Babies love to be carried. A baby carrier is just a simple tool to make baby carrying easy, to make baby carrying become babywearing. When you get babywearing right, it’s about the baby not the baby carrier. The carrier vanishes, and you have your baby attached to you. It feels like holding for you and for your baby. You have a happy baby and two hands free.
In addition to the love and bonding that babywearing encourages, parents have many reasons for choosing to carry their babies.
When parents hear that babywearing can be an important tool in promoting healthy babies, even parents who have not heard of attachment parenting consider how they can make babywearing a part of their lives.
- Kangaroo care for preemies. Premature babies in particular need closeness even outside the womb. Keeping a baby snug against bare skin is called “kangaroo care.” (3)(4)
- Less crying. Studies have shown that babies who are carried cry less and that babywearing can effectively be used in colic therapy. (3)
- Better sleep. Not only is a carried baby happier, but studies show better sleep in carried babies. (1)
- Good for mothers. Babywearing helps those mothers with or at risk for post partum depression, making overall baby care easier for mother and giving baby more positive interaction. Studies indicate that babywearing can result in more confident parenting. Who doesn’t want to be a more confident parent?
- Physical development. Touch, skin-to-skin contact, helps all newborn babies make the transition to life outside the womb. This is especially important for preterm (premature) babies. According to Dr. William Sears, touch and movement are a “biological regulator” that helps babies balance their irregular rhythms to the patterns of the adult’s regular rhythms.
- Emotional development. Babies need to feel attached to you. Some may wonder if holding a baby close all of the time makes a baby more clingy. On the contrary, if they can see and touch you when they want to, they are reassured that you will be there when they need you. They will be more confident as it comes time to explore on their own. A toddler will tell you very clearly when it’s time to get down (and back up).
- Mental development. A baby who is distressed puts a lot of energy into letting you know. When a baby is busy crying or focusing on what they don’t have, they spend less time observing and learning about their world. A secure baby is quiet and alert, actively curious about whatever you are doing. This stimulation is exactly what babies need for brain development. (5)
It helps to know that babywearing promotes babies’ health. But, a lot of parents choose to wear their babies just because it feels great and keeps babies happy.
Sources for Medical Studies on Babywearing
1. Hunziker UA, Garr RG. (1986) Increased carrying reduces infant crying: A randomized controlled trial. Pediatrics 77:641-648.
2. Tessier R, M Cristo, S Velez, M Giron, JG Ruiz-Palaez, Y Charpak and N Charpak. (1998) Kangaroo mother care and the bonding hypothesis. Pediatrics 102:e17.
3. Barr RG, McMullan SJ, Spiess H, Leduc DG, Yaremko J, Barfield R, Francoeur TE, Hunziker UA. Carrying as colic “therapy”: a randomized controlled trial. Pediatrics. 1991 May;87(5):623-30.
4. Ferber SG, Makhoul IR. (2004) The effect of skin-to-skin contact (kangaroo care) shortly after birth on the neurobehavioral responses of the term newborn: a randomized, controlled trial. Pediatrics 113(4):858-65.
5. Pelaez-Nogueras M, Field TM, Hossain Z, Pickens J. (1996). Depressed mothers’ touching increases infants’ positive affect and attention in still-face interactions. Child Development, 67, 1780-92.
Throughout March we will offer guides to getting started with some of the basic practices of attachment parenting. This is Babywearing Week with coverage of benefits, products, resources, and personal experiences.