What is Babywearing?
It is the practice of keeping a baby held close to the parent in a sling or carrier for most of the day. It gives the parent the freedom to move about and tend to their tasks as normal while providing a nurturing environment for the child.
It is a traditional practice in many cultures and has many benefits for both children and caregivers. Babywearing promotes bonding, supports breastfeeding, can help combat postpartum depression, makes caregiving easier, and can be a lifesaver for parents of high-needs children.
Babywearing is not about any particular parenting philosophy and it is not about any specific carrier. It can be practiced by a wide variety of caregivers including mums, dads, grandparents, siblings, nannies, nurses - anyone who cares for a newborn, infant, or toddler.
So why wear your baby?
Current research has shown there are many physical and psychological benefits associated with baby wearing which encourage children to feel secure and content and help build a good self-esteem. Babywearing enables the mother to be acutely aware of her baby’s cues and signals, allowing her to more readily tend to her child’s needs.
- It can quickly calm a fussy baby. The close proximity of the baby enables parents to respond to ‘non-crying’ signals, which results in less frustration and stress.
- Carried babies cry less. A study published in the Pediatrics journal found that babywearing for three hours a day reduced infant crying by 43 percent overall and 54 percent during evening hours.1
- It teaches baby self-regulation. When a baby rides in a sling attached to their mother, they are in tune with the rhythm of her breathing, the sound of her heartbeat, and the movements she makes—walking, bending, and reaching. This stimulation helps them to regulate their own physical responses.
- It helps reduce colic and reflux. It promotes good digestion which is believed to greatly ease the distressing symptoms of colic and reflux. The gentle motion and closeness to Mum enhances intestinal function. Babies reflux more when crying, carried babies cry less.
Being in close physical contact with a parent provides a baby with a rich learning environment where all of their most important needs can be met – food, warmth, love and touch.
Babywearing not only promotes an intimate connection between parent and baby, it is hailed as one of the most important factors in the healthy physical, intellectual and social development of infants.
1. Hunziker UA, Garr RG. (1986) Increased carrying reduces infant crying: A random-ized controlled trial. Pediatrics 77:641-648