Five Benefits Of The Ancient, Now Trending Practice Of Babywearing
Babywearing, a time-honored tradition in many cultures that almost disappeared in the Western world, has made a dramatic comeback in recent years. Moms with slings or wraps or carriers may be seen anywhere there are gatherings of mamas and babies. It’s also a hot trend among Hollywood parents, including such celebrities as Jennifer Garner, Gwen Stefani, and Julia Roberts. The Inquisitr has reported in the past that Mayim Bialik is a huge advocate of babywearing, as well as other attachment parenting practices.
In honor of International Babywearing Week, here are some of the incredible benefits of wearing baby.
1.) Babywearing is convenient. Moms who have discovered the benefits of a Maya wrap or Ergo carrier (or any other carrier that they love) at any time after their first baby have expressed amazement at how much easier life can be wearing baby than it was before. Alternative Mama argues that “babywearing is vital when you have more than one kid.” It makes it easier to chase after the other ones and tend to their needs.
Little people love to be carried and held close, but they can get heavy. A carrier helps to spread the weight of the baby and make carrying the child easier. Also, Everyday Family raves about the convenience of babywearing for outings.
“It’s so much easier to put your baby into a sling to run an errand than getting the stroller out of the car.”
It also makes it easier to do things around the house, including typing for blogs and social media. Carriers free up parents’ hands a bit so that they can do those tasks around the house that just refuse to do themselves (laundry, vacuuming, dishes).
2.) Babies who are worn cry less. People in Western cultures have come to believe that crying in babies is normal, but anthropologists who have observed infants in indigenous cultures where the norm is to carry their babies on their bodies have found that those babies seldom cry! When baby has a need, the mother is immediately on hand to address it, whether it be hunger or discomfort. Dr. William Sears has long been an advocate of attachment parenting, of which babywearing is an important facet.
“In Western culture we measure a baby’s crying in hours, but in other cultures, crying is measured in minutes. We have been led to believe that it is ‘normal’ for babies to cry a lot, but in other cultures this is not accepted as the norm.”
Psychologists have long said that babies need human touch in order to thrive, according to the NY Times, touch which babywearing readily provides. That touch releases oxytocin, coined “the love hormone” by French obstetrician and normal birth activist Michel Odent. Oxytocin facilitates bonding. Lack of touch results in the release of more stress hormones, according to Harvard.
3.) Babywearing results in babies who are more secure, with less fear of heights later on in life. A baby who is worn feels a wide variety of motions as mother bends and stretches and moves about with the little one attached, and thus develops less of a fear of heights, according to ICPA. A baby in a stroller, on the other hand, is limited in the range of motions he experiences. The carried child learns to adjust. People who grew up in tribal cultures where babywearing is the norm are actually sought after for high rise construction work because of their lack of a fear of heights.
“Interestingly enough, the fear of flying and the fear of heights which plagues many of today’s adults can often be traced back to not being carried as an infant. Carried babies feel secure, and are less apt to develop space-related phobias.”
These babies also tend to be more secure emotionally, according to Everyday Family. Clinginess often indicates a need for more attachment that has been missing. When children’s needs for security are met early on, within the first year, they tend to be better able to be independent when it is time for them to do so developmentally. They grow up “with more confidence because they feel assured that they always have a place of comfort to come back to.”
4.) Babywearing has numerous health benefits. Boba lists a number of such benefits, which are all backed by scientific research.
- Boosts baby’s immune system
- Fewer ear infections and less GERD
- Helps regulate baby’s body temperature
- Enhances growth and weight gain
- Helps regulate and stabilize baby’s breathing and heart rate
- Improved neurological development
- Saved lives – Many studies show that kangaroo care, which is babywearing of newborns, has resulted in the saving of lives of at-risk infants throughout the world.
5.) Babywearing can help with breastfeeding. Many carriers are designed with breastfeeding in mind, which makes them very helpful to moms on the go. Nursing can be done discreetly in the checkout line at the grocery store, at the little league game, at church, or synagogue – anywhere mom and baby are. Dr. Sears points out the convenience of babywearing during those times of growth spurts – days when a little one wants to do nothing but nurse because they are growing so fast. He also says that nursing in a sling can help babies who have problems organizing their sucking.
“Tense babies (those with a suck problem called tonic bites) and back-archers often breastfeed much better in the sling because of the organizing effect babywearing has on their entire physiology. As the baby’s whole body relaxes, so do the suck muscles.”
Breastfeeding while babywearing can also result in weight gain for slow-to-gain babies. According to Sears, this is because it enables the mother to be able “to read and respond to baby’s feeding cues more promptly.” Baby has easy access to feeding.
These are just a few of the numerous benefits of babywearing, not even including the incredible sweetness of having baby so close by and breathing in the intoxicating fragrance of her presence, and the ability to feel the precious bundle next to your heart. It is little surprise that the ancient practice of babywearing is becoming popular again.
[images via UNFPA/Kenya, and courtesy of Moments by Frances, Tara Allcock, Amanda Decker, Michelle Viquez, and Christi Colvin]