Last week I shared with you the history of babywearing and how it fell out of and back into popularity in the US. This week I want to share some of the benefits of babywearing.
So why not lug around the 30 lb car seat or put your child in a stroller every time you are out? What about laying your child under a play gym or in a bouncer? While these items definitely have their place and are very useful, there are times when babywearing may be a better option.
As discussed previously, babywearing allowed mothers to tend to their daily tasks and care for their babies at the same time. As any new mother can tell you, babies are demanding! They take a lot of time and attention (some require more than others, but they all NEED it). It’s hard to find time and balance to get back to caring for your home and family when you always have a little person occupying your arms. That is exactly why babywearing was invented. By carrying your baby in a sling or wrap, you now have one or even two hands free to work on your tasks.
Besides assisting the mother in her chores, babywearing is beneficial for the baby. As I said, babies need attention and close interaction with their mothers (think all the reasons for skin-to-skin contact with your new baby: body temperature regulation, stable breathing patterns, the comfort of hearing mom’s heartbeat, etc.) I’ve heard baby wraps called “an extension of the womb” because it hugs the baby close to its mother so it can smell her, hear her heartbeat, and feel her breathing. This is very soothing to a baby. When have you ever seen a newborn upset while being snuggled close to its mother’s chest? It also helps the baby fall fast asleep effortlessly versus the struggle to get baby down for a nap in a cold bed all alone.
Then there’s the matter of cranial molding. More and more we are seeing babies with “flat spots” on their heads from laying in the same position all day, every day. This can be a serious problem, and can be tied to a number of other health concerns. If the baby isn’t laying around all day, this shouldn’t be as big of a problem.
As a new mom, those first several weeks are HARD! Trying to learn your baby’s cues and figure out when he should be sleeping, eating, etc. isn’t easy when you are desperate to have your hands free and do something other than sit on the couch and hold your baby every waking minute of the day. If you wear your baby, you can get up and get a little bit of freedom while simultaneously meeting your baby’s primal needs. He will let you know when he is ready to wake up and eat, and when he is ready, he will go to sleep.
And can we say hands available to push a cart that actually has room for groceries because it isn’t already full of car seat!
I wish I had known or realized some of these things when I was first starting out as a mom. My LO is so very clingy. I used to be so cumbered by having to hold him all the time. I felt as though I could not get anything done. Then there were the people saying “it’s good for him to be alone sometimes and to cry it out…” that made me feel like I was being a bad parent for holding him all the time. In reality, he needed the extra attention, love, and care. It was good for him. Once I figured that out and started babywearing, life became so much simpler.
Now you will see me wearing him almost every single time I am at the store, whenever we go on an outing (think zoo, aquarium, museum, etc.), and even when I’m doing chores around the house! Do I wear him ALL the time? No. We spend a lot of time playing together on the floor. If I need to cook or do something that requires more care than I can give while holding him, I will put him in his Jumperoo (which he loves!). But wearing him has been so helpful in getting my house back and being able to get things done while caring for him. It had been helpful for him! He’s happier (very rarely does he ever cry when I’m wearing him… usually only if he’s hungry), and he’s getting to see how the world works from my vantage point. He’s hearing how to interact with others. He’s learning about chores. He’s getting to see the world outside his car seat or stroller and take it all in.
I’m not saying that every one should wear their babies all the time… everyone’s circumstances and schedules are different, and they all have to find what works for them. But babywearing does offer a helpful, healthy, fairly hands-free method of multitasking and giving your whole family the attention they deserve.
Next week we will talk about different types of babywearing devices.