We LOVE babywearing!! It’s nice to have multiple carriers. It seems like some days it’s easier to use one or the other. We have three carriers:
- an ERGObaby Original (pictured),
- an Infantino Mei Tai
- and a pouch sling (We used the pouch sling just once when Ain was a newborn. After reading about babywearing safety, we decided not to use the pouch sling again.)
7 Great Benefits of Babywearing
1. It’s convenient
When I “wear” a baby, my hands are free to do other things like carry groceries, cook a meal, fold laundry, etc. It is far easier to navigate a crowded shopping area without the hassle of carrying a car seat. You can easily take a walk to the store and pick up the items you need as well! Strollers are sometimes convenient, but they are often just something bulky to carry around when you are not using it. Plus, it’s much easier to walk up the stairs or onto a bus with a carrier than navigate those areas with a stroller.
2. It develops secure emotional attachment.
Babies are often calm in a carrier because it mimics the closeness of the environment your baby knew in the womb. Research shows that a baby who is held, can hear his caretaker’s heartbeat, and look into their face is secure in the knowledge that they are warm and safe. They are not flooded with the constant stress hormones accompanied by frequent crying. Carrying a baby and walking through everyday tasks creates rhythmic movements that can lull the baby to sleep. Often I’ve found a carrier can put my baby to sleep when all other methods have failed.
3. It promotes physical development.
When babies are worn in a carrier close to the body, they become in tune with the parent’s heart rate, smell, movements, and breathing rate. This helps regulate the baby’s own physical responses and helps to establish his sense of balance. There is also evidence that contact like this helps premature babies put on weight and gain improvements in health. These results do not happen from the swing or bouncy seat. (Don’t get me wrong, there is a time and place for a swing or bouncy seat.)
4. It supports cognitive development.
In carriers, babies are right up where the action is. They see people and places as you see them and go through your day. As babies observe a parent cooking, folding laundry, talking with others, etc. it stimulates their brain and quiet, alert learning. Think about this way – are you more likely to talk to a baby that you are carrying, or a baby that you are pushing in a stroller in front of you?
5. It is a great way to get back in shape postpartum.
You have to carry your baby anyway. When you wear them in a carrier it distributes their weight more easily and encourages you to be a little more active. Google “Babywearing Workout” and you will see a great workout!! **Note: I did not start wearing Ain until 2-3 weeks postpartum. My husband took the opportunity to wear our son. At about one month postpartum I started going on walks wearing him.
6. It is a great way for dads, grandparents and other caregivers to bond with baby.
This way, babies can get accustomed to the way their daddy’s voice, how he smells, and his heartbeat. This is a great way for family members and other caregivers to bond with baby (if Momma can give him up!). As I hinted to above, my husband has enjoyed wearing Ain as much as I have. He started early on when I didn’t have the strength and has continued. My husband is awesome, isn’t he? Nothing like seeing your baby in your husband’s arms! Sigh.
7. Helps mom with postpartum blues.
Holding your baby close to your body in a carrier allows you to feel secure that your little one is eating, sleeping, and breathing well (without having the constant stress of having something in your arms). Early on it’s easy to hold your little one, but as they gain weight and get squirmier, it’s nice to have them in the carrier.
Having your baby right there makes it easier and makes it more likely for you to having loving, physical contact with your baby – which releases oxytocin and strengthens the bond between mother/father and baby.
Having a newborn in a carrier will help deflect strangers from touching your baby or offering to hold your baby. You can have an easier time keeping all those germs away from your newborn.
If you’re worried about babywearing safely, there three main rules you need to know.
1. Make sure there is an open airway for baby. A newborn baby’s airway is the size of a drinking straw, so if it is bent/kinked, it can cause breathing distress. An easy way to check is by making sure you can fit two fingers between your baby’s chin and chest to ensure an open airway. The pouch sling we used once made me a little nervous, so I did some reading up on it. Mothers – trust your instincts!! Pouch slings, or bag slings have a flat bottom and two sides that converge. This could close the baby in and possibly restrict air flow. So make sure you are positioning your baby well in it. It may work for you, it may not.
2. Don’t drop your baby. Read the manual and be safe about putting your baby in the carrier and take him out. Once you get the hang of it, it’s not too bad. With a newborn it’s pretty hard to do on your own. But once baby can hold his head semi-well it becomes so much easier to put him in the carrier by yourself.
3. It is best for baby’s comfort and development to wear baby facing in. Yes, you can wear your baby facing out – but please don’t do it! It looks so uncomfortable for the baby. First, it is not supporting the baby’s head, or treating the baby’s back very well.
The best position for you baby is upright, facing wearer (can be on front, back, or hip) with knees higher than bottom so that the legs and hips look like the letter M. Baby’s head should also be high enough to kiss (for front or hip carries). Ideally the fabric of your carrier will come all the way to the back of your baby’s knees.
**NOTE: Newborns can be worn legs-out from birth; they just make a teeny tiny M and their knees will come toward your ribs, rather than their legs straddling your waist as an older baby’s would. If you want to do the legs-in way, the positioning is exactly the same. The baby’s weight should be in his bottom so if he tries to push down on his feet and stand up in your carrier, it’s time for legs-out. Baby’s knees should be bent – straight legs are bad for baby’s hips!
If you want to read more on why NOT to wear your baby facing out, read this article.
Also, here is my source for the babywearing benefits and safety.
© 2013, Betsy Pool. All rights reserved.