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Babywearing 101: Benefits of Babywearing

Posted Jul 23 2009 11:33pm

Babywearing by Dad The day that I found myself at Bloomingfoods shopping for groceries, with my preemie infant nursing, hands-free, in her sling, and my not-quite-two-year-old (I know–scandal! And yet they play together soooo well) sitting in the shopping cart, and I was actively CHECKING OUT with the cashier at the time, I knew that I was basically the most awesomest mother. Ever.

We talk a lot about babywearing here at Eco Child’s Play, and for good reason. Babywearing, or the act of wearing your baby on your body for a good part of the day, generally (although not always) in a native-style carrier, has a lot of real benefits for all kinds of kids and all kinds of parents.

As a babywearing instructor here in my community, I’ve had a lot of practice teaching parents about babywearing and helping them learn the right ways to carry their babies, and I plan to share all my wealth of knowledge here with you.

First up–benefits of babywearing:

1. Babywearing helps babies cry less.

Generally speaking, babies like to be held. Babies don’t like to be alone, but vastly prefer contact with bodies. Evolutionarily speaking, this is a beneficial and life-preserving instinct for a baby to possess–perhaps it kept more prehistoric parents from leaving their babies alone to be snatched up by predators? Depending on the baby’s temperament, being put down and left can be confusing, frightening, and stressful for the baby.

2. Babywearing is good for the baby intellectually.

Baby’s job is to learn about her world. When worn, she learns about bodies, about movement and motion, about the environment around her, and about human behavior.

3. Babywearing is good for the baby physically.

Conforming to a warm body shape is more comfortable than having to conform to a Snugli-type carrier, an infant car seat, or a crib. The constant motion of being worn stimulates a baby’s balance reflex and her inner ear. Proper positioning (which I’ll discuss in a later post) is good for hip and joint development. Being worn also helps a baby avoid flat head syndrome. For a newborm, the wearer’s body temperature helps the baby regulate her body temperature, and the wearer’s respiration reminds the baby to breathe.

4. Babywearing socializes the baby.

While being worn, the baby learns about people and their behavior, and what the world is like. The baby sees faces from near their head-height, not below, and thus sees dialogue and nonverbal expressions, and experiences interaction safely. Proper positioning also allows the baby to gauge her own appropriate level of stimulation.

5. Mothers can breastfeed conveniently on demand while babywearing–hands-free, even.

6. Babywearing is especially beneficial for children with special needs–preemies, children who are ill or injured, children with mental or physical delays, children who have failure to thrive. Babywearing is comforting and calming, and yet good for the baby’s brain at the same time. The less energy that a baby spends crying or fussing or feeling stressed or maintaining her own body temperature, the more energy she can spend on growing and learnng and healing.

For more about babywearing and its benefits see Baby Essentials that Aren’t: Strollers.

There are good ways and not-so-good ways to wear your baby, of course, and I’ll tell you about those next time, in Babywearing Do’s and Don’ts.

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