Baby wearing is the practice of carrying your newborn or older baby by using a pouch sling, ring sling, or wrap. It has long been practiced in more traditional societies and its benefits are slowly being recognized in the care of modern babies. So what are the benefits of wearing your baby and how does this fit in with your modern lifestyle?
Helps a new mother bond with her baby and learn the baby's cues
Baby wearing assists a new mother into recognizing her baby's cues such as hunger, tiredness and elimination. The close proximity to each other also helps with bonding and has been shown to increase confidence in mothers and decrease the incidence of post partum depression.
Helps to establish breastfeeding
Wearing your newborn in a sling helps to stimulate the production of breast milk and allows your baby to feed when needed. This is important in the first few weeks when a baby needs to feed often and you're learning to nurse.
Reduced fussiness and crying
A baby who is in close proximity to their mother is typically less fussy and is not as prone to crying compared to babies who are not carried. You are able to attend to your baby's needs much more quickly. Studies have shown a reduction in stress hormones in babies who are worn in comparison to babies who are not. In addition, the incidence of colic and reflux is reduced because the upright position assists digestion.
Optimizes infant growth and development
Babies are able to learn about the world from the safety of their sling and are exposed to a greater range of experiences than babies who are not worn. They also experience a greater range of motion and movement, with their muscles developing through being exercised when moving with their mother. Babies will tend to sleep for longer periods and more deeply when they are being worn as opposed to sleeping in a crib.
How will I fit this into my modern life?
It's surprisingly easy. Although babies sleep a lot, they are also awake for several hours a day and in that time need to be taken care of. By wearing your baby in a sling or wrap you can accomplish many of the regular household activities that would be impossible otherwise. As an added bonus, wearing your baby helps to strengthen core abdominal muscles, arms, and legs, plus improve your overall fitness.
Once the realm of hippies and other alternative types, many more parents are recognizing that baby wearing has a place in a modern mother's toolkit. Even celebrities such as Naomi Watts, Julia Roberts, and Keri Russell have all been seen wearing their babies. It takes a bit of practice but once you get the hang of it you'll be surprised how easy it is. Many mothers wear their babyies full time, but not everybody is comfortable with that. Even an hour or two a day will result in significant benefits to you and your baby.