Human babies are meant to be close to their primary caregivers. Being close is both natural and necessary. With only 25% of their adult brain growth at birth, babies are helpless and rely on us to feed, clothe and care for them.
Babywearing is one way to keep our little ones close and easily tend to their innate needs. But babywearing offers so much more than this – the benefits of babywearing extend beyond babies – caregivers, primary or otherwise, benefit from the experience too.
Babywearing can be incorporated into most people’s lives in some capacity – wearing your baby doesn’t mean giving up your stroller or your crib. Having twins or triplets, a surgical births or other birth experiences, and injuries, can affect your babywearing abilities. But these experiences are not completely limiting – there are wraps and carriers to accommodate most bodies. Plus, babywearing can also be adopted by other caregivers.
Babywearing encourages the whole family to become more involved with caring for a child, which can help to strengthen family dynamics and relationships. And importantly, as anyone that has worn their baby will tell you, baby wearing is both special and so much fun.
Here’s 4 reasons to inspire your family to get involved in babywearing:
1. Babywearing helps even out the parental load.
There is currently an amazing shift across parenting practices in Western culture. Rather than a one parent job, we’re seeing a greater appreciation that raising a baby really does take a village.
Studies have shown that partners who wear their babies, feel more connected to their little ones. And those feelings of connection help intrinsically motivate them to be actively involved with their families.
Plus, involving partners or other caregivers in the world of babywearing can quite literally be ‘a dream’ for the primary caregiver. Getting partners involved in babywearing can help give the primary caregiver well deserved space and time to have a nap themselves, without worrying about their little one.
2. Babywearing helps with security, attachment and growth.
By carrying a baby, they become accustomed to your smell, your body and voice, and will subsequently associate positive feelings with you. This is true for all caregivers – it is well known that babies will respond more easily to caregivers, other than their primary ones, for their sleep and primal needs, if they create a bond with them early on.
Keeping your baby close also facilitates nurturing touch, which encourages baby’s physical, emotional and mental development. Babies learn by observing and responding to their caregivers. By keeping them close they can observe your expressions, hear your words, and respond. There really is nothing like seeing the baby you love, tucked on your body and smiling (and chattering!) up at you. Plus, studies show that babies whose needs are met quickly exhibit more independence, confidence and adaptability, as they grow.
Babywearing can also help get baby more sleep, which helps them stay healthy, keeps them happy, and (importantly!) a well rested baby makes our days, as parents, easier. Babies are easily soothed by the familiar thump of a heartbeat, and the closeness, warmth and motion of babywearing, which encourages deeper more restful sleep.
These feelings of attachment, bonding and growth are equally important for parents – you are laying the foundation for your lifelong relationship with your child.
3. Babywearing makes you feel good.
Being close to a baby or child that you care for releases oxytocin, the feel-good hormone. This means that both you and your baby are likely to feel happier, loved and more secure. Plus, positive touch helps to reduce stress, regulate heat, breathing and heart rates, and it can also act as natural pain relief – for babies and their caregivers.
Babywearing also helps your body stay strong. While a tiny newborn may seem like it weighs nothing, carrying a human that is growing at the fastest rate it will EVER grow, is significant. Babywearing can help strengthen muscles, keep cardio levels up and promote the release of positive endorphins. We can sway, rock and walk with a baby to soothe them and help our own bodies while doing so.
Wearing a baby also invites social growth, by inviting conversations and social interactions. Not only can you meet fellow babywearing parents in local babywearing specific groups, you’ll likely bond with fellow babywearing parents that you pass on the street or meet in the park as well.
4. Babywearing helps you explore the world freely.
For any parent, getting outside with a baby can be a challenge – the tick list of things to do beforehand and items to bring along can feel endless. Babywearing helps parents get out a little more easily, access fresh air and vitamin D, which all helps with mood and perspective.
As the Toronto retailer, Allie Dennis of Little Zen One, reminds us, “babywearing takes us places”. Babywearing offers you the ability to move more freely. It is easier to pick up and go, light and easy, and allows you explore off the beaten track. It makes air, train, bus or subway travel exponentially easier and more enjoyable.
Whether it’s to the kitchen to make yourself a meal, to the coffee shop to meet a friend, or on a trip across the country to see family, babywearing allows you to navigate your daily life “hands-free”.
Babywearing offers families a tool that can benefit everyone, in immediate and long term ways. We’ve offered 4 reasons but the list of benefits truly is expansive.
Let us know: Have you been wearing your baby or toddler? What is your favourite element of babywearing?
Thinking about babywearing but don’t know where to start?
Find a Babywearing Educator near you to source more information.
Additional information for this blog was sourced from: http://www.pinterandmartin.com/why-babywearing-matters.html
Kate is a Birth and Postpartum Doula, Childbirth Educator, Infant Sleep Educator and Yoga Instructor, currently living in Toronto, ON. When she’s not supporting new families on their parenting journey, she is running after her wonderfully active 2-year-old twins. She loves exploring the ravines of the city, drinking green tea and green smoothies (in large mugs), and the colour purple.