There isn’t much in the world that compares to having your baby in your arms – the feeling of your sleeping new bundle of joy against your chest, the sweet smelling downy head under your nose.
These are moments every parent holds dear in those early newborn days – and all the days after that too.
But as much as we’d like it to, life waits for no man – or mum. Errands need running and things need doing.
‘Babywearing’ – the use of baby slings and carriers – allows a busy parent the freedom to continue their normal daily routine while providing a rich and nurturing environment for their child.
So, what are the advantages of babywearing?
Happy, Calm and Content
After birth, a baby will feel reassured by the familiarity of a parent’s heartbeat, body temperature, smell, and breathing patterns. This familiarity will smooth out the transition from womb to world. A randomised controlled test report in Paediatrics showed that carrying babies reduces crying and fussiness 43% during the day and 51% at night.
Ideal Learning Environment
When a baby is happy, they are usually quiet and alert, and can take in more of the world around them. Babywearing offers baby the optimum position to experience the richness of this new world they are in within the safety of a parent’s arms.
Being carried for extended periods encourages baby to learn what external cues mean sleep time, and that helps to develop circadian rhythms. Babywearing promotes deeper, longer, and more peaceful sleep cycles, and this is vital for brain maturation.
The simple act of touching a baby stimulates growth hormones and the vestibular system. Carrying them means they are being touched all the time. This stimulation regulates a baby’s physiology, promotes respiration, and increases cardiac output and circulation.
Developmental neurologists have discovered that the child of a mother who moves every day while pregnant shows clear developmental advantages, just as a carried child develops greater physical and nerve strength.
Fast Food – the good kind
Babywearing offers constant and easy access to an infant’s food source, if breastfeeding. The increased skin to skin contact enjoyed by babywearers also stimulates breast milk supply.
Helps Digestion, relieves Colic
Baby slings and carriers keep baby in an upright position, which promotes digestion. A baby’s acupressure points for digestion and sleep are located on the belly and the lower insides of the thighs. These points are automatically massaged through babywearing.
The benefits of babywearing for parents and caregivers
Babywearing is healthy for you! A good carrier offers parents the freedom of being able to use both hands, allowing them to enjoy an active lifestyle indoors or outdoors. Parents’ muscular strength also develops in relation to the baby’s growing weight.
Babywearing can reduce the risk of postnatal depression. Babywearing helps parents balance their needs with those of their baby. Baby carriers help prevent life becoming completely dictated by baby. This sense of personal freedom and flexibility may well reduce the potential risk of post-natal depression which is often associated with being housebound and missing out on much-needed social interactions.
With examples found across every age and culture, baby slings and carriers are the world’s most ancient parenting tools, respecting a baby’s biological need for physical closeness and a parent’s functional need to be hands-free.
Read more about Baby Sling Safety here.
– This article was kindly supplied by Anita Lincolne-Lomax, Director of Babes in Arms – Babywearing Week 2014 – October 5-11