If you’ve been to a Natal class or workshop before, you’ll know that we’re not about pushing a certain way of doing things or a certain product. We’re about information, options and choice, and we love to explore the babywearing with parents, and just how easy, fun and helpful it can be!
When you book onto a BabyNatal Practical Baby Care class or Colic and Calming class in your area, you can even have a go at babywearing for yourself!
But why are we so passionate to talk to parents attending our classes about babywearing? Because babywearing has some amazing benefits for you and for baby, and here are our top 5…
1. Carried babies are ‘physically’ happier and enjoy more bonding opportunities with their parents.
If you think about how your baby experienced life in the womb, it must have been pretty awesome for them. All their needs were immediately met – they didn’t need to wait for food or to have their nappy changed; they were always nice and comfortable, kept at optimal temperature; they experienced a 100% sensation of touch, and when mum walked around or went about her daily activities they were also rocked or lulled to sleep!
Then one day they’re born, and things change pretty drastically for them! For one, the amount of time they experience a sensation of being ‘held’ and ‘hugged’ drops dramatically. It’s no surprise that the best place for them to be is close to their mum or dad! They can feel the regular rhythm of a heartbeat (something they’re so familiar with!), they can smell their parents, they can experience the sensation of touch and being held again and they can regulate their body temperature (remember that they can’t do that very well on their own yet) through your body temperature. Their heartbeat slows down, their stress hormones decrease, and oxytocin, the ‘love’ hormone, which is so important for maternal and paternal bonding increases in their little bodies as well as in yours. So you can see why lots of carrying = a very ‘physically’ content baby.
That’s right. They cry less (and 43% less crying is a lot!) because they’re close to their parents, and all their primal needs are met – think about their need for warmth and comfort! Being carried is great for their physical and mental development, a bit like kangaroo care and skin-to-skin are. Babywearing is great for their neural development, their gastrointestinal and respiratory health and their balance and muscle development. Have you ever noticed how newborn babies can go through a few hours of fussiness in the early hours of the evening? You’ve fed them, burped them, changed them, fed them again… nothing seems to work. Even holding them in your arms while you’re comfortably sitting on the sofa doesn’t work. But try and pop them in a baby carrier of some sort, and you’ll see them calm down almost immediately, or fall asleep even! It’s not a coincidence – for some parents babywearing proves to be a life-saver during those hours, and it’s reported that crying will reduce by a staggering 54% in carried babies.
3. Carrying babies can make breastfeeding easier
They don’t have to of course, but breastfeeding and babywearing often go hand and hand. It may take some practice at first, but once both the art of breastfeeding AND babywearing have been mastered by mum and baby, a mum can breastfeed on the go without anyone even knowing. Or, a sling or a wrap can simply be used as a cover for discreet breastfeeding in public. Mums who routinely use a baby carrier are more likely to successfully breastfeed as keeping baby close helps mum produce prolactin, that very important hormone for breastfeeding mums. Plus, if a baby suffers from reflux in their first few months of life, being upright in a carrier for some of the time or after a feed can help them ease discomfort.
4. Carried babies learn more from their parents or carers
Because they’re happy and content while close to you and not busy crying, when they’re not sleeping comfortably near your chest, they spend more time in a state of quiet alertness, and they’re more prone to interacting with the person carrying them. They become more aware of their parents’ faces, expressions, the way they walk, what they do etc. They see what their parents see, hear what their parents hear and participate in what they are doing. In a way, they’re more exposed to and involved in what is going on around them, and can learn more and faster about being ‘human’.
Think about the practicalities of carrying your baby in a sling or carrier. Once your baby is safely supported in a wrap, sling or carrier and feeling content, your hands are free for you to carry out some simple tasks around the house. And it goes without saying that babywearing can come in very handy when travelling or running errands around the shops.
As for your back, using a carrier is safer and easier on your back than simply carrying your baby in your arms – considering that up 70% of parents with children under 2 years of age can suffer from back problems from time to time, babywearing can prove a very useful solution for many parents. It also improves yours and baby’s core muscles and posture.
Just be careful of staying away from doing anything that could harm the baby or your back – bending down whilst carrying a baby can be tricky.
To be on the safe side, we recommend that you always follow the TICKS safety guidelines for babywearing:
T for tight. Ensure that the sling or carrier helps you keep your baby as close as possible to your chest. This will be most comfortable and safe for both you and your baby.
I for in view at all times. As you look down at your baby you should be able to see your baby’s face straight away.
C for close enough to kiss. Your baby’s head should be as close to your chin as is comfortable.
K for keep the chin off the chest, to ensure that breathing is not compromised.
S for supported back. Your baby should be held comfortably close to your chest so that their back is supported in a natural position.