The Importance of Babywearing
While for many babywearing comes out of convenience or necessity of having other children to care for, there are many physical benefits to babywearing. Babywearing has been a practice in many cultures for thousands of years. It is now regaining popularity in the US. Anthropologists and psychologists who study the behavior of mothers and babies have observed that when mothers and babies are together, they are constantly shaping one another’s behavior. In many cultures around the world babies are worn by a caregiver. This allows the caregiver to respond to babies needs immediately. When baby fusses the caregiver can immediately respond, talking and making comforting sounds to baby. Studies show that in countries where it is common to wear babies, babies tend to cry less. While a baby can not verbalize, when a caregiver looks down at a baby being worn it is comforting and baby often smiles and coo’s back. Babywearing also allows for easy feeding while out and about if you choose to breastfeed. If breastfeeding there is much less you will need to bring with you when you leave the house with baby.
According to Dr. Jack Newman concerning skin to skin “The baby is happier, the baby’s temperature is more stable and more normal, the baby’s heart and breathing rates are more stable and more normal, and the baby’s blood sugar is more elevated. Not only that, skin to skin contact immediately after birth allows the baby to be colonized by the same bacteria as the mother.” It is also believed that skin to skin help regulate babies body temperature and blood sugar levels. While important for any baby, this can be especially important in a preemie. Babywearing makes skin to skin very easy and enjoyable. You can wear a woven wrap and still be covered yourself if that makes you more comfortable. Many times when a baby or even older child is sick, skin to skin is very beneficial helping regulate temperature and comforting to baby.
Babywearing can also be beneficial to newborns and infants as it mimics the movement in the womb. It also creates a safe barrier from the often loud, chaotic outside world of which they are still getting used to. Baby is able to see caregivers face, able to snuggle in comfortably and often falls asleep rather quickly. Many babies are easily overstimulated in loud, crowded situations and babywearing is a wonderful tool for that. While companies do now make strollers where baby can face their caregiver it still does not allow for the comfort of contact to the baby’s caregiver.
Babywearing is not just beneficial for wearing infants, but can be extremely helpful to wear a toddler. Toddlers can be over stimulated just as infants. If a toddler is feeling over stimulated and melts down putting them up in a carrier is often very comforting. Also when a toddler is tired and you need to run errands, or are at an event being able to wear a toddler and have a safe easy place for them to fall asleep is a wonderful thing. Wearing a toddler can make it easier for a caregiver to attend multiple children at one time. It also makes for easy travel as you don’t need to bring a bulky stroller. Toddlers still need the closeness of a caregiver as they explore and learn about the world around them. If you have a runner it definitely helps to be able to wear your toddler in crowded situations.
Whether you have a high needs infant who wants to be held all the time, a toddler who runs off at the first chance they get, or a child who is easily over stimulated babywearing is an extremely beneficial tool for all caregivers. There are many types of carriers. One of the best way to find the right one for you is to attend a babywearing lending library meeting where you can try on different carriers for free. Carriers are like a good pair of jeans, not every brand or type works for everyone. The benefits of joining a lending library is that for a small yearly fee of usually between $20-$30 you can borrow one carrier for a whole month and check out a different carrier each month of your membership. It is a very cost effective way to get into babywearing as some carriers can be expensive. Just remember more expensive doesn’t always mean it makes for a better carrier. Sometimes lending library meetings can be overwhelming, there are also babywearing instructors who will come to your home for a fee and bring different carriers for you to try and help you learn to use them.
By Brianne Debiak