So what’s the big deal about baby wearing anyway? You may have heard about it, and now you are wondering what the big fuss is about. Why should you be wearing your baby?
Baby wearing is a big deal for us, so this is not our first blog about the benefits of baby wearing, but here we are offering an updated, more detailed discussion of how carrying your baby is good for your child – and for you!
1. Baby Wearing is Cost-Effective
One of the most obvious benefits to baby wearing, is the cost. Baby slings and carriers are a much more economical alternative to strollers and backpacks, and they can be taken virtually anywhere. You don’t have to lug around a stroller or worry about whether the place you’re taking your baby has elevators or stroller storage. Baby slings give you a lot of bang for your buck; they’re also available in a wide variety of colors, making them quite stylish.
2. Baby Wearing offers Emotional Benefits for Baby
Baby wearing provides emotional benefits to your child. Babies are comforted by being so close to their mother’s heartbeat and movements, especially during the first nine months after birth; they’re calmer and far less likely to cry. Carried babies produce fewer stress hormones and more feel-good hormones, making it easier for them to bond with their parents.
3. Baby Wearing Helps Baby Hit Developmental Milestones
Baby wearing makes it easier for your baby to hit developmental milestones. Carried babies develop greater physical and nerve strength from being so close to an active parent; when carried correctly, their hips are also in the best position for the joints to develop properly. Carried babies have lower cortisol levels, as they’re separated from their caregivers less often, allowing their bodies to put more energy into growth and weight gain. Being carried stimulates the baby’s nervous system and encourages development of their vestibular system, the parts of the inner ear that control their sense of balance. Carried babies score higher on mental and motor development tests, speak earlier, and have more advanced speech.
4. Baby Wearing offers Social Benefits for Baby
Carried babies feel more secure, and spend more time in a state of quiet alertness – the time when they learn the most about the world around them. They are also better able to interact with the world; people who stop to talk to Mom or Dad are more likely to talk to a baby in a sling or carrier, closer to the adult’s eye level, than a baby in a stroller. And if your baby gets overstimulated, in a sling, they’re able to turn away from the world and retreat closer to their caregiver until they’re ready to interact again.
5. Baby Wearing Helps with Baby’s Physical Development
Baby wearing is also key to your baby’s physical development. Being so close to their caregiver’s breathing and heartbeat encourages babies to match their own physical responses, which keeps their breathing and heartbeat more regular. Carried babies have better oxygenation and blood flow to their brains; chances of slow heart rate are drastically reduced and chances of fast heart rate are slim. When carried, babies also have better digestion; the position keeps food in the stomach and allows gas to escape. Babies who are carried have fewer instances of sleep apnea and better odds of long periods of restful sleep. Carrying your baby decreases their chances of developing pagiocephaly (flat-head syndrome), and encourages proper development of the muscles they’ll use to sit, stand, and walk. Carried babies also have fewer ear infections.
6. Baby Wearing makes Breastfeeding Easier
Another advantage to carrying your baby is that breastfeeding becomes more convenient. Your baby’s food source is right at hand, with no need to stop and get your baby out of the stroller or backpack. Carrying your baby helps Mom keep lactating, and carried babies are breast-fed more often and for longer periods. Breastfeeding helps to pass antibodies Mom develops on to the baby, in turn making the baby’s immune system stronger.
7. Baby Wearing Helps with Bonding Around the House
Around the house, baby wearing is a fun, easy alternative to playpens. You don’t have to spend all your time on the floor in order to get in quality bonding time with your baby; you can carry them around the house and still have your hands free to take care of everyday tasks.
8. Thanks to Baby Wearing, you can Take Baby Anywhere
Another advantage to baby slings is that you can take your baby along to work, to volunteer activities, or even on an evening out. Your baby is close at hand and easy to care of, but also not interfering with the things you need or want to do. If your baby needs a nap while you’re out, they can nap right there in the sling; you don’t need to worry about finding somewhere to put the stroller.
9. Baby Wearing Offers Emotional Benefits for Mom
Baby wearing also provides some emotional benefits for the mother. Wearing or carrying your child makes it much easier to bond with them. Being able to carry your baby can also help your body produce hormones that cut through post-partum depression symptoms, especially when you hold your child skin-to-skin.
10. Baby Wearing Offers Emotional Benefits for Dad
Carrying your baby opens up time for Dad to bond with the baby. Dads are cut out of bonding experiences such as breastfeeding by design, but they can still bond with their baby through carrying them; babies are comforted by Dad’s smell, movement, and warmth just as much as they are by Mom’s. Baby wearing can also help dads truly connect with their new family and see how important they are to their family’s emotional well-being.
11. Baby Wearing offers Mom some “Me Time”
In addition, when Dad takes the time to carry the baby, Mom can recharge. It’s easy for new moms to get so caught up in caring for their child, especially high-needs children, that they forget to take care of themselves. Dad carrying his baby for a while allows the baby to get one-on-one time with their parent and Mom to take a break and some time for herself.
12. Baby Wearing Makes Exercising Easier
Baby wearing also provides both moms and dads with great chances to exercise. Carrying a baby works great as a weight-bearing exercise for both parents, strengthening your core muscles. It’s much easier to take a walk with your baby in a sling or carrier than fighting with a bulky stroller. For mom, baby wearing helps to rebuild and strengthen muscles and ligaments that were stretched or weakened during pregnancy, as well as strengthening your pelvic floor.
13. Baby Wearing is Especially Good for High-needs/Premature Babies
If your baby was born prematurely or has many developmental needs, you should strongly consider the additional benefits baby wearing can give them. Wearing a premature baby, also known as “kangaroo care” when the baby has skin-to-skin contact with the caregiver, helps the baby gain weight faster and face a drastically reduced chance of newborn mortality. Close contact with their caregiver also gives premature and high-needs babies the comfort of being close to their parent, the way they were in the womb. Carried babies are often calmer.
14. Baby Wearing is Great for Toddlers
Baby wearing isn’t only for infants, either; toddlers can benefit from being carried by their mom or dad as well, and most slings are designed to hold up to 35 to 40 pounds. Toddlers feel more secure in a sling, and it gives them more time to bond with their caregiver. It’s also easier for them to have conversations, and easier for parents to watch their reactions to the rest of the world.
15. Baby Wearing is Good for Adopted Children
Another time to really consider the advantages of baby carrying is when you’ve adopted an infant or toddler. When adopting, you may have lost out on some early opportunities to bond with the child, and your body may not be producing the right hormones at the right time to help you bond. Carrying the child helps to speed up the bonding process, and can help treat attachment disorder problems if your baby is having them.
When looking into the options you have as a new parent, don’t forget all the benefits and advantages there are to wearing your baby in a sling or baby carrier!
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