THE BENEFITS OF BABYWEARING
Our instincts tell us to keep our babies close, where they are safe and being loved. Our busy and demanding lives however, often do not allow us to listen to our instincts. Using a baby wrap to keep our young ones close while keeping our hands free is a way to make our lives more convenient, while at the same time, allowing us to better meet our baby’s basic needs.
While there are a variety of child-rearing theories, attachment researchers all agree on one thing: in order for a baby’s emotional, intellectual, and physiological systems to function optimally, the continued presence of the mother, one of the most important benefits of babywearing, is a necessary regulatory influence. Babywearing is incredibly helpful in integrating your baby into your daily life. You can interact with your baby throughout the day, breastfeed frequently, and still play with an older child and accomplish adult tasks. It is natural for a baby to be close to their mother and babies are generally happiest when being held.
Here are 15 commonly recognized benefits of babywearing:
- Babies that are worn are happier babies
Evidence suggests that the more babies are held, the less they cry and fuss. A study in North America discovered that infants who received at least three extra hours of supplemental carrying, cried and fussed 43 percent less than the non-carried group and 51 percent less in the evening hours. Babywearing is especially useful for colicky babies, who are far happier being worn. However, placid, content babies and children will also benefit greatly from the warmth and security of being held close. Infants who are carried are generally calmer because babywearing helps meet their primal needs.
- Babywearing increases bonding
When a baby is held close in a wrap, they are often able to let a parent know when they are hungry, bored, or wet without having to cry. This cycle of positive interaction increases learning and enhances the attachment between parent and child. In essence, babywearing allows parents and babies to constantly shape one another’s behaviors. This bonding experience stems from the fact that babywearing parents can help their loved one overcome fears, which helps improve mutual trust and is one of the longest-lasting benefits of babywearing.
- Babywearing helps you and your baby to communicate
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, we become finely attuned to their gestures and facial expressions. Many babywearing parents report that they have never learned to distinguish their baby’s cries – because their babies are able to communicate effectively without crying. Babywearing is a wonderful way to get to know the baby in your life, and for the baby to get to know you.
- Worn babies have the opportunity to learn more
Babywearing also improves learning because the baby is intimately involved in the caregiver’s world and what is going on around them. The baby sees what the mother or father sees, hears what they hear, and in some ways feels what they feel. They become aware of, and learn from, all the subtle facial expressions, body language, voice inflections and tones, breathing patterns, and emotions of the caregiver.
- Wearing your baby helps them adjust to the outside world
It’s easier to understand the benefits of babywearing when you think of a baby’s gestation as lasting eighteen months – nine months inside the womb and at least nine more months outside. By extending the womb experience, the babywearer provides an external regulating system that balances the irregular and disorganized tendencies of the baby. As the baby places an ear against their mother’s chest, the mother’s heartbeat, reminds them of the sounds in the womb. Simply stated, regular parental rhythms have a balancing effect on the infant’s irregular rhythms.
- Babywearing helps an infant’s developing brain make connections
Babywearing helps an infant’s developing brain to make the right connections because they are exposed to, and participate in, the environmental stimuli that the mother selects and is protected from those stimuli that bombard or overload the infant’s developing nervous system. Wearing your baby helps them to intimately participate in what you are doing which helps their developing brain store a myriad of experiences, called patterns of behavior, that help them make important connections later in their development process.
- Babywearing enhances speech development
Babywearing enhances speech development because the baby is up at voice and eye level, and therefore is able to be more involved in conversations which helps them develop listening skills. Babies being worn also often seem more attentive, clicking into adult conversations as if they were part of it.
- Babywearing helps meet an infant’s physical needs
In addition to helping infants develop emotionally and socially, babywearing also meets their physical needs. A baby wrap is in essence a “transitional womb” for the new baby, a baby sling or wrap swaddles them and helps control the movement of their arms and legs. When a baby is being worn, the caregiver can provide feeding and the motion necessary for continuing neural development, gastrointestinal and respiratory health. Research has shown that premature babies who are touched and held gain weight faster and are healthier than babies who are not.
- Babywearing gives comfort and security
Babywearing allows caregivers to be more in tune with the infant by keeping them close and safe. One of the primary benefits of babywearing is that helps an infant feel more comfortable and happy in their new world, which tends to make them less demanding. Normal ambient sounds, such as the noises of daily activities, can frighten or disturb a developing infant. The mother can filter what she perceives as unsuitable for the baby and give assurance and comfort when the baby is exposed to unfamiliar sounds and experiences.
- Babywearing also benefits toddlers
Babywearing is usually associated with infants, but it can be very useful for toddlers as well. The world can be a scary place for toddlers, who feel more confident when they can retreat to the security of the baby wrap when they need to do so. Toddlers often become over-stimulated, and being carried helps to soothe and comfort them before (or after) a tantrum occurs.
- Babywearing helps parents adjust to their new role
Parents also experience a boost in confidence when practicing babywearing. A baby who is content makes a mother feel more competent. In addition, because her baby is close to her she knows what has frightened him or her. She can sense when her baby is growing restless or hungry and can fix the situation before the baby’s complaints become disturbing and upsetting. The more confidence parents have, the more they can relax and enjoy their children.
- Babywearing is convenient
One of the most appreciated benefits of babywearing is that it frees a mother’s hands for day-to-day activities. With the baby tucked in a baby wrap, she will not have to stop what she is doing when the baby fusses or needs reassurance. A few words, a soothing touch, and the baby goes back to being contented. Leaving the house doesn’t require as much preparation either. A sling or baby wrap can be folded up and placed into a purse so that it is readily available for use.
- Babywearing can help keep you strong
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 while doing chores or running errands, you are not only improving your child’s cognitive development but also increasing your strength. Babywearing while walking is also an excellent way to help a tired but over-stimulated child fall asleep.
- Baby wraps have multiple functions
While the main purpose of a baby wrap is to carry your baby, many of which can be used from birth to toddlerhood, a wrap can be used for many other things. Once your baby no longer needs to be carried, many babywearers turn their wraps into a scarf, a blanket and a number of imaginative uses.
- Babywearing is beautiful and fashionable
Besides being practical, wearing your baby, your most precious jewel, is beautiful. They are less bulky, and more fashionable than most carriers. Baby wraps are increasingly seen as a fashionable accessory or even a necessary staple in a new parent’s wardrobe. Arguably, even more beautiful than the wraps themselves, are the relationships that are nurtured thanks to babywearing.
The Benefits of Babywearing
The benefits of babywearing reach far beyond what is discussed here. In recent years, the babywearing trend has been gaining momentum, as parents are seeing the benefits of babywearing over other carriers.