Baby wearing or carrying – ever heard of it? I’m sure you’ve seen all the fancy carriers parents have these days, but I’m here to tell you that this isn’t just some new trend. Baby wearing has been around for a LONG time, in different countries, across various cultures. I recently read a post about a woman who traveled to Kenya (her native country), who observed babies and children being carried or worn by their relatives. The other thing she observed was that the babies rarely cried. She asked her grandmother why the babies didn’t cry as often there as compared to the US. Her response was “Nyonyo” (breastfeed) the babies whenever they fuss. So basically – meet the needs of the baby. Keep them feeling safe and warm like they did in the womb and feed them when they’re hungry. Sounds pretty simple doesn’t it?
Call me old fashioned, but when I was making our baby registry I didn’t register for any of the fancy chairs, swings or shhh machines. I did however register for a couple of different types of carriers. I tried to keep it pretty minimal, based only on the things we would really NEED. I knew that I would want our baby girl close to me once she was born, but I also knew that I would still need to get some things done (which requires using your hands). I wasn’t sure if Tallulah would like any of the carriers, but I wanted to give them a try. The week we brought her home I wrapped her up and carried her around, she slept peacefully; didn’t make a peep unless she was hungry.
Growing up, I was told by many people that I know not to hold babies too much because they’ll become “spoiled”. So that’s what I thought – babies need to be able to be put down and they will learn how to soothe themselves. Looking back, I can’t help but think how naive I was, simply following what other people told me. After working with babies and children for half of my life, becoming a doula and now, as a first time mother – my opinion is radically different. Babies go from being warm, snuggled, listening to their mama’s heartbeat and feeling safe in the womb for 9 months, to being born into a cold, loud, bright world. How the hell can we expect them to adapt so quickly? Answer: it’s just not realistic. Quick tip: if your baby has slept, been fed and changed but is still fussing when you put them down – maybe they just want to be snuggled!
Okay, let’s get into the benefits of baby wearing. One thing I love about it is that there are benefits for BOTH the parent/caregiver and baby, not just one or the other.
- decreases the risk of flat head syndrome and SIDS
- allows the caregiver to be hands free, while still keeping the baby close
- if breastfeeding, baby can nurse while in the carrier
- can help with gastrointestinal health (ex: if baby has acid reflux, keeping them upright can help prevent gas and in turn, fussiness due to it!)
- promotes baby’s development, physically and emotionally
- creates a calm energy because baby feels that their needs are being met
- strengthens the bond between the baby and parent/caregiver by keeping them close (especially during the fourth trimester)
- can help fussy babies sleep (they’re used to being warm and listening to a heart beat)
- the closeness of baby wearing produces a hormone called Oxytocin (also known as the “cuddle hormone”), which promotes bonding and attachment