Want to know a secret?
The benefits of babywearing are HUGE (shush, Bugaboo doesn’t want you to know).
So huge, in fact, that in cultures where babywearing is indigenous, prolonged crying is not even a thing. I’m serious. In fact, crying is barely a thing!
Ok, I’m going to go out on a great big wobbly limb here and say it.
You don’t need one of those eye wateringly expensive baby strollers on Amazon.
Nope. You just need a baby carrier.
Unless of course there’s a practical or medical reason you can’t carry baby of course!
Prams are a modern phenomenon
Prams and strollers didn’t even become popular until the Victorian era – before that we, yes, carried babies. For thousands of years. In fact, parents around the globe used everything from cloths, shawls and scarves to carry their babies and get stuff done.
But as time’s gone on and we’ve become more urbanised, prams and strollers have become the norm in the West (they are pretty much a Western phenomenon btw). Why? I guess because they’re deemed convenient.
Convenient for who though?
In her book, ‘Our Babies, Ourselves’: Meredith Small says:
Yet today’s parenting ‘guru’s would have us believe giving baby this much attention is somehow ‘spoiling’ them or that babies’ constant demands to be held are manipulative.
This has led to a wave of baby ‘experts’ encouraging mums to get baby sleeping through the night, self soothing in the buggy and fixed interval feeding asap. It’s a bit like baby boot camp.
And all this in tandem with the powerful face of advertising that suggests you really, really need that latest ergonomic stroller. Did you know a Bugaboo Chameleon is pushing £1000 in the UK! I’m bug eyed thinking about it.
It’s hardly a surprise we’re losing touch with many of our natural parenting instincts.
Instincts these ‘expert’ opinions and powerful adverts only serve to erode.
Instincts that want us to trust our age old maternal wisdom to hold and respond to our babies’ cues. Not resist them.
In terms of my own experience, I’m not even sure I meant to babywear as much as I did. But I lived in a third floor flat when I gave birth and there was no way I was lugging a buggy up and down the stairs every time I forgot the milk! So I bought a sling. And once I used it I was hooked. It instinctively felt right. And that’s the voice we should listen to.
In fact, I credit my sling with quick bonding and a happy, contented baby that cried far less in the sling that out. Oh and me not falling down three flight of stairs! That’s what I call a result.
Here are 10 amazing and proven benefits of baby wearing:
10 Amazing Benefits of Babywearing
1 – BABYWEARING PROMOTES BONDING
Frequent contact with your baby is very important for secure bonding between parent and newborn. Contact not only stimulates the mothering ‘feel good’ hormone oxytocin (kind of like a free (and safe!) happy drug), frequent carrying also encourages and speeds up the development of a mutual reading of each other’s cues.
2 – BABYWEARING REDUCES CRYING
A study of mother-infant pairs discovered that carrying babies at least three hours a day reduces crying and fussing 43% during the day and 51% at night. Babies love contact – it helps meet their primal survival needs and makes them feel happy and safe (that oxytocin happy drug again!). And babies that feel safe have less reason to cry.
And get this – anthropological studies of cultures where babies are carried for much of the time and sleep next to their mothers, have shown that prolonged crying simply doesn’t happen. (I highly recommend reading the Continuum Concept for more on this).
3 – BABYWEARING ENHANCES LEARNING
Carrying a baby helps promotes cognitive development and speech development, since babies are exposed to more experiences and conversations. Being carried means they are involved in Mum and Dad’s world – baby is actively participating in life, rather than just being a spectator.
In fact, according to Dr Sears, the quiet state of calm alertness, typical of babies in a sling, is considered an optimal state for learning.
4 – BABYWEARING HELPS BALANCE BABIES’ SYSTEMS
The womb environment helps keep babies systems in balance. At birth, however, this balance is temporarily disrupted. Babywearing helps regulate the your baby’s system again.
For example, the rhythmic pace of Mum or Dad reminds baby of the womb experience and hearing the gentle heartbeat against Mum or Dads chest immediately calms baby.
5 – BABYWEARING HELPS BREASTFEEDING
If you choose to breastfeed, babywearing is a incredibly discrete and comfortable way to do it. Wring slings and stretchy baby wraps are good choices for comfortable and discrete breastfeeding. You can always opt for a breastfeeding/nursing cover too if you like!
6 – BABYWEARING SAVES YOU MONEY
A comfortable baby carrier, wrap or sling doesn’t need to cost a lot of money (unlike that £1000 Bugaboo!). The sling I used (a Mei Tai like these) cost under £50 and I used it for 3 years. If you’re handy with a sewing machine (not me!), you could even make your own.
7 – BABYWEARING MAKES TRAVELLING EASIER
Babywearing is incredibly practical when you go out. I used to jump on and off buses or trains without the need to lug a bulky stroller on board, or worse, have to wait for the next bus in the rain! It’s easier in a car too, as a baby sling is much lighter and easier to transport around than a bulky baby stroller.
Babywearing is also really handy for noisy places like stations, airports, supermarkets and big cities. Babies can get very overwhelmed in places like this. So popping them in a sling helps them transition better. They not only feel more safe and secure, they are also able to judge better what’s going on from Mum’s actions and expressions.
8 – BABYWEAING HELPS BUILD CONFIDENCE
Let’s face it, being a new parent can be overwhelming! Holding your baby in a sling helps you quickly bond with your baby and get more attuned to their subtle movements, cues and needs. This not only helps you quickly sense what baby needs, it also helps baby to quickly build trust in you. No one knows baby like you do after all.
The release of oxytocin from mother and baby contact can also benefit those at risk from postpartum depression.
9 – BABYWEARING IS GREAT FOR ALL CAREGIVERS
As baby gets a little older, baby wearing can also be a great way for grandparents and other caregivers to bond with baby and form strong attachments of their own.
10 – BABYWEARING HELPS PREMATURE BABIES
Premature babies are born with very fragile nervous systems.
Babywearing helps calm and regulate these fragile systems and research has even shown that premature babies, who are held, gain weight faster than babies who aren’t.
A Final Word on The Benefits of Babywearing
Babywearing has been natural part of motherhood for thousands of years and in cultures where baby wearing is indigenous, prolonged crying is almost unheard of. Even if you still decide to by a pram or stroller when baby is born, why not supplement with a sling or baby carrier for around the home and when you pop out?
Wearing your baby for extended period throughout the day is not only a fantastic way to connect with your newborn, it’s practical too and means you can still get stuff done with baby contentedly sat snug against your chest.
Another fantastic way to connect with your baby, of course, is to co-sleep. Whilst it’s not for every parent (or baby!), it often goes hand in hand with babywearing and attachment parenting. So if you want to try co-sleeping, there are some great recommendations for the safest co sleeper baby beds over at ThinkBaby. You’ll also find lots of really helpful info and tips on the best baby gear and furniture brought to you by 3 dedicated and brand new mums!
Want To Know How To Choose a Baby Carrier?
If you want some practical (and easy to follow!) advice on the different types of baby carrier available and which ones are best for newborns, here’s my post about choosing a newborn baby carrier.
Do you babywear? What are your thoughts? Share them below…!