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By Ruth Nchekei

23rd July 2021

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Benefits of babywearing to moms and their babies

Babywearing is the use of a carrier or sling to carry a baby close against one’s body. It helps caregivers of babies and infants have the best of both worlds: Ability to provide comfort to a baby and the convenient use of hands to carry out certain tasks. 

Caregivers, especially mothers are instinctively wired to respond to a baby’s need to be carried close. This is why baby wearing spans centuries and cultures. Baby wearing is not a trend or some sort of philosophy. It’s part of evolutionary instinct, not just in humans but also animals. 

However, babywearing as part of maternal instinct, doesn’t mean all mothers carry their babies. There are mothers who don’t carry their babies close due to, say, postpartum depression, financial survival or even culture. 

Here are the benefits of babywearing for both you and baby

Travel convenience

With babywearing, it is possible to move around without getting extra exhausted. You can go for a hike; visit the zoo; navigate airports with your suitcases or go to the beach– all with a baby in a ring sling or baby carrier.

Also, in crowded tourist spots, it’s easier to walk through people when carrying your baby in a baby carrier, as opposed to pushing a stroller.

Babywearing while travelling is also secure for the baby as they are closer to you, lessening chances of a kidnap or random kisses from a stranger. 

Reduces risk of flat-head syndrome

Flat-head syndrome, also known as positional plagiocephaly, occurs when a baby’s head is turned the same side while sleeping. 

Flat-head syndrome is basically a flat spot. It’s not only brought about by sleep, but also by devices like baby rockers, car seats and swings. 

Basically, babies’ core muscles aren’t well developed to help them sit, making them naturally predisposed to lying on their backs even when just chilling. Maybe part of the reason they cry is because of the tiresomeness and boredom that comes with lying on their backs for long. 

Babywearing has been recommended by many pediatricians as the remedy to flat-head syndrome. 

Instead of putting your baby on a rocker to lull them to sleep, how about using a sling to rock them? Instead of driving to the grocery store with the baby in the car seat, why not use a baby carrier and walk to the store with the baby close to you? 

Aids with increased production of breast milk

Having your baby close will help you be more responsive to their feeding cues; and the more you breastfeed on demand, the more the breast milk supply.

Also, babies who are carried are calm, cry less, making it easier to transition them from a calm state to a nursing state.

Babywearing is rewarding in that it will help you bond with your baby and nurture your maternal instincts, hence adding to your confidence and happiness as a mother. A happy and confident mother results in more supply of breast milk. 

Great way to keep up with life

There are simple but important tasks you can do while babywearing. Tasks like picking the phone, writing a shopping list, folding laundry or even doing dishes.

With a baby, it can be extremely hard navigating around chores and other tasks that get life going.

Why?

Babies always want to be carried in an upright position, making your hands tied.

Using a ring sling or a baby carrier means being hands free enough to do what needs to be done. 

Lowers risk of postpartum depression

Postpartum depression is a reality among many women and yes it can be alleviated by babywearing.

One way of fighting PPD is: Following the maternal instincts driving you to want to cater to your baby’s needs.

One of the needs is wanting to be close enough to you.

When you feel trapped on the couch by baby blues, you can wear your baby using a baby carrier or ring sling, and go out for a walk.

Also, with your hands free while baby wearing, you will be able to do tasks and the reward hormone, dopamine, will make you less depressed. 

Baby is calmer

The study by Hunziker and Barr (1986), gave a conclusion that “young infants who experienced supplemental carrying cried and fussed 43% less overall.” To back this, “infants under 6 months of age carried by a walking mother immediately stopped voluntary fussiness and crying and exhibited a rapid heart rate decrease, compared to when held by a sitting mother.”

Calm babies and infants are easier to cater to overall.

If you are wondering why your baby or infant is always fussy or constantly crying, think of when you last carried them. Remember, carrying needs not be using your hands all the time as that will get you feeling trapped. There are carriers for baby wearing. 

Infantino Flip Advanced 4-in-1 Carrier – Ergonomic, convertible, face-in and face-out front and back carry for newborns and older babies 8-32 lbs

Great way for baby to bond with other family members

Mothers shouldn’t be the only caregivers.

Baby wearing makes it much easier for everyone in the family a chance to care for the baby, when, say, the mother is at work or sleeping.

Grandparents, siblings, uncles and aunties want to be known by the new family member and baby wearing your baby is a good way for them to bond. Let them.

Improves baby’s cognitive and social development

Baby wearing puts your baby at a conversational height, thus enhancing their speech development.

Your baby gets to intimately participate in the things you are doing, while actively processing behavioral patterns, which in turn help them ‘join the dots’ later in their developmental processes.

Try washing dishes while baby wearing and see how keen your infant is. 

Enhances privacy while breastfeeding

Breastfeeding is a challenging task for any mom, especially new moms. Then add breastfeeding while baby wearing? Sounds like another unpleasant challenge but it’s not.

It requires practise though.

What new moms should know about breastfeeding.

Milk bar breast pumps explains in detail how to breastfeed while baby wearing. Important points to remember when breastfeeding while baby wearing are:

  • Ensure your baby’s airways are free from any obstructions.
  • The baby should be in a nursing position only when actively breastfeeding

Lessens risk of otitis media

Reflux in babies is not uncommon, but an upright position should prevent gastric contents from refluxing into the middle ear through the nasopharynx, causing deafness (otitis media).

Baby wearing reduces the risk of deafness in babies as a result of reflux. 

Pro tip: anytime your baby is sleeping on its back, ensure the head is tilted to the side to avoid choking on gastric contents.

A babywearing tip you could use: Your little one should be close enough to kiss. This means carrying your baby in a way they’ll be high so that their chins don’t fall.

What has been stopping you from wearing your baby? Or, what has your experience been like wearing your baby? Let’s know in the comments section.

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