The Benefits of Baby Wearing
As it gets closer to my due date, I am getting more and more curious about the benefits of babywearing. Is it just a trend or are there benefits?
When a baby is "worn" or carried in a sling or other form of wrap it is called "babywearing." It has been practiced for centuries around the world. In recent decades it is becoming more and more popular in the United States. It is one of the principles of attachment parenting.
Medical professionals agree that babies thrive through touch and contact. “Wearing” your baby is a way to meet this need. Infants who are carried are calmer because all of their primal/survival needs are met. The caregiver can be seen, heard, smelled, and touched. In turn, parental rhythms (walking, heartbeat, etc.) have balancing and soothing effects on the infant. Studies have shown that babies who are carried, are generally happier and healthier.
Parents who “wear” their babies generally feel more confident and in tune with their baby's movements, gestures, and facial expressions. Babywearing leads to a closer maternal bond and easier breastfeeding, thus lowering postpartum depression rates. When a parent is able to read their baby's cues, they become more confident. This form of cuddling up close is a great way for your baby to get to know you.
There are numerous types of baby wraps/slings on the market. Parents who use them feel that once they get over the initial learning curve, they offer an exceptional level of comfort. Parents who have back or neck problems prefer this method of carrying baby. The fabric is selected to support your child’s weight and mold around your body. They can be adjusted to your body shape. The child’s weight is pulled into your body, helping to keep your back straight.
Wrapping offers almost an unlimited number of carrying positions. Babies can be held cozily in a front carry, upright or slightly reclined from birth. Once baby is able to sit up unaided, your baby sling can be used as a hip carrier. At around 9 months to a year, back carriers bring a whole new sense of freedom and comfort. Wraps/Slings are safe, comfortable and versatile. They can be used as a nursing cover to breastfeed discreetly, a play mat, a blanket, and a changing mat.
Keep safety in mind if you do try a baby wrap/sling and learn to use it properly. You want to make sure your baby can breathe. Their chin should never be curled against your chest and their head and face should never be covered with fabric. Make sure you do not engage in activities such as jogging, running, or jumping. Soft baby carriers do no provide protection in a car. Always use a car seat when riding in a vehicle. Carriers need to be appropriate for baby’s age and weight. Breast feeding and babywearing support groups are often great sources of support for parents on this topic.
Jocelyn Debick, Director accessAbilities First Step Early Intervention
- BA in Early Childhood and Elementary Education, Carlow University, Pittsburgh, PA
- Infant Mental Health Graduate Certificate, Chatham University, Pittsburgh, PA
Experience includes 25 years in Early Intervention, Early Childhood Education; advocate high quality early care and education services
accessAbilities First Steps Early Intervention provides a variety of home-based services for children ages birth to age 3. These services are designed to foster learning and growth during the most important developmental stages as well as provide support for the family as a whole.
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