New-born babies want to be near you and our instincts tell us to keep them close, however, our busy and demanding lives can make this exhausting, we can look back to our elders for a solution to this….. one word: babywearing!
Babywearing; the act of wearing or carrying your baby with the help of a special carrier has been around for centuries. Nomadic people used to wear their babies to travel with them more effectively. Families in Africa, Mexico and many other parts of the world still to this day use specialized fabrics or traditional carriers. In the past couple of years, this tradition has gained popularity and that is because carrying your baby provides the best of both worlds, a loving way to hold your baby and the convenience of hands-free parenting.
Whilst there are a variety of child-rearing theories, researchers all agree on one thing. For a baby’s emotional, intellectual and physiological symptoms to function optimally the continued presence of a Mum or a caregiver is a significant influence.
See below a few recognised benefits to babywearing:
- Babywearing can increase bonding due to the close nature of the child and caregiver allowing them to be more in tune with the infant by keeping them close and safe.
- Carrying your baby can help keep you healthy and strong, the sheer act of carrying them around for a few hours gives you a lot more exercise than you imagine at a time when the thought of a gym may horrify you!
- Breast-feeding whilst your baby is in their carrier can be incredibly discreet, it may take a little practice, but once you get the hang of it, you get to nurse without anyone even noticing, especially if you carry in a ring sling or a wrap.
- Babywearing has been shown through research to decrease the risk of postpartum depression due to more skin-to-skin contact and a boost in confidence which can help with the transition into motherhood, enhancing a new mom's overall mental wellbeing. Plus, babywearing can help you break social isolation by making it easier to take a walk, stay active or meet some friends.
- Carrying your baby close has been known to help to regulate temperature, heart and respiratory rates, which can be especially useful for premature babies.
- Babywearing can facilitate meeting the infants' physical needs both emotionally and socially whilst allowing parents and babies to constantly shape one another’s behaviours. The baby sees what the mother or father sees, hears what they hear, and in some ways feels what they feel. This cycle of positive interaction due to sheer closeness increases learning and enhances the attachment between parent and child.
- The joy of carrying a baby is that anyone can take them out for a stroll for an hour to give you time to catch up on that much-needed sleep.
- Babies with colic or reflux can be hard to soothe, but the motion and upright position gained from being in a sling and gently rocked in a sling while the parent/carer walks may help to settle them, and also the parent/carer may feel less helpless. There is no evidence to suggest that babywearing reduces colic/reflux itself.
- Evidence suggests that the more babies are held, the less they cry and fuss. A study in North America discovered that infants who received at least three extra hours of supplemental carrying cried and fussed 43 % less than the non-carried group and 51 % less in the evening hours.
- And finally, slings can be more economical as they cost far less than strollers, front-carriers or backpacks so a win-win!
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