Hi there! I’m a happy, excited and fulfilled working mom to a very healthy, happy and active baby boy born last December 13, 2014.
This blog is about one of my newest discovery in the journey of motherhood – Babywearing!
Babywearing is the practice of wearing or carrying a baby in a sling or in another form of carrier. This is a practice that has been around for centuries. Recently, babywearing is gaining popularity among modern/new generation parents. I, personally, is a staunch advocate of proper babywearing since I have firsthand experience of its benefits.
- During Cloud’s newborn stage, he loved being worn in our ring sling. Scientist says that being worn (or in a sling) gives baby the feeling of comfort and security that he experienced while still inside the womb. No wonder Cloud made a habit of falling asleep while in the sling. I can vividly recall the times that when he is cranky, all I have to do is put him in the sling, let him latch and within minutes, voila! My baby boy is fast asleep.
- As Cloud grows, babywearing became our constant companion. Our ever reliable Tula Soft Structured Carrier had been with us as we travel to different places in the country.During travels via plane, our baby carrier provided not only convenience but also comfort and security. Instead of adding a bulky stroller to our baggage, I just wear Cloud and we’re good. During take off and landing, I just make sure that he is safely tucked in and there’d be no fuss. No crying, no drama. Just a baby quietly enjoying his flights.
- Babywearing allows us to attend parties and soirees without worrying what we will do and where we will put Cloud when he falls asleep. We can even do hassle-free trips to the supermarket. We once went to the supermarket without putting Cloud in his carrier and while it seems funny now, I was over my head when it happened. He kept running down the aisle, picking up things not in our grocery list and removing what his Daddy and I already put inside the basket. That time, I badly regret the decision not to bring a carrier.
- It allows us our own bonding time. With babywearing, I can make every moment I spend with my child a special one. It allows me to easily kiss and cuddle him. When he gets cranky and “wild”, especially now that we are entering our “terrible two” stage, I just have to put him in our carrier and whisper soothing words and tell him that Jesus doesn’t like what he is doing, he starts to calm down.
Many parents are into babywearing, not because it is a bandwagon, “in” thing but because it is a normal thing to do. Children belongs right next to their parents. They deserve to be carried, kissed and hugged as often as it should be. A lot of scientific studies and researches has been conducted to show the benefits of babywearing.
Dr. William Sears, a renowned pediatrician, has pointed out the following scientific based benefits of babywearing:
- In the wearing of newborns in particular, the mothers’ oxytocin levels are increased through the physical contact with the infant, leading to a more intimate maternal bond, easier breastfeeding and better care, thus lowering the incidence of postpartum depression and psychosomatic illness in the mother; similarly, the father carrying the baby has benefits for the paternal bond.
- Infants who are carried are generally calmer because all of their primal/survival needs are met. The caregiver can be seen, heard, smelled, touched, tasted, provide feeding and the motion necessary for continuing neural development,gastrointestinal and respiratory health and to establish balance (inner ear development) and muscle tone is constant.
- Parental rhythms (walking, heartbeat, etc.) can have balancing and soothing effects on infants.
- Infants are “humanized” earlier by developing socially. Babies are closer to people and can study facial expressions, learn languages faster and be familiar with body language.
- Independence is established earlier.
- Attachment between child and caregiver is more secure.
- Decreases risk of positional plagiocephaly (“flat head syndrome”) caused by extended time spent in a car seat and by sleeping on the back.
In The Natural Child Project by Laura Simeon, MA,MLIS,she discussed the following benefits of babywearing :
1. Wearing a baby is convenient.
When we carry a baby in a sling, we can walk around freely and not have to worry about negotiating steps, crowds or narrow aisles with a stroller. Plastic “baby buckets” and removable car seats are heavy and awkward for parents, babies often look uncomfortable, and they are kept at knee level. A sling can block out excess stimuli when breastfeeding a distractible baby, and it allows for discreet nursing in public places. A sling can also double as a changing pad, blanket, or cushion when away from home. I’ve found my sling especially handy when negotiating busy airports with a small child and several bags!
2. Wearing a baby promotes physical development.
When a baby rides in a sling attached to his mother, he is in tune with the rhythm of her breathing, the sound of her heartbeat, and the movements his mother makes – walking, bending, and reaching. This stimulation helps him to regulate his own physical responses, and exercises his vestibular system, which controls balance. The sling is in essence a “transitional womb” for the new baby, who has not yet learned to control his bodily functions and movements. Research has shown that premature babies who are touched and held gain weight faster and are healthier than babies who are not1. Mechanical swings and other holding devices do not provide these same benefits.
3. Babies worn in slings are happier.
Studies have shown that the more babies are held, the less they cry and fuss2. In indigenous cultures where baby-wearing is the norm, babies often cry for only a few minutes a day – in contrast to Western babies, who often cry for hours each day. Crying is exhausting for both the baby and his parents, and may cause long-term damage as the baby’s developing brain is continually flooded with stress hormones.3 Babies who do not need to spend their energy on crying are calmly observing and actively learning about their environment. Baby-wearing is especially useful for colicky babies, who are far happier being worn, but placid, content babies and children will also benefit greatly from the warmth and security of being held close.
4. Baby-wearing is healthy for you!
It can be challenging for new mothers to find time to exercise, but if you carry your baby around with you most of the day or go for a brisk walk with your baby in her sling, you will enjoy the dual benefits of walking and “weightlifting”. A long walk in the sling is also an excellent way to help a tired but over-stimulated child fall asleep.
5. Toddlers appreciate the security of the sling.
Slings are usually associated with infants, but they can be very useful for toddlers as well; most slings accommodate children up to 35 or 40 pounds. The world can be a scary place for toddlers, who feel more confident when they can retreat to the security of the sling when they need to do so. Toddlers often become over-stimulated, and a ride in the sling helps to soothe and comfort them before (or after!) a “melt-down” occurs. It can be very helpful in places like the zoo, aquarium, or museum, where a small child in a stroller would miss many of the exhibits.
6. Baby-wearing helps you and your baby to communicate with each other.
The more confidence we have in our parenting, the more we can relax and enjoy our children. A large part of feeling confident as a parent is the ability to read our baby’s cues successfully. When we hold our baby close in a sling, we become finely attuned to his gestures and facial expressions. Many baby-wearing parents report that they have never learned to distinguish their baby’s cries – because their babies are able to communicate effectively without crying! Every time a baby is able to let us know that she is hungry, bored or wet without having to cry, her trust in us is increased, her learning is enhanced, and our own confidence is reinforced. This cycle of positive interaction enhances the mutual attachment between parent and child, and makes life more enjoyable for everyone.
7. Slings are a bonding tool for fathers, grandparents, and other caregivers.
Slings are a useful tool for every adult in a baby’s life. It makes me smile when I see a new father going for a walk with his baby in a sling. The baby is becoming used to his voice, heartbeat, movements and facial expressions, and the two are forging a strong attachment of their own. Fathers don’t have the automatic head-start on bonding that comes with gestation, but that doesn’t mean they can’t make up for this once their baby is born. The same goes for babysitters, grandparents and all other caregivers. Cuddling up close in the sling is a wonderful way to get to know the baby in your life, and for the baby to get to know you!
8. Slings are a safe place for a child to be.
Instead of running loose in crowded or dangerous places, a child in a sling is held safe and secure right next to your body. Slings also provide emotional safety when needed, so that children can venture into the world and become independent at their own pace.
9. Slings are economical.
Slings cost far less than strollers, front-carriers or backpacks. Many mothers consider the sling to be one of their most useful and economical possessions. Inexpensive used slings can be found in consignment and thrift stores, and new ones can be bought for about $25 -$50 (U.S.) – not bad for an item many parents use daily for two years or more! A sling can also be sewn for the price of a length of cotton, some rings and batting; sling patterns are available.
10. Baby-wearing is fun.
Who doesn’t love to cuddle a precious little baby? And when your baby is older, having her in the sling makes conversations easier and allows you to observe her reactions to the wonders of the world around her. It’s also fun for baby, because when she is up at eye level, other adults notice and interact with her more. Your child will feel more a part of your life when she is in her sling, and you will find yourself becoming more and more enchanted with this special little person.
Overall, baby wearing is simply LOVE in another form. If you haven’t given it a try yet, you should. You should also join babywearing support groups and communities. It’s a lot of fun.