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What is Babywearing?

There is nothing in the world that compares to having your baby in your arms – the feeling of your sleeping child against your chest, the sweet smelling downy head under your nose. These are moments every mother holds dear in those early newborn days. But life goes on, there are errands to run and things to do. Babywearing allows a busy parent the freedom to continue their normal daily routine while providing the richest and most desirable environment for their child. It is an instinctive parenting style where a baby is held close to the parent or caregiver in a sling or baby carrier. While babywearing is not a new concept in many parts of the world, it is rapidly gaining popularity in western cultures. So, what are the benefits of babywearing?

The Benefits of Babywearing – for Babies

Emotional Benefits:

  • Less Crying means a Healthier Baby

Babywearing tells children that they are loved, safe, secured and cared for. Studies have shown that the more babies are held, the less they cry.

One study found that allowing babies to cry unnecessarily alters the nervous system by flooding the developing brain with stress hormones and adrenalin. This sets up a pattern of over sensitivity in the baby which may predispose them to stress disorders in adulthood.

  • Happy, Calm and Content

After birth, a baby held in a sling will feel reassured by the presence of their mother’s body rhythms. The familiarity of her heartbeat, body temperature, body smell and breathing patterns will create a smooth transition from womb to world. A randomised controlled test reported in Paediatrics showed that carrying babies reduces crying and fussiness 43% during the day and 51% at night.

Cognitive Benefits:

  • Babies in a Sling Learn Better

A happy baby is quiet and alert. In this state of mind, he is ready to interact with people and his environment. Babywearing offers babies the optimum position to experience the richness of the new world around them within the safety of a parent’s arms.

  • Baby is on Your Level

A carried baby shares equality with its caregiver as it physically on the same level. A baby in a pram has less equality and experiences the parent looking down on it.

Physiological Benefits:

  • Babywearing Stimulates a Baby’s Physical Development

The act of touching a baby actually stimulates growth hormones.

Babywearing also stimulates a baby’s vestibular system, the parts of the inner ear that work like levels or sensors to control the body’s sense of balance. The stimulation regulates a baby’s physiology, increasing their cardiac output and circulation and promotes respiration.

  • Sling Babies are Stronger Babies

Developmental neurologists have discovered that the child of a mother who moves every day while pregnant shows clear developmental advantages. This is the same with a carried child who also develops greater physical and nerve strength.

  • Sling Babies Sleep Better

Holding a baby in a sling for the majority of the day encourages the development of a baby’s sleep/wake cycles. Babies begin to distinguish external cues which help to develop a baby’s circadian rhythms. Babywearing promotes deeper, longer and more peaceful sleep cycles, vital for brain maturation.

  • Babywearing Makes Breastfeeding Easier

Babywearing offers constant and easy access to the infant’s food source, the mother’s breast. Such ease of access allows a mother to feed her baby on demand rather than follow unnecessarily strict feeding routines, thereby reducing the potential of breast infection.

The increased skin to skin contact enjoyed by babywearers also stimulates breastmilk supply.

  • Babywearing Helps Digestion and Eases Colic

Baby slings and carriers afford a baby a more upright position which promotes digestion. A baby’s tummy is massaged through the act of babywearing which also promotes bowel elimination. The acupressure points against problems of digestion or sleep, which are located on the belly and on the lower insides of the thighs, are automatically massaged through babywearing.

The Benefits of Babywearing – for Parents and Caregivers

  • Happy Baby, Happy Mama

A parent is likely to feel more at ease and confident and able to enjoy their new baby when he/she is settled. Baby carriers offer skin to skin contact which stimulates levels of the mothering hormone Prolactin which increases a mother’s desire to hold and nurture her baby. Dads can also enjoy carrying their babies, thereby extending his baby’s in-utero experience.

  • Babywearing Helps You and Your Baby Communicate

Good parent-infant bonding gives the parent greater confidence and develops their intuitive sensitivity. This heightened perception allows parents to read their baby’s cues and anticipate their needs and moods. This increased sense of control promotes a calmness which can actually be sensed by the baby – a calm parent actually smells different!

  • Babywearing is Healthy for You!

A good carrier offers parents hands-free freedom, allowing them to enjoy an active lifestyle indoors or outdoors. Parents’ muscular strength also develops in relation to the baby’s growing weight.

  • Babywearing Reduces Risk of Post-Natal Depression

Babywearing helps parents balance their needs with those of their baby. Baby carriers help prevent life becoming completely dictated by baby. This sense of personal freedom and flexibility may well reduce the potential risk of post-natal depression which is often associated with being housebound and missing out on much-needed social interactions.

  • So many fantastic reasons to baby wear. Why oh why did I not know about these? I did breastfeed and really loved the closeness from that, often cuddling long after they had finished feeding. So good

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  • I just love being able to wear my daughter when we are out and keep her close

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  • My boys all differed some liked it and some did not!

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  • i love this! babies would feel so safe being next to you like this

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  • A great read thank you. I loved baby wearing…..until the munchkins got so heavy!!

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  • most of the carriers also help to distribute the weight of the baby better too

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  • I love babywearing…. my boy is now 19 months old & doesn’t like being confined but will sometimes still jump in the carrier.

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  • My kids loved travelling this way

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  • always preferred carrying my children to pushing them around, yes its more tiering, but still love it

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  • I couldn’t wear my baby for long. Too heavy for me! But he never really cried much anyway when we were out and about!

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  • I love carrying our Naughties in the harness as I love the closeness and warmth of their little bodies against me and they quite easily fall asleep this way, it makes shopping a whole lot easier on my own (one in the trolley and one in the harness) and they’re great for when we have limited space to get the double pram around!

    I wonder though, what research this article refers to? Some reference information would be good and would help to validate the points being made — after all, this appears to me to be a clever article promoting the benefits of babywear by someone who owns a company that supplies babywear products. Can all of this information please be backed up with credits to wherever these studies and stats came from?

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  • thank you sharing this article good read

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  • baby wearing, a beautiful concept however boy babies tend to grow out of it very quickly, within weeks.

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  • thanks for sharing was a great read

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  • Interesting – thanks for sharing.

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