There are many reasons to babywear from birth, well into toddlerhood and beyond. From health and wellness benefits to convenience, babywearing is a helpful tool that parents and caregivers can benefit from nearly as much as the baby themselves.
For infants, baby carriers make the transition for the womb to the outside world easier, close contact keeps baby near a beating heart and keeps the constant motion they experienced in the womb. Toddlers thrive on touch with the love and reassurance it provides. Babywearing gives you and your little one a special connection while you tackle your daily activities.
"Touch is not an emotional fringe benefit for infants. It is as necessary as the air they breathe." -Sharon Heller, pHD
Babywearing adheres to our biological nature
Babies are born with the natural grasping reflex to cling to their mothers. Babywearing fulfills this natural instinct (Stay At Home Mum, 2009).
Lowers incidence of illness
Studies have shown that babywearing is linked to lowering the incidence of SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome), behavioral disorders and postpartum depression in mothers (Babywearing, 2010).
Advances social development
Infants are physically closer to people and intimately involved in their caregiver's environment. According to Dr. Sears, "baby becomes aware of, and learns from, all the subtle facial expressions, body language, voice inflections and tones, breathing patterns and emotions of the caregiver." Babies are exposed to the all the aspects of being human through their caregiver, increasing social development (Sears).
Babies in a content and safe environment are able to be more alert and aware of their surroundings, providing the perfect environment for learning. This also provides the parent with an opportunity for increased interaction and bonding time with their baby. Carried babies are able to learn language more quickly since they are positioned at voice and eye level. They become more involved in conversations and begin to learn how to listen (Sears).
Makes sibling care easier
Carrying baby enables the caregiver to have both hands free. Caregivers have the freedom to care for other children while carrying their baby close (Sears).
Provides fathers with a soothing touch
A father who participates in babywearing can actually soothe a fussy baby. Fathers can hold babies close and talk, hum or sing which is calming to babies (Asaff, 2009).
Reduces crying significantly
Just three hours a day of babywearing significantly reduces crying (Babywearing, 2010).
Decreases the risk of flat head syndrome
This syndrome is caused by the babies spending too much time in car seats or sleeping on their backs. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that babies should spend minimal amount of time in car seats when not used in a motor vehicle. Babywearing does not require babies to lie flat, thus no pressure is placed on the baby's head. Additionally, babies can be carried while they sleep, further reducing the amount of time they spend flat on their backs (Babywearing, 2010).
Increases hormone levels
Prolactin and oxytocin levels in the mother are increased through contact with baby. Increased levels of mothering hormones leads to easier breastfeeding, more responsible mothering and a more secure maternal bond (Babywearing, 2010). Additionally these hormones inhibit the negative impact of stress on the mother(O'Mara, 2010).
Establishes independence earlier
Normal environmental sounds have the potential to be both a learning and a disturbing experience. When alone and not held, babies can be frightened by sounds. When carried, babies use these sounds as a vehicle for learning. The caregiver provides soothing words to help the baby overcome fears, providing the baby with a positive association between the caregiver's voice and the disturbing sounds. Now the baby is more comfortable with the environment and ready to explore with confidence (Sears).
Promotes strong attachment
A study at Columbia University compared the levels of attachment of babies carried in a baby carrier vs. babies carried in a car seat. Results indicated that, at 13 months old, babies who were carried in wearable carriers were significantly more likely to demonstrate a strong and secure attachment to their mothers (Anisfeld, Casper, Nozyce, & Cunningham, 1990).
Provides a sense of organization
The rhythms of the parent walking, heartbeat, etc. provide a balancing and soothing effect on babies (Babywearing, 2010). According to Dr. Sears, "regular parental rhythms have a balancing effect on the infant's irregular rhythms. Babywearing 'reminds' the baby of and continues the motion and balance he enjoyed in the womb" (Sears).