiny human to care for. Baby wearing allows you to go about your day with ease while providing your infant the nurturing closeness they need.
By strapping your baby to your chest in a sling or carrier, you’ll have the ability to cook, clean or tackle other tasks hands-free as your baby snoozes or gazes up at you contently.
Baby wearing promotes bonding and gives you an extra set of hands. It’s a parenting hack new moms and dads won’t want to miss. Give it a try – your baby will thank you for it!
What is Baby wearing?
Baby wearing is an instinctive parenting style where a baby is held close to the parent in a sling or pouch for a substantial part of the day. It allows a busy parent the freedom to continue their normal daily routine while providing the richest and most desirable environment for their child.
Social conditioning has led parents to believe that if a baby is held or carried too frequently they will be spoilt, clingy or demanding. Modern research reveals quite the opposite. The physical and psychological benefits associated with baby wearing encourage children to feel secure and content and build a solid sense of self-esteem.
Baby wearing calms fussy babies and helps decrease the occurrence of postnatal depression. The close proximity of the baby enables parents to respond to ‘non-crying’ signals, which results in less frustration and stress and most of all… less crying.
Baby wearing not only promotes an intimate connection between parent and baby, it is hailed as one of the most important factors in the healthy physical, intellectual and social development of infants. It promotes good digestion which is believed to greatly eases the distressing symptoms of colic and reflux.
Babies worn in slings are less clingy and tend to initiate separation much earlier than babies less frequently held. It allows them to be AT the centre of activity not THE centre of attention, which is a wonderful environment proven to stimulate brain development and cognitive learning.
ALL babies are born ‘pre-mature’, that is they are unable to move or feed alone. Baby wearing allows a baby to complete its ‘extero-gestation’ period needed for the proper development and health of the infant.
The benefits of baby wearing
Baby wearing enables the mother to be acutely aware of her baby’s cues and signals and heightens her perception of her child’s needs. A study published in the Pediatrics journal found that baby wearing reduces crying and fussiness by up to 51%, with parents feeling more competent and nurturing toward their children.
Being in close physical contact with a parent provides a baby with a rich learning environment where all of their most important needs can be met – food, warmth, love and touch.
Babies who are carried learn more, stimulating brain development and expanding their future learning potential.
Baby wearing also:
- Increases cardiac output, improves circulation, promotes respiration and aids in digestion.
- Provides the exact level and kind of stimulation an infant requires, energising their nervous system and creating a quiet, calm alertness in the infant.
- Decreases the levels of stress hormones circulating in a baby’s blood stream, resulting in a more relaxed, happy baby.
- Develops the muscles needed for the infant to sit, stand and walk.
- Enhances motor skills by stimulating the baby’s vestibular system (balance organs) by exposing the baby to a variety of sights, sounds and motion.
- Offers easy access to the infant’s food source – mothers’ breast milk, without having to stop or sit down.
Frequently carried babies fall asleep quickly and will usually sleep deeper and for longer periods of time in the comfort of their sling. Babies worn in slings feel safe and secure which helps to foster a solid sense of self.
What To Wear?
It’s important to research your options and choose a carrier that is best designed for your baby’s body – surprisingly not all popular brands of carriers protect the baby’s back and hips.
Front pouch type carriers are usually guilty of this, you’ll often see the baby legs are dangling down (especially when they face outwards, they should face into you). A baby’s legs should look like they are sitting in a seat, not hanging if they are good for baby’s hips.
How to Safely Practice Baby Wearing
To safely practice baby wearing, follow these tips:
- Make sure your baby can hold their head up steadily before trying any baby wearing device. Their neck muscles need to be strong enough to handle the movement.
- Always follow the instructions for your specific baby carrier to ensure its fitted properly for your baby’s age and size. A carrier that’s too loose or positioned incorrectly could be dangerous for your little one.
- For the first few times, have someone with you to spot you. Baby wearing can take some practice to get comfortable with, and an extra set of hands is helpful.
- Start slowly and pay attention to your baby’s cues. Some babies love being worn, while others prefer less stimulation. Look for signs your baby is content like cooing, gazing at you, or sleeping peacefully. If they seem fussy or upset, take a break and try again another time.
- Ensure your baby’s airway is open, their face isn’t covered, and their legs and hips maintain a “M” shape. Their back should remain supported in a natural position.
Stay active and go about your usual activities. Baby wearing allows for hands-free bonding while still accomplishing everyday tasks. Go for a walk, do your thing – your baby will love experiencing the world from your perspective.
With the right baby carrier and by following the important safety guidelines, baby wearing can be an extremely rewarding way to bond with your little one during these early months.
What are the alternatives?
Baby wearing allows for hands-free bonding with your little one, however some babies prefer less stimulation than constantly being carried. Some popular alternatives to baby wearing include:
Strollers are a common way for parents to transport babies on walks or errands. However, strollers do not provide the closeness and bonding that baby wearing does. Your baby is more detached, and it can be difficult to soothe or nurse them if they are upset. Strollers also require constantly watching the path ahead and maneuvering, which can detract from interacting with your baby.
Car seats keep babies safe in vehicles but do not allow for bonding outside of the car. Your baby is strapped in facing away from you, limiting face to face interaction and physical closeness.
High chairs, contain babies during mealtimes but isolate them from caregivers. Your baby cannot see you or interact with you as easily. They are confined to one spot, unable to cuddle or be soothed if fussing.
Playpens and cribs provide a safe space for your baby during play or sleep but significantly limit interaction and bonding. Your baby is separated from you, unable to feel your warmth, see your face, or hear your heartbeat. Crying babies cannot be comforted as quickly and physical affection is challenging.
In contrast, baby wearing keeps your baby close, allowing for bonding through sight, sound, smell, and touch. Your baby can see your face, hear your voice and heartbeat, feel your warmth and snuggles, all while being gently lulled by your movements. For newborns, this closeness helps with development and for older babies, it makes them feel secure while exploring the world. Simply put, baby wearing provides benefits that alternatives cannot.
BellyBelly recommends you read about these brands: The Best Carriers And Slings
To find out more about babywearing, you can read BellyBelly’s article:
Babywearing Safety Tips