Here is a list of freely available research articles or summaries that you may find interesting. Some of these show findings that support the benefits of babywearing in recommended sling types; others have findings that may affect or support related parenting choices. Here’s a few to start you off; we’ll be adding more soon. We hope that you find them useful!
Article: S Brotherson, Family Science Specialist, “Keys to Enhancing Brain Development in Young Children”
A clear, fully referenced article that sets out what young children need for optimal brain development, and with practical tips on how to achieve that. One important point is that infants and young children need a lot of physical contact and reassurance to help their physical and brain development, and that a good way to achieve this is to use a carrier from infancy.
Our Thoughts: We think that everything that needs saying is in the following extract: “Touch is a fundamental and important source of security to a child. If you deprive an infant of touch, the body and brain will stop growing in a healthy manner. Physical stroking helps premature babies gain weight more quickly and helps healthy babies digest food better. Babies cry less when they are held and carried regularly. Touch is an infant’s lifeline to security, attachment and reassurance. ”
Article: L Protheroe, S Parry and J Richards. “Lifft Slings – Independent Biomechanical Assessment”, Biomechanical Testing Facilities in the North West University of Central Lancashire.
This assessment found that carrying a child using the Lifft Sling (a type of fitted pouch used to carry a child on the hip), improves spine posture by reducing the level of sideways leaning when standing and walking.
Our Thoughts: This clear piece of research helps to demonstrate how using a sling can improve your posture when carrying your child, protecting your back, core and pelvic floor muscles (a particularly improtant consideration for post-natal mothers whose core muscles and pelvic floor will be weaker than normal and possibley damaged). We would also like to point out that this test was done using a non-adjustable, hip carrying sling, and that even better support for your posture and spine will be gained from using a more adjustable sling (such as a woven wrap or mei tai) in a central front or back carrying position.
Two hundred mothers with healthy term infants were assigned to receive either a baby carrier and some accurate information and training about the use thereof or only information about breastfeeding. Findings seemsto suggest that the use of baby carriers in healthy term infants during their first month is associated with increased breastfeeding duration.
Article: Blois, Maria. “Birth: Care of Infant and Mother: Time Sensitive Issues.” Best Practices in the Behavioral Management of Health from Preconception to Adolescence, edited by William Gordon and Jodie Trafton. Los Altos: Institute for Disease Management. 2007-8. pp. 108-132.
This fantastic article is linked in summary on the Babywearing International website here: http://babywearinginternational.org/pages/babywearingweektoolkit.php
Amongst other benefits, this research find that “Simple holding, without the skin-to-skin contact, was found to reduce crying, and the provisions of soft carriers led to mothers who were more responsive to their babies and to babies who were more securely attached.” And it concludes that: “Given the many benefits of physical contact between mother and baby, it appears reasonable to encourage this essential practice of holding – promoting skin-to-skin contact, inarms holding, and holding in a soft baby carrier, as a matter of course in the care of new babies (both premature and term) and their parents.”
Our thoughts: The conclusion of this research says it all!
Article: Strollers, Baby Carriers and Infant Stress, written by Elizabeth Antunovic (©2010 Boba Inc.)
A detailed and fully referenced article written for the Boba Baby Carriers website, which gives a wide range of arguments for why holding a baby in your arms or a carrier is the best position for their physical and psychological health and wellbeing.
Our thoughts: a very interesting and very worthwhile read
Article: Facing in, Facing out; a science based view on baby carrying positions, Written by Dr Henrik Norholt in February 2011 for ERGOparent online magazine.
Not strictly research study based, but a very interesting and useful article describing stages of baby development (both physically and cognitively), and relating them to why the recommended carrying position is for the baby to face the parent.
Our thoughts: This very clearly helps parents to understand why inward-facing carrying positions might be better for baby for both their physical, social and emotional development.
Article: Regulation of anxiety during the postpartum period. Lonstein, J.S. (2007), Frontiers in Neuroendocrinology, Volume 28, Issues 2-3, August-September 2007, Pages 115-141
Extract from abstract: Healthy mother–infant interactions are critical for the physical, cognitive, and psychological development of offspring. Such interactions rely on numerous factors, including a positive maternal emotional state…. Although the causes of initial onset are unclear, postpartum anxiety can be mitigated by recent contact with infants.
Our thoughts: Wearing your baby in a recommended carrier or sling ensures a high level of close contact between mother and baby. This doesn’t just improve a baby’s feelings of comfort and security, but is also shown to help encourage a positive emotional state for a mother in the often stressful and exhausting period following a baby’s birth. I love having my baby ‘close enough to kiss’ and feeling her cuddled against me; it’s definitely one of the things that makes me feel most happy!
Article: What’s life in a baby buggy like?: The impact of buggy orientation on parent-infant interaction and infant stress. Zeedyk, M.S. (2008), The University of Dundee/National Literacy Trust
This article is based on 2 studies;
The results of Study I foundd that away-facing buggies were associated with a reduction in speaking for both parents (50% less spech) and infants (33% less speech). Infants in toward-facing buggies were twice as likely to be sleeping as infants in away-facing buggies, an unexpected finding that has been tentatively interpreted as an indicator of stress levels.
The results of Study II confirmed that mothers spoke twice as much when travelling with their infants in toward-facing buggies. Results also showed that mothers and infants were both more likely to laugh when facing each other, and that mothers were aware of and surprised by this overall change in interactions with their babies. Finally, the results yielded further tentative evidence for the possibility that buggy orientation could influence child stress: infant heart rates fell slightly when moved into a toward-facing orientation, and they were also more likely to fall asleep in this orientation.
Our thoughts: Though this research focusses on buggies, the same might be applied to babywearing; it seems likely that a baby being carried facing their parent will be spoken to more often than a baby in a facing-away buggy. And from our experience even babies carried on a parent’s back (not facing their parent) are in the eyeline of other adults and children around them, and so become very involved in the social world from a young age. In fact it took some getting used to for me when I started back carrying as in shops everyone addressed the 6 month old baby on my back first and not me! She loved being greeted and talked to, but could easily hide her face behind me if she wasn’t sure about someone she didn’t know.
Extract: … Babies and young children reach out for interaction through babbling, facial expressions and gestures. If they do not get a response, or the response is inappropriate, then the brain’s architecture does not form as expected… High levels of joint attention and reciprocity are associated with more effective communication and more rapid child language development. Parents who take their lead from the child have more effect than those trying to direct the child…. Parents can enhance their children’s language and literacy by talking about interesting events daily and encouraging children to do the same… Talking about shared past events and extending conversations through more complex language … links to sustained shared thinking …. Mother-child reminiscing was a more powerful predictor of children’s print and semantic skills than was book reading. (Reese 1995) …Being ‘in tune’ is important for secure attachment and communication. The importance of this first relationship with parents for future friendships and success at school needs to be emphasised.
Our thoughts: Babywearing enables regular shared experiences between parent and child. In fact a young baby may be carried for much of the day and so shares almost all of their parent’s/family’s daily experiences! The parent is also in the perfect position to be aware of and respond to a child’s communications about their experiences (through verbal babbling and noise-making, and physical movements such as pointing and making faces), encouraging confident and effective communication between child and parent.
Our Thoughts: Studies have shown that the use of infant car seats and sitting aids with babies not able to sit alone can result in significant lowering of the levels of oxygen in their blood. The use of a well-fitting sling or baby carrier that does not cover baby’s face and that holds baby in an upright position whilst fully supporting their back, neck and head will provide maximum support for baby’s airways airways.
Article: Using a Sling for Daytime Sleep
Recent research has shown that using a sling for your baby’s daytime sleeps may be safer for them than leaving them in alone in another room, and also provides all of the other benefits of sling use to both parent and baby.
Babywearing UK has now produced an excellent Research Summaries and links page here: http://www.babywearing.co.uk/babywearing-articles/
There are also some interesting extracts on the Didymos website here: Didymos Website: Studies, Opinions and Research
And very useful information on the Storchenwiege website here: http://www.storchenwiege.com/babycarrierresearch.htm
Plus loads of links to all sorts of other research articles here (you may need to register to read the posts on The Babywearer forum): The Babywearer: Babywearing Research Thread
Some more related research that we’ve found interesting: