Is Babywearing good for babies?
What is babywearing?
The art of Babywearing has been around for centuries, and is simply the practice of carrying (or wearing) your baby in a sling, pouch or baby carrier. Every culture in the world has been known to adopt this instinctive parenting approach, and in fact baby carriers have played an important role in the progress of the human species. Where traditional families have relied upon the mother for day-to-day functioning, this simple invention allowed her to carry out regular chores such as cooking, harvesting and cleaning, while their dependent child was safe and in close proximity at all times.
In western society today, baby carriers retain a valuable role in early years parenting, and provide a host of benefits to both caregiver and child. Let's explore those in more detail...
Holding an infant close to your body can create a sense of attachment and connection unrivalled by any other method. When held close in a baby carrier, the child can feel and hear their caregivers heartbeat, breathe in their scent, and feel their warmth. Babywearing can promote the bonding process between caregiver and baby, helping to create a strong and secure attachment which is crucial for a baby's healthy emotional development.
Social & Cognitive Development
When a child is worn in a baby carrier, they literally have a front row seat to the world around them! It it believed that this higher vantage point provides benefits in areas such as sociability and language development. Exposure to social situations, a range of environments and a broad variety of interactions can help to stimulate the senses and encourages cognitive development.
Life is busy. Make things a little easier for yourself by freeing up your hands, for the ultimate multi-tasking! Whether running errands, doing household chores, parenting older siblings, or even working, by wearing your infant in a baby carrier you can keep them safe, content and calm, while going about your daily activities. Of course, care should always been taken and judgement calls made depending on the tasks you're undertaking- for example, if cooking, moving your baby from a front carry position to a back one is a safer option to reduce the risk of injury. Choose a carrier such as the Ergobaby carrier, which can be safely worn for multiple carry positions.
You may be familiar with the term "kangaroo care"? This term was coined in reference to premature babies and the research that shows that holding an preemie baby to bare skin for as long as possible during the day actually results in faster weight gain. This principle can be actually be applied to all infants, as evidence shows that this practice helps to promote the regulation of heart rate, respiratory rates, and temperature.
Research shows that carried babies cry less, and have a decreased level of stress hormones circulating in their blood stream. Frequently carried babies fall asleep more quickly and will typically sleep more deeply and for longer periods while in the comfort of their sling.
Babywearing allows for a child to be held in a natural and ergonomic body position, that can correctly support their hips and spine. Known as the "seated M-position", where the knees are at a higher position than the bottom, ensures that weight is spread correctly and the spine in adequately supported. Good, correctly designed slings such as the Tula Baby Carrier encourage this spread-squat M-position and can help to prevent hip problems later in life, in children at risk of them. You can also read about how reusable nappies can further provide hip dysplasia support here
Baby Carriers are further recommended by the NHS to help prevent Plagiocephaly (the flattening of portions of the skull bones from prolonged periods of lying on the back). A baby that is worn in an upright position or carried in a variety of positions during waking hours is naturally at a lower risk of suffering this condition as they spend less time on their backs.
How to carry your baby safely
When wearing your baby in a sling or carrier, it is important to remember the T.I.C.K.S rules for safe babywearing. These are:
Your baby carrier should be tight enough to hug your baby close to you as this will be most comfortable for you both. Any slack/loose fabric will allow your baby to slump down in the carrier which can hinder their breathing and pull on your back.
IN VIEW AT ALL TIMES
You should always be able to see your baby's face by simple glancing down. The fabric of the sling or carrier should not close around them so you have to open it to check on them. In a cradle position your baby should face upwards and not be turned in towards your body.
CLOSE ENOUGH TO KISS
Your baby's head should be as close to your chin as it comfortable. By tipping your head forward you should be able to kiss your baby on the head or forehead.
KEEP CHIN OFF THE CHEST
A baby should never be curled so their chin is forced onto their chest as this can restrict their breathing. Ensure there is always a space of at least a finger width under your baby's chin.
In an upright carrier a baby should be held comfortably close to the wearer so their back is supported in its natural position and their tummy and chest are against you. If a sling is too loose they can slump which can partially close their airway. A baby in a cradle carry in a pouch or ring sling should be positioned carefully with their bottom in the deepest part so the sling does not fold them in half pressing their child to their chest.
Baby wearing is a practical and comfortable way to care for an infant, and can help to promote a strong and secure bond attachment It has many benefits for both child and caregiver, and if you're keen to try it for yourself take a look at our range here. We only stock tried and tested baby carriers that we know and love.
Laura Davies is the founder of The Nappy Gurus, the online store dedicated to providing families with a one stop shop for parenting products with sustainability and nurturing in mind. Laura has personal experience with reusable nappies, reusable wipes and babywearing, and is a trained Babywearing Peer Supporter.