I am a Babywearing Peer Supporter, having trained with the School of Babywearing. I have a range of carriers (ring slings, stretchy wraps, woven wraps and buckle carriers) that I can support you in trying out, to discover which option may be best for you and your family.
Babywearing International defines babywearing as:
“Babywearing is the practice of keeping your baby or toddler close and connected to you as you engage in daily activities through the use of one of a variety of types of baby carriers. It is a traditional practice in many cultures that is not widely used by modern industrialized societies, but it nonetheless has many benefits for both children and caregivers.”
In its simplest explanation, babywearing is wearing your baby close to your body with the support of a baby carrier so as to support both your and your baby’s posture whilst being able to continue your day-to-day activities.
Why should I wear my baby?
Having your hands free is not the only benefit to babywearing – if it was, people would simply use prams, moses baskets and other baby paraphernalia that western society is already using. There are many more benefits for you, your baby, and society as a whole.
Benefits for YOU (the babywearer)
Breastfeeding – if you wish to breastfeed, wearing your baby can help establish breastfeeding. Keeping your baby in close contact with you increases your levels of oxytocin and prolactin, helping to establish your milk supply and stimulating deeper bonding;
Bonding – Babywearing is a great way of holding your baby in skin-to-skin contact. This stimulates your body to produce oxytocin – the love hormone! This is not exclusive to mothers – Dads benefit from this too. Babywearing can also help maintain your bond with older children. Wearing your newborn means you are still able to interact and join in play with older siblings, lessening any feelings they may have of being “left out”;
Communicating with your baby – A new baby is a learning curve. Each child is different from the next and it takes a while to learn the different ways your child is communicating with you. By wearing your baby and keeping them close you are able to become more in tune with their cues and respond to them quickly;
Socialising – Once you feel confident wearing your baby safely, babywearing enables you to get out and about much easier than a pram. It takes up less room in the car, less time to put on (some carriers can even be pre-tied, so you can leave them on and pop baby in and out) and makes it easier to get around cafes and shops when you are out. Babywearing also opens up a whole new support network with sling meets and sling libraries where you can try out different carriers to see what suits you best;
Health and Fitness – Babywearing helps to build your core strength and supports your posture;
Mental Health – The RCM (Royal College of Midwives) encourages mothers to use soft baby carriers to help with postnatal depression.
Benefits for your baby
Comfort – Babywearing is comforting for your baby. It feels warm and womb-like, helping your baby transition through the Fourth Trimester;
Interaction – Babywearing provides your baby with a different view point. Even though they are not facing forward in a sling/baby carrier, the views that they can see from turning their head side to side are a completely different view of the world to the one they would get in a pram. Rather than seeing the world at people’s knees, they can see the world you are seeing, and begin to interact with it along with you;
Bonding/Development – Wearing your baby safely, in the “close enough to kiss” position means that your baby benefits from regular eye contact from you, hearing your voice, and starts to understand the world by witnessing your reactions to situations;
Physical Benefits – Wearing your baby close to you helps to regulate their temperature and heart rate, and also improves their oxygen levels. It is for these reasons that neonatal units advocate Kangeroo Care for premature babies and those needing extra medical attention. Safe babywearing also supports your baby in their natural posture, helping to support your child as their spine continues to develop. Babywearing can also help colicky/reflux babies as upright carries support them in a good position, without wearing out your arms!
As they grow – Babywearing is not just for “babies”. As your child grows, you can continue to babywear, and it can be invaluable for tantrums, over-stimulation and tiredness. Being wrapped can help settle and calm a child and help diffuse tense situations.
Benefits for society
Is it really possible that this parenting skill can have a benefit to wider society? Whilst there are no studies that I can quote for these benefits, when you look at the benefits for parents, as well as baby, it is possible to infer how this impacts on our society.
Your child’s future – Babywearing is an investment in your child’s future, developing a more confident child, improving their social and emotional skills. Society can only improve for having members that are more emotionally intelligent and sociable;
Health and impact on NHS – With the benefits to wearers including their core strength, improvements in fitness, benefits to breastfeeding, increased oxytocin production and improvements to postnatal depression, it’s possible that babywearing could reduce the health resources currently needed by new mothers.