Babywearing – or keeping your baby secured to your chest or back using a fabric wrap or carrier – was once limited to the free-loving minority. You know, the ones who consider shoes an optional accessory, along with showers and deodorant.
But fortunately parenting philosophies have taken a recent shift toward all things crunchy, and wearing your baby is suddenly en vogue with the child-bearing masses.
If you are new to the babywearing game, or new to babies in general, you may be wondering what all the hoopla is about. What is so great about keeping a tiny human strapped to your chest, anyway?
The most obvious benefit to wearing your baby is the closeness you achieve. Many studies have shown tremendous advantages to keeping your little one close, preferably with skin-to-skin contact, in the days and weeks immediately after birth – higher breastfeeding success rates, reduced crying, and better heart rates and temperatures (source: Babywearing International).
But there is so much more to babywearing beyond the immediate physical advantages:
Easier to Breastfeed. Many babies nurse almost constantly as newborns (mine did!) or during growth spurts, and even when feedings space out a bit your baby becomes heavier, meaning your arms and back can get pretty worn out from constantly holding up her little head to nurse. Letting baby nurse in a sling or wrap means you can give your body a well-deserved rest and still meet your baby’s needs. Plus you are making your milk readily available, which encourages your baby to nurse often.
Rest for your Arms. H was one of those babies that just did not want to be put down. Which meant I was holding her for hours upon hours, day and night, for several weeks. And my body was still recovering from birth. My Moby Wrap was a life-saver for me on those days when I just needed a break.
Ability to Get Things Done. Let’s see, what have I been able to accomplish while wearing my baby? Doing laundry. Making dinner. Cleaning the apartment. Knitting. Exercising. Yoga. Grocery shopping. Christmas shopping. Reading a book. Going to the bathroom. Eating a meal. The list goes on… Like I said before, H was just not going to let me put her down so the only way I was going to function was if I could hold her and do the things I needed to do at the same time. Since I do not happen to have 4 arms, wearing her in a warp or carrier was an obvious decision. (*Use extreme caution when cooking or cleaning while babywearing. More on safety later this week*).
Sleep-Inducing. The thing about putting your baby into a wrap or sling is that it mimics their previous home, your womb. The warmth, the sound of your heartbeat, the smell of your skin…all of these things contribute to making that wrap or sling one of the most ideal sleeping environment for a baby. I vividly remember sleepless nights with H, when the only thing that would soothe her crying was putting her into the wrap. And not only soothe her…put her instantly to sleep.
Baby H napping while hiking with mama!Closeness for Dad. Let’s be honest. Most dads don’t get to experience the closeness that we mothers do in the weeks after birth. Babywearing allows dads to keep their little ones close in a way they otherwise would not be able to experience. And it gives mom a much needed break.
Better Mobility. Even as your baby grows, you will still find that wearing him can be much more convenient than trying to deal with a stroller. Now that H is big enough to see over the top of our Ergo Carrier, she rides comfortably on my back. It takes literally seconds to strap her in, and I don’t have to worry about pushing a bulky stroller through busy aisles in the supermarket. And she is much happier being close to me.
“Busier” Babies. If you are familiar with baby-expert Dr. Sears, then you probably know he’s a huge advocate for baby-wearing. He argues that babies who are carried in a sling not only cry less and therefore have more time to learn, explore and grow their minds. And I believe it. When H is in her wrap or carrier, she is much more observant of her world than if she is sitting in her stroller. She watches and listens. Dr. Sears calls this “quiet alertness” and I notice it most distinctly when H is in her carrier. (source: Dr. Sears)
Maybe you are in the camp that believes babywearing is only for hippy-dippy, granola-munching types. But hopefully like me you’ve noticed that sudden surge of baby-weraing paraphernalia being marketed in the mainstream baby industry. Big box stores like Babies R Us, Buy Buy Baby and Target now carry the most popular baby carriers and wraps (usually Ergo, Moby and Bjorns). I find it encouraging because even more moms (and dads) are realizing the benefits (both practical and emotional) of wearing your baby.
♥ The Midnight Mama