Babywearing is catching up in the western world and for a good reason. When pregnant, movement is easier. As much as there is lots of waddling that’s supposed to be walking, both mommy and baby walk as one unit. There are no diaper bags and change of clothes to carry.
After deliver though, a mother needs to be an ‘octopus’ if she needs to achieve anything. Her hands are no longer enough. Movement is restricted as mommy has to think of how to hold or push the baby in a stroller while still picking the freshest apples in the grocery store.
Carrying the baby in your hand or pushing them around may be good for toning your arms, but there is not much else you can do with those arms.
What’s a mother supposed to do? How about babywearing then? Let’s look at what it is and the benefits it comes with for parents and their babies.
What is babywearing?
Babywearing basically refers to carrying your baby on your body with a wrap or anything else that leaves your hands and arms free.
Babywearing is not an entirely new phenomenon. Mothers have been wearing babies in Africa and some other parts of the globe for centuries.
Special wraps or carriers are used to secure the baby onto the caregiver’s body. These wraps may be normal scarfs, breathable shawls, or specially made carriers.
Consider the safety of the baby in the choice of baby carrier. I would advise ensuring that all buckles are working and any knots made are tight.
Benefits of babywearing
Babywearing calms fussy and restless babies
I wore both of my babies and in all honesty, I had calmer babies. They didn’t cry too much. And most parents who wear their babies share my sentiments.
Dealing with a baby that screams when put down can be utterly frustrating if you need to do any other activity.
Next Read:5 Ways To Burp A Baby That Won’t Burp
Working while wearing your baby is just as good as putting her in an automatic baby rocker. Your movements as you go about your duties are calming to the baby. And sometimes, those rhythmic movements may help the baby fall asleep faster.
Baby wearing reduces the stress levels in a baby which results in a calm, relaxed, and happier baby.
Baby wearing promotes fitness for the parents
As a new mom, it can be quite hard to fit a consistent workout regime. There is so much to get done, yet a day only got 24hrs!
However, if you learn the art of baby wearing, you can exercise with the baby. Walking, personal training, and kanga training are some of the exercises you can do while wearing your baby.
You get to lose weight gained during pregnancy, while at the same time, your baby will fall asleep from the long walk you just had.
More is achieved when wearing a baby
It’s a no-brainer that when the hands are free, the parent is able to do more around their environment. Have a garden you need to attend to? Simply wear your baby and get moving! Plants don’t have to die for lack of water because you have a newborn.
Wearing the baby is one way that mothers who work from home are able to perform their (light) duties around the house.
This is particularly helpful for the parent who has other children who still need help with something around the house.
Baby wearing helps to increase your breastfeeding success
Once you get the hang of it and learn to tie your baby securely, they can breastfeed discreetly from inside the wraps.
Since you and your baby are skin to skin, you improve your chances of increased milk supply. In addition, when wearing your baby, you are able to demand feed, thus maintaining your supply.
The closeness to the breasts and the possible smell of milk keeps the baby alert when they are hungry. The mother is also able to recognize the very first signs of hunger.
This ‘close communication’ between the baby and the mother increases their bonding and the parent’s confidence.
Helps fight reflux and colic
Babywearing can be life-saving for babies who are prone to reflux. Babies who suffer from reflux need to stay upright for 15- 30 minutes.
This might also not be the best time to put clothes in the washer, the baby needs as little movement as possible.
If you’re wearing a baby who has milk reflux, try sitting still or doing activities that require little movement. Now would be a good time to finishing reading that book that you have been sneaking to read form the toilet.
Aids proper development of the skull and spine
Carrying a baby correctly encourages the normal development of the skull, the back, and muscles responsible for posture.
Staying too long in car seats, prams, or baby swings is likely to develop some positional deformities. The pressure placed on the baby’s head from lying on one side may cause squaring of the head.
In extreme cases, there may be some spinal deformities.
It reduces the risk of developing postpartum depression
All mothers experience some degree of baby blues after delivery. Some cases may get severe leading to post-partum depression or post-partum psychosis.
A walk in the park, socializing over a cup of tea or coffee may help keep the blues away.
Wear your baby and enjoy the sun together. The effortlessness of not having to push a pram or wear your arms out with a wiggly neonate is soothing.
And the vitamin D from the sun is good for their development.
Keeps people with ‘itchy fingers’ away
There’s something about a baby’s cheeks that makes people want to touch them. And hold their tiny little finger as they coo at them.
Having your baby right at your bosom will prevent people from wanting to touch them. Of course, some may still want to attempt.
Wrapping a light shawl(depending on the weather) over the baby keeps them warm and away from prying eyes and itchy fingers.
Baby bonds with everyone in the family
Babywearing is not a reserve for mom only. Everyone in the family should have their turn with the baby. From the dad, older siblings, grandparents and even the caregiver!
This way, the baby gets to bond with every member of the family.
There are some awesome baby wrap carries that are cool for dads. I had three different baby wrap carriers with my two babies.
Here is why you also need more than one baby sling. Remember that time you wanted to wear something only to realize its dirty? I didn’t want that with the baby wrap carrier.
Promotes parent-infant attachment
Wearing the baby is one of the approaches used by the proponents of attachment parenting. Keeping the baby close to you gives them the assurance that they are loved.
The physical contact with the baby helps them calm down and sleep better. This facilitates brain development.
A calm baby translates to a calm parent who is able to rationally relate to the baby. A content parent is also able to correctly interpret the baby’s cues. This helps strengthen the relationship between the baby and the parent.
Baby carriers, wraps, and slings are affordable
There is a baby wrap carrier, sling, and wrap for every budget out there. A lot of moms consider baby carriers to be the most useful and economical purchases for their little ones. And if you are a crafty mom, you can sew your own baby sling.
Does wearing your baby count as tummy time?
Yes, it does. Most infants hate tummy time and parents often force it on them. Tummy time is supposed to help your baby exercise and develop their neck, head, and back muscles.
Babywearing keeps the baby’s head upright. The baby is also able to move their head from side to side as they take in their environment. This helps strengthen their muscles in the same way that tummy time would.
Related Article: Baby Hates Tummy Time? 6 Ways To Fix This
Totally convinced you need to start baby wearing? Before you order for a carrier for your baby, it’s important that you carry out proper research on the best brand of carrier for your little one. Read this article on how to choose a baby wrap carrier for a baby to be informed.
Paluszynska DA, Harris KA, Thach BT. Influence of sleep position experience on ability of prone-sleeping infants to escape from asphyxiating microenvironments by changing head position. Pediatrics 2004; 114: 1634-1639.
Montague A. Touching: The Human Significance of the Skin. New York, NY (1971): Columbia University Press.
Current knowledge about skin-to-skin (kangaroo) care for pre-term infants”. J Perinatol. 1991 Sep;11(3):216-26.