A common complaint of new parents is that their baby just won’t let them put her down. She’s been fed, burped, and changed, but still she wails every time they try to put her in her crib. A simple solution to all this: Babywearing.
Babywearing is the practice of holding your baby close to you throughout the day by keeping her in a sling, wrap, or baby carrier. Although it’s not very common in America, in many other parts of the world it is commonplace and has been for millennia.
Benefits of Babywearing
Physical Development-A newborn baby benefits from being held close to you. By hearing the rhythmic beating of your heart, and your rhythmic breathing, a newborn’s breathing and heartbeat can actually be regulated as well. According to Pediatrician and parenting book author Dr. William Sears, “Simply stated, regular parental rhythms have a balancing effect on the infant’s irregular rhythms. Babywearing “reminds” the baby of and continues the motion and balance he enjoyed in the womb.”
Mental stimulation-One of the many benefits of babywearing is that your baby will get more mental stimulation. By carrying him around all day, he sees everything you see. He gets to watch the world from his perch in your arms, rather than by laying in a crib all day. He sees how you interact with people and learns from that too.
Less crying-Being held by you will make your baby cry less. You’ll become more in tune with your baby’s needs and be able to take care of him as soon as he starts crying.
More independent later on-Holding your baby close to you, and comforting him when he cries, gives him a sense of trust and security. He trusts that his needs will be met by the people who care about him, and that makes him feel more secure. That translates into a more independent person later on in life. A baby who is left to cry, and made to feel like he has to fend for himself, may be more dependant and clingy.
You can get more done-You can use the computer, cook (as long as it doesn’t involve knives or being close to an hot stove), clean, take care of other children you may have, talk on the phone, and more, all while carrying your baby. You can even breastfeed in a sling if you position your baby right.
Dad can take part in it just as much as mom-Dads feel left out sometimes when it comes to caring for a baby, especially if mom is breastfeeding. Babywearing can give you a chance to bond with your baby. Babywearing keeps a baby close to your chest, and hearing your heartbeat is comforting to a baby. Also, your baby enjoys your unique style of walking.
Convenience-If you want to run out of the house for something you can simply slip your baby in a sling and go rather than lugging around a big stroller. Or if you’re quickly stopping in a store, it’s easier to get out of the car and put your baby in his sling rather than drag out a stroller, unfold it, strap baby in, and then refold it again when you’re done.
There are certain situations when your baby is better off not in your arms. You should not be wearing your baby when you are cooking over a hot stove, drinking hot liquids, ironing, or using sharp objects such as a knife or scissors. Also, be careful when bending over while you are wearing your baby. Bend at the knees rather than your waist, both for your baby’s and your own safety.
Choosing a Wrap, Carrier or Sling
There are some things to consider when choosing a sling, wrap, or carrier for your baby. Who will be wearing the sling? (For example, if you and your spouse are of very different builds, you will need a sling that accounts for this.) How often, and in what situations (breastfeeding, cleaning, going out) will you be using your sling? How long do you plan on babywearing? (There are slings that last until the toddler years while others are meant just for infants.)
Always check the safety of the type of sling you are buying. In early 2010 media attention was turned to the dangerous nature of some slings. The dangerous slings are those commonly known as “bag slings” because they look like a bag or purse. A general guideline when buying slings is that you should be able to see your baby’s face without having to move aside part of the sling. It should also feel natural and easy, and hold your baby close to your body in a natural position like you would hold her with your arms.
La Leche League International: The Benefits of Babywearing
Ask Dr. Sears: Babywearing
Sewing Baby Productions LLC: Is My Sling Safe?