Babywearing for Newbies (Part 2): Benefits of Babywearing

Image: reebob

Welcome back to our series in babywearing! In part one I gave you a brief history of babywearing. Now, let us look at some of the benefits of babywearing both for the child and the parents.

Ask any baby wearing parent or caregiver what they see as the advantages of babywearing and you will probably receive a wide variety of responses. For some parents, it is a matter of necessity. For others, it has more to do with bonding and closeness. For others, they see the developmental benefits as being the most important reason to wear their baby. Here are some benefits of babywearing both from my own experience as well as what I have observed from other babywearing mothers. I have also included some benefits based on my own research.

The benefits and advantages of babywearing for the child

  • Babywearing is great for preemies. One study showed that wearing preterm babies skin-to-skin helped them cry less, have more quiet sleep, and maintain healthier temperature.
  • Babywearing reduces instances of plagiocephaly (abnormal head shape). Wearing your infant means less time with pressure against their head due to hard carriers, car seat and swings.
  • Babywearing is great for baby’s digestion. Wearing baby encourages frequent, smaller breastfeeding sessions. This, combined with the motion of being worn improves digestion.
  • Babywearing helps babies develop security. One study found that babies who are worn by their mothers are more secure when left with a stranger.
  • The gentle movement of babywearing and closeness to mommy reminds baby of being in the womb.
  • Babywearing makes it possible to go out with baby without worrying about other people’s hand and germs.
  • Babywearing is great for mental and psychomotor development. One study showed higher scores for babies worn skin-to-skin on the Bayley Mental Developmental Index and the Psychomotor Developmental Index.
  • Babywearing supports breastfeeding. Wearing baby encourages them to nurse and allows for easier, discreet breastfeeding in public. More attention is drawn to a baby who is crying frantically to nurse. With baby worn close in a sling, mother is able to quietly respond to early feeding cues beneath the privacy of the sling.
  • Babywearing helps babies thrive. Close to their milk supply, babies nurse more frequently. As a result of there being shorter time between feedings, the breast milk is higher in healthy fat. Frequent feedings of higher fat milk may help babies gain more weight. Worn babies also spend less energy fussing for feedings, so their bodies can devote more energy to growing!
  • Babywearing is excellent for baby’s development. Equivalent to “tummy time,” wearing your baby allows their balance to improve and their muscles to strengthen as they respond to your movements.
  • Babywearing encourages language development. Placing baby on the level of adult conversation and eye contact is the perfect spot for learning.
  • Babywearing encourages mothers to respond more to their babies. One study showed that mothers who wore their babies were more responsive to their infants’ vocalizations.
  • Babywearing supports transitions to other caregivers. Encouraging caregivers to wear baby in the sling helps baby, as they are able to feel the familiar security of being close to a loving adult.

The benefits and advantages of babywearing for the parent

  • Babywearing gives parents a boost in confidence. A happy baby makes parents feel more competent and at ease. Parents are able to sense what is wrong with baby when they stir, because baby is right next to them. Meeting needs before baby becomes upset results in a more relaxed parent.
  • Babywearing helps mothers feel happier. One study showed that mothers of pre-term babies who wore them skin-to-skin reported less depression than traditionally cared for babies.
  • Babywearing provides Daddy a way to share the nurturing and enhances family bonding.
  • Babywearing feels better for the parent. Carrying baby in your arms without a sling is tiring. Worn properly, a sling provides much needed support.
  • Babywearing helps parents have flexibility with sleep schedules. Wearing baby is a great way to lull baby to sleep no matter where you are.
  • Babywearing aids parents of older children when a new baby is welcomed into the family. With baby content in the sling, mom or dad are free to parent older children while bonding with the new baby.
  • Babywearing gives parents freedom while out. Strollers are hard to navigate through some areas and difficult to push through sand or wood chips at the playground. With baby in a sling, parents are able to get where they need to at the mall and help their active toddlers at the park.
  • Babywearing gives parents the freedom to bring their babies to their place of employment or to their volunteer activities, as they are able to care for them while they go about their work.
  • Babywearing allows parents to have evenings out at adult gatherings. With baby awake and content in the sling, or settled down to sleep, parents are free to enjoy their evening out.
  • Babywearing allows parents to have two free hands for day to day tasks while providing comfort to baby. With baby more content, parents are free to go about their tasks without as many interruptions.
  • Parents who babywear get extra exercise!

 

{Stay tuned for part three where I explore the various babywearing options and types of carriers!}

 

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