Why carry your baby? - Because b
abies need to be carried

From the biological point of view human babies are so-called 'clinging youngs', like apes. They are born immature and cannot walk and follow their mother shortly after birth like foals or calves. But unlike kittens or rabbits, who are also born immature, they need to stay with their mothers to feed often.

Whereas young apes can cling to their mothers by grasping her hair with hands and feet human babies cannot do this and need to be carried. If they are left on their own they will cry because they feel abandoned and cannot know that their mother will come back - instead a predator might come. So it's a completely natural thing for your baby to cry when put down in a crib, cot, on a blanket or whatever, because he'll naturally feel frightened. Seen on the evolutionary timescale we aren't that far away from the stone age where there were lots of animals who liked a little baby for a snack. And your little baby cannot know that he or she is protected by thick walls and that there are no predators around, s/he has to learn and experience that first.

The most basic needs of a newborn are:

  1. food (well, that's obvious)
  2. warmth (temperature regulation doesn't work properly yet)
  3. feeling of secureness and being protected

The fascinating thing is that a mother can fulfill all these needs by carrying and breastfeeding her baby. Her breasts provide the food, her body provides the warmth and in her arms her baby will feel secure and protected. Isn't that wonderful?

So why use a sling or baby carrier?

Carrying your baby is the most natural thing to do - but your arms will hurt after a while and you won't be able to do much else when carrying a baby around in your arms.
Using a baby carrier or sling you will be hands-free and can do a lot of things while fulfilling your baby's need for being close to you. There are more advantages to babywearing which I have listed on the page about benefits of babywearing.

By the way, scientists have proven that carrying a baby in a sling is more economical for the mother than carrying the baby in her arms because she needs significantly more energy to actively hold her baby (Wall-Scheffler et al. 2007). The first baby slings can be dated back 15,000 years and probably humans have used slings for much longer before that. In contrast prams and pushchairs are not even 200 years old.


References:

C.M. Wall-Scheffler, K. Geiger, and K.L. Steudel-Numbers: Infant Carrying: The Role of Increased Locomotory Costs in Early Tool Development; Am. Journal of Physical Anthropology 133 (2): 841–846 (2007)

 

 


© Mirjam Brockmann 2009