Benefits of Babywearing

There are far too many good things about babywearing to list on one page, but here’s a few of the ones we think are most important for us.  All of the benefits below apply to any of our recommended carrier types and positions, but not necessarily to other baby-carrying devices.

Benefits for Baby – many of these benefits are supported by research evidence so if you’re interested please ask us for more information:

Settled, safe, secure + comforted: Baby is exactly where they want to be – with you!  Because you’re so close, they’ll feel safe and secure that their needs are able to be met.  They will be comforted by the rhythmic movement of your breathing, heartbeat and walking, and find it easier to settle and to sleep safely.  Caring physical contact with young babies aids the healthy development of their brain and babies who are carried regularly have more stable heart and breathing rates, spend less time crying and more time in a state of quiet alertness.  And so all of that energy that isn’t wasted on crying and fussing can be spent on growing, learning and thriving instead!

Good head, spine, pelvis and hip support to aid optimal physical development: When carried in a recommended carrier type and position, Baby’s spine and legs are fully and comfortably supported in the most optimal position for healthy spine and hip development.  They are not lying on a flat or rigid surface that could hold them in an unnatural or uncomfortable posture, and the tiny physical adjustments that they have to make to the movements of carrying help to develop their muscle tone and sense of balance. Being carried in an upright, tummy-to-tummy position in a sling or carrier can be a great alternative to ‘tummy-time’ for a baby, promoting healthy development of the upper body muscles and reducing the risk of ‘flat head’ problems (positional plagiocephaly).

Upright position can help colicky symptoms: Being held in an upright position with the gently pressure of your body against their tummy whilst being gently moved helps Baby to digest more effectively, and to more easily keep down what should stay down and to get rid of whatever’s causing discomfort.  Babies who are carried regularly tend to be more settled during the day, and sleep better at night.

Part of the social & physical world around them: Baby is being held at the level that things happen at!  They can see your face, learning from your expressions and responses to their own first attempts at communicating. When you talk to other people, Baby is a part of the conversation and shares the experience with you.  Baby is also in a great position to see and hear the physical world around them – if they want to.  With all the new things they are experiencing, Baby could be easily over-stimulated so it’s just as important that they can choose to turn away from it all if they want to or when they get tired.

Benefits For Parent – some of these are supported by research evidence, and all are supported by the practical experiences of millions of parents around the world and throughout history:

Close to baby: You are always close to your baby and they can snuggle into you in a lovely permahug! Being in close proximity to your baby has been shown to aid parent-baby bonding and to ease symptoms of post-natal stress and depression. The more you hug your baby, the happier it makes you! And holding your baby close to you using a sling or carrier has also been shown to improve breastfeeding outcomes too.

Aware of and can easily monitor baby’s changing needs and wellbeing: You have the reassurance that you’ll immediately notice if baby needs something, or if anything is wrong with them. Being so close to baby helps you to ‘tune in’ to how they communicate what they want and you’ll learn to predict baby’s needs.  Babywearing from birth can also help in establishing sucessful breastfeeding.

Convenient and Hands Free: Not only will it be easier to notice and meet baby’s changing needs, but you’ll have both hands free to be able to get on with your day too.  With baby calmer and more settled, you’ll have less stress and more time to meet some of your needs (as well as those of older children). And when out and about, slings are often much easier and more convenient than other baby transport methods, especially in London.

Good for you: Not only does babywearing using a supportive and well-fitting carrier support and protect your spine, abdominal and pelvic floor muscles (essential for a post-natal mother), but it’ll also provide you with low-impact and gradually increasing core strength training. Strength training helps to counter the reduction in bone density that naturally occurs while breastfeeding, protecting against future oseoporosis. Plus you’ll be carrying at least 3kg more in weight (sometimes for many hours a day), which burns significant calories too!

Comfortable: If well fitted and used correctly, baby carriers are very comfortable to use for significant lengths of time without discomfort, and with children up to age 3 or 4. Babies are designed to fit against your body and when supported close to your centre of gravity they are much more comfortable to carry than a rucksack or other load of similar weight.

We think that babywearing is fantastic for many reasons, but it’s different for everyone, and each family will find their own benefits of being able to comfortably carry their baby or toddler regularly.

References (this article is not yet fully referenced – additional references will be added in due course):
Anisfeld, E., Casper, V., Nozyce, M. and Cunningham N. (1990) Does infant carrying promote attachment? An experimental study of the effects of increased physical contact on the development of attachment, Child Development, 61, 1617-1627.
Gregson, S. and Blacker, J. (2011), Kangaroo Care in Pre-term or low birth weight babies in a postnatal ward, British Journal of Midwifery, Sept 2011, Vol. 9, No. 9
Hunt, F. (2008), The importance of kangaroo care on infant oxygen saturation levels and bonding, Journal of Neonatal Nursing (2008), 14, pp 47-51
Hunziker, U.A., and Barr, R.G. (1986) Increased Carrying Reduces Infant Crying; A Randomized Controlled Trial, Pediatrics 77:641-648.
Larimer, K. (1999) Kangaroo Care Benefits
Pelaez-Nogueras, M. et al (1996) Depressed mothers’ touching increases infants’ positive affect and attention in still-face interactions. Child Development, 67, 1780-92.
Piscane, A et. al (2012), The Use of Baby Carriers to Increase Breastfeeding Duration Amoung Term Infants: the effects of an educational intervention in Italy, Acta Paediatrica 2012 101, pp 434-438
Research Finding Summary Table
Sontheimer, D., Fischer, C.B. and Buch, K.E. (2010), Kangaroo Trasnport instead of Incubator Transport, Paediatrics, 2004;113;920-923

© 2011 South London Sling Library

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