Babies are born to be held. They are completely driven by their instincts at this early age and the biological reason for their reflexes and "behaviours" are purely for survival. That's why they look so darn cute! So we can't help but nurture, nourish, protect and smoother them with love!
They need immediate comfort, reassurance and constant body contact so that they learn their needs will be met. This is the underpinning philosophy of attachement parenting, but also just plain common sense. It is clear as day that an infant who has their needs met, feels safe, secure and "attached" to a consistent care giver, they will grow into children with a greater sense of independence, trust and self-esteem; eager to explore the world knowing they have your faithful and loyal support.
There are so many reasons to wear your baby- here are our top five reasons we love baby wearing.
1. Babies are specifically adapted to be carried!
As an Occupational Therapist, my point of view looks through a lense of physical, emotional, psycho-social and spiritual development. The science is there; baby wearing promotes optimal development in all of their areas of health.
How our babies are designed is perfect proof that baby wearing is a natural progression from being in the womb. What happens to their legs when ou pick up a tiny newborn? They go froggy-leg right?! That's how they need to be carried. When a baby is worn safely and optimally, their hips are in an ergonomic position (knees up at approx 100 degrees and spread approx 40 degrees. The rounded back (kyphosis) which is achieved when carrying properly allows the curvature to unfold naturally and grow in strength to facilitate improved self-supported walking. When left lying in a pram or cot for hours on end, they are forced to straighten out much too quickly than intended. Their little palmer reflex- the reflex that facilitates grabbing with their hands is also evidence that they want to hang on to us. Pop your finger in the palm of their hand and watch them automatically curl their fingers around you. It's a primitive reflex showing the very primal and innate need to hold on to us for survival. When they are carrier up your chest, they can hold on, providing soothing reassurance that they are safe and out of harms way. This reflex will then be able to integrate when the time is right.
2. Wearing a baby is convenient.
Completely selfish reason but a parent's mental health is just as important hey! When we carry a baby in a sling, we can walk around freely and not have to worry about negotiating steps, crowds or narrow aisles with a pram. Removable car seats are heavy and awkward for parents, babies often look uncomfortable, and they are kept at knee level, not able to view the world from your perspective and exchange verbal and non-verbal communication.
A sling or carrier can block out excess stimuli when breastfeeding a distractible baby, and it allows for discreet nursing in public places. A wrap can also double as a changing pad, blanket, or cushion when away from home. I've found my wrap to be used as an impromptu picnic blanket, curtain on the car window and a towel for when our little man decides to go have some water play when out and about near the beach!
3. Slings are a safe place for a child to be.
Instead of running loose in crowded or dangerous places, a child in a carrier or sling is held safe and secure right next to your body and in your protection. I can feel confident taking our very active toddler into a busy shopping centre, to a venue or if we're lucky a festival, knowing we can explore things together at our pace and without the risk of him getting lost.
Slings also provide emotional safety; you can meet new people, see new things, venture into new and unknown situations together and close enough to comfort. They are a safe place for babies to sleep too, when worn properly, not left alone in a separate room, in a pram with a cover left in the corner, or left in a car seat. You can feel their breathing, you can see their airways are un-obstructed and you can feel their temperature.
4. Baby wearing promotes breast feeding
Breastfeeding in a sling or carrier can help a mother increase her milk supply by allowing her baby full access to the breast. It is especially great for when a mother is trying to establish a milk supply. Get them up on your chest, skin to skin contact and frequent feeds can all help in your journey to a beautiful breastfeeding experience.
Breastfeeding mothers can breastfeed on the move, and breastfeeding in public becomes less of of an issue (if you were feeling nervous about it) as it can be much more discreet in a baby sling. Making milk on tap for your bubba is key in establishing a great supply and feeding experience.
Struggling to feed a tiny or early baby? Research shows that premature babies gain weight faster when they are held and touched more often, which is what wearing your baby will accomplish, thus helping to get the feeding going a little more easily for you both.
5. Baby wearing is good for parents and caregivers health too!
Baby wearing promotes bonding and secure attachment with your baby. It can help father's feel more close with their babies, especially in those early days when they do feel a little helpless! They can help grandparents, other carers and loved ones to also feel they are contributing and are able to express their love and affection for the new baby. Parents who adopt and foster can also give testament to bonding more quickly with their babies when they are held closely.
Baby wearing can help with overcome some of those overwhelming and completely natural feelings of anxiety as a new parent. On a personal note, I experience and see so often, new parents completely shell-shocked by the arrival of a completely dependent and precious newborn. Anxieties and fears you never knew where there often surface, and post-natal depression is more common than we all care to admit. Baby wearing can help manage this massive transition. Holding them close, being able to observe them constantly, keeping them protected and safe with you can help bring those feeling of adequacy, content and confidence that we all hope for as new parents.
What's not to love about baby wearing really?
We at Eco Child actively promote and encourage baby wearing and is gives us great joy to help parents find a baby wearing solution so that they can wear their babies safely and confidently. It really is a privilege for us.
Please don't hesitate to to contact us with any questions, pop in to try on our huge array of carriers, wraps and slings, or make a time for a Skype session if you're not a local.
We'd love to hear your favourite reasons for baby wearing or if this ancient practice has helped your journey in parenthood somehow.
Happy Baby wearing!