Benefits of Babywearing

There are lots of benefits in babywearing, both for babies and parents. Some are more practical, some are emotional.

When you carry your baby...

...you are more mobile.

Carrying your baby instead of using a pushchair has many advantages. With a pushchair obstacles like stairs or narrow doors are difficult to manage, if not impossible. With your baby in a sling you can go practically everywhere. Some more situations where babywearing makes your life easier than having a pushchair:

Public transport: Too many pushchairs or a wheelchair in the bus already? With your pushchair you'll have to wait for the next bus. And can you fold your pushchair while holding your baby? With my pushchair I cannot.

London Tube: Few lifts, crowded escalators (if any), full trains. Why go there with your pram?

Shops: Lift not working or non-existent? Escalators very narrow and dangerous to use with your pushchair? And of course the things you want are not on the ground floor?

Shops with narrow aisles: Your pushchair blocks access and you'll have to apologise all the time.

Sightseeing: Want to enjoy the view from that church tower? You won't get baby up there in her pram.

Travelling: When you're flying you usually can take your pushchair to the gate. But often you need to carry the pushchair downstairs to get the transfer bus (the stairs-problem again) and usually you get it back only with your other baggage. Also in the plane you can take your baby in the sling (once you are in the air) so you'll be hands-free and needn't hold him all the time.

Festivals: Have you ever tried to push a pushchair over a bumpy meadow? Of course it depends on your pushchair, but usually it's hard work. Also in a crowd it's hard to move with a pram. So why not use a sling?

Snow: When there is snow and you have a sturdy pushchair with 3 or 4 wheels then you're probably ok, but if you only have a buggy it's really hard work to push it through the snow. Even with my Bugaboo it's near impossible because all the snow sticks to the small wheels so they get blocked. It's so much easier to use a sling instead!

...you can involve your baby in your normal life.

You need to go shopping, you need to cook, you need to clean the house, you need to walk the dog (or maybe the horse) and certainly do other chores as well. But what if your baby doesn't like being in her cot or rocking chair? Of course you could do lots of things while he is sleeping, but when will you have a break? Using a sling you can do a lot of housework while your baby is happy. And when he's sleeping you can enjoy at least some time for yourself.

    

If you have a toddler you'll certainly spend much time chasing after him and preventing bad things from happening. Also your toddler needs some mummy time and cuddles and that's why you need your hands free. Many mums seem to discover the benefits of babywearing when they have their second child. Do you really wonder why?

...you make her transition from the womb in this world easier.

Think about it: For nine months your baby was snuggled up inside you, the temperature was always just right, the noises from the outside were muffled, but she could hear your heartbeat and other body noises well, and in the end it was quite a tight fit. So of course being snuggled up in a wrap or similar carrier feels very comfortable and familiar for her. Again she can hear the heartbeat she's been used to hearing, she feels held tightly by the wrap like she was in the womb and she is warmed by your warmth. Also she recognises your smell and feels very secure.
As your baby grows up she can see more of the world because from the wrap she's got a brilliant point of view. And if all the noise and views of the outside world are getting too much for her she can snuggle in and relax hearing your heartbeat.

...you create a feeling of secureness.

Feeling safe and secure is one of your baby's basic needs (besides food and warmth). If you keep him close to you he'll learn that you are there for him and that you fulfill his basic needs which is the most important thing for him, especially if he's new to the world (in the womb he has had everything he needs all the time). And of course, when you fulfil your baby's needs he will cry less. That's even been scientifically proven (Hunziker 1986).

...you increase her basic trust and create self-confidence.

Fulfilling your baby's basic needs will show your baby that she can trust you. This basic trust is very important for gaining confidence and influences the way a person relates to others all her life. The most important phase for gaining basic trust are the first years of life, and there comes a point when it's too late to gain it.

...you stimulate all of his senses.

Your baby can feel you, smell you, hear your heartbeat and voice even when the surroundings are loud, see your face when he looks up, see the world when he looks around, feel the movement when you're moving - you really stimulate all senses.

By stimulating your baby's senses you support his development too - and you don't even need fancy toys to do it.

(For scientific evidence see e.g. Clark 1977, Gregg 1976, Bonnet 1998)

...you can communicate better with her.

Your baby is much closer to you when she is in a carrier compared to being in a pram or pushchair. Even when you're in a busy street with lots of cars she'll be able to hear your voice and feel comforted by it. You'll notice immediately when she falls asleep (you don't necessarily do when she is in a pushchair - especially when she's forward facing). You'll also notice distress immediately and can react to her much quicker.

...you can bond better with her.

Better communication and more closeness to your baby mean that the bonding between you will be better. This aspect of babywearing is particularly interesting for fathers because for the mother who is feeding her baby regularly bonding is easier and naturally achieved anyway.
By the way, it's been scientifically proven that babywearing increases attachment between mothers and babies (Anisfeld et al. 1990).

References:

Elizabeth Anisfeld, Virginia Casper, Molly Nozyee and Nieholas Cnnningham: Does Infant Carrying Promote Attachment? - An Experimental Study of the Effects of Increased Physical Contact on the
Development of Attachment; Child Development, 1990, 61, 1617-1627

Dr. Eckhard Bonnet: Diskussionsbemerkung zum Tragen von Säuglingen und Kleinkindern ( Points made during discussions regarding the carrying of Infants and small children ) ; Krankengymnastik, 50 Jg. (1998) Nr. 8

David L. Clark, Jeffrey R. Kreutzberg, Francis K. W. Chee: Vestibular Stimulation Influence on Motor Development in Infants; Science, New Series, Vol. 196, No. 4295 (Jun. 10, 1977), pp. 1228-1229

Claudette L. Gregg, M. Ellen Haffner, and Anneliese F. Korner: The Relative Efficacy of Vestibular-Proprioceptive Stimulation and the Upright Position in Enhancing Visual Pursuit in Neonates; Child Development, 1976, 47, 309-314

Urs A. Hunziker and Ronald G. Barr: Increased Carrying Reduces Infant Crying: A Randomized Controlled Trial; Pediatrics, Vol.77 No. 5, May 1986

 

 


© Mirjam Brockmann 2009