This week I wanted to look into all things babywearing! My interest was sparked by a cousin of mine who started showing up at all of our family gatherings carrying her daughter in beautiful pieces of cloth. Every time I saw her, she had a new carrier and even started buying them as gifts for other family members when they were pregnant. She went on and on about this new trend of babywearing and has been doing it for the last 3 years.
In order to learn more I got in touch with with Suzi Lang of Babywearing International of Central Iowa. So, for those of you who are not aware of what this babywearing is all about, have no fear, I think I’ve figured it out!
What is babywearing?
Babywearing is the practice of wearing or carrying a baby in a sling of another form of carrier. Although this is a recent trend here in America, babywearing has been around for centuries and is done all around the world. There are four main kind of carriers which range in price anywhere from $40-$300.
1.) Soft Structured Carriers
3.) Ring Slings/Pouches
4.) Mei Tai
This whole concept can be a little confusing at first for us beginners, so here’s a video if you’d like a more clear image of how exactly a wrap is worn. This is one of the many, many ways a wrap can be worn. Caregivers can carry babies up to any age as long as they feel comfortable doing it, and baby is wanting to be carried.
What are the benefits of babywearing? Beyond the trend…
Besides the fact that all these wraps and carriers can be super cute accessories, there is much more to it than that! Babywearing has countless benefits for both mom and baby:
• Hands free what mom doesn’t want that?! As someone who works at a daycare facility, I know there are times a baby needs to be held, yet I have a million other things I need to get done with two hands. Babywearing allows the mother to have the baby close to offer that comfort, yet both hands free to complete tasks.
Suzi filled me in on a few more benefits:
• “Happy Babies.
It’s true…carried babies cry less! In a study published in the journal Pediatrics, researchers found that babywearing for three hours a day reduced infant crying by 43 percent overall and 54 percent during evening hours. “
• “Healthy Babies
Premature babies and babies with special needs often enter the world with fragile nervous systems. When a baby rides in a sling attached to his mother, he is in tune with the rhythm of her breathing, the sound of her heartbeat, and the movements his mother makes—walking, bending, and reaching. This stimulation helps him to regulate his own physical responses. Research has even shown that premature babies who are touched and held gain weight faster and are healthier than babies who are not.”
• “Confident Parents
A large part of feeling confident as a parent is the ability to read our babies’ cues successfully. Holding our babies close in a sling allows us to become finely attuned to their movements, gestures, and facial expressions. Every time a baby is able to let us know that she is hungry, bored, or wet without having to cry, her trust in us is increased, her learning is enhanced, and our own confidence is reinforced. This cycle of positive interaction deepens the mutual attachment between parent and child, and is especially beneficial for mothers who are at risk for or suffering from postpartum depression.”
•” Loving Caregivers
Baby carriers are a great bonding tool for fathers, grandparents, adoptive parents, babysitters, and other caregivers. Imagine a new father going for a walk with his baby in a sling. The baby is becoming used to his voice, heartbeat, movements, and facial expressions, and the two are forging a strong attachment of their own. Baby carriers are beneficial for every adult in a baby’s
life. Cuddling up close in the sling is a wonderful way to get to know the baby in your life, and for the baby to get to know you!”
•”Comfort and Convenience
With the help of a good carrier, you can take care of older children or do chores without frequent interruptions from an anxious or distressed infant—which helps to reduce sibling rivalry. Baby carriers are also wonderful to use with older babies and toddlers; you can save those arms and go where strollers can’t. Climbing stairs, hiking, and navigating crowded airports all can be done with ease when you use a well-designed baby carrier!”
Okay, what’s the catch?
There isn’t one! If mother and baby are both content and mom is practicing safe babywearing techniques, there are no proven physical or emotional negative effects. This graphic includes the main babywearing techniques:
Great news, there are several babywearing groups in Iowa right here in Iowa! There is even a babywearing retreat happening in April.
I hope you’re learning something along with me. Please do not hesitate to comment below with your babywearing experiences, or any questions. Lastly, if you or someone you know would like to be featured in my next blog, email me at Hello@IowaBirth.org.
~ Intern Marianne