Babywearing is nothing new, in fact, it has been around for centuries in most cultures. Since the “baby-boom” age here in the west, it has become more of a “study” versus something natural. Meaning, researchers began to study infant crying and wanting to learn why they cry and how to soothe them. However, despite the research – one thing that has always stayed strong with keeping a baby calmer and more secure is babywearing. While babywearing has died down in western society over the past few decades, it is finally making a comeback!
What is Babywearing?
Very simply – babywearing is the practice of wearing your baby and/or toddler in a sling, wrap or carrier. There are so many products on the market today to support your desire to wear your baby. That said, even though it is an old tradition, it does take some time to get used to. In fact, it isn’t exactly easy for every mom – but it packs a lot of benefits.
Let’s go through some of the biggest benefits that babywearing has to offer.
- Keeps baby feeling safe, secure and settled with you mama – which is where they want to be. When you hold your baby close to you they feel secure, knowing their needs will be quickly met. Newborns don’t understand when you put them down as you go about some chores and other household things, that you will be right back and can still get to them when they are hungry or need a diaper change. Some newborns will be easier than others, but all infants eventually learn that you will, in fact, come back. This is why you often hear moms with a newborn saying, “my baby never wants to be put down!” Well – because they don’t! Does it mean you cannot ever put them down? Of course, not – we need to eat, shower and get things done but just know that in these early days, you may find yourself wearing your baby a lot more than you anticipated!
- Supports breastfeeding – by helping mom to recognize early signs of hunger more easily and can begin to nurse her baby without the baby crying. This awareness of learning your baby’s needs and cues will increase bonding and your confidence as a mama!
- Supports physical development – physical contact with young babies aids the healthy development of their brain. Infants carried regularly also have more stable heart and breathing rates. They are in a state of quiet alertness – which helps them to grow and learn better.
- Helps support spinal, pelvis and hip development – it keeps spine and legs in optimal position for growth. Laying flat too much or in a device keeps them in an unnatural posture, however while carried – the tiny physical adjustments that they have to make to the movements of carrying, help to develop their muscle tone and sense of balance.
- Helps their social development – because they are upright with you and can see the world around them! They are close to your face and learning from your expressions and responses as they attempt to communicate back. When you talk to other people, your baby is a part of the conversation and shares the experience with you.
Types of Babywearing
- Sling – a long piece of sturdy cloth, worn over one shoulder and across your stomach
Slings are ideal for newborns, as small babies can easily nestle into the fabric. Older babies and toddlers can also “sit” in the fabric like a hip carried seat.
- Wrap – a long piece of fabric, wrapped around your torso and usually over both shoulders
Wraps are very versatile and inexpensive.
- Carrier – a soft padded material that has a more structured seat with two shoulder straps and buckles
These carriers tend to be more ergonomic, so they’re great for outdoor activities and other times when you’re carrying the baby for long stretches.
What about mom?
Babywearing has benefits for you too mama! Being close to your baby not only benefits your baby but you as well. It will increase bonding and can help ease the symptoms of postpartum depression and stress. Wearing your baby also keeps you hands-free. Enabling you to get those chores done around the house that you are wanting to do. I have personally mastered washing dishes and doing laundry with a baby on me, but it takes practice. Note: in the beginning, I recommend getting help for these things so you can rest. Physically, you will benefit too. If worn correctly, it will strengthen your core muscles after those nine months of pregnancy which has no doubt, weakened them.
Babywearing is so amazing for many reasons. But, it is going to be different for everyone and every baby is different. Therefore, I encourage parents to at least give it a try to see if it works for you!
Lindsay is an author, motivational speaker, birth psychology and maternity health specialist & natural mommy blogger for Our Green House.