Thursday, July 19, 2012

Benefits of Babywearing

Whether you're new to baby wearing or not, I'm sure you can think of some really great benefits to having your baby close to you - er - *on* you.

I was first introduced to baby wearing when my youngest brother was a baby. He's 14 years younger than me, so I was old enough to have a major role in caring for him. My mom had some kind of carrier back then...I think it must have been similar to a Bjorn, but I can't say for sure. I just know I absolutely loved to use it. It was so friggin convenient while doing dishes or other chores around the house to be able to hold him so he wouldn't cry, have him comfortable, and frankly, who can resist having a precious babe so snuggled up to you - especially without putting forth much effort?

I have always loved the idea of wearing babies, and even well before hubby and I had kiddos, I would recommend it to friends of mine...particularly ones that had fussy babies who never wanted to be put down therefore mamas felt like they couldn't get anything done. I never knew what they were called, or that there were different types, or even that there was a correct way to wear babies, but there was something in me ever since the tender age of 14 that knew it was a good thing.

Only pretty recently have I even learned about all the different ways to wear babies, different carriers, and how truly beneficial it really is. With our first, my sister-in-law gave me her Bjorn, so I used it relatively often and wore Vienna around while doing things around the house. She wasn't a baby that always wanted to be held, though, so I didn't wear her *all* the time...just when I thought about it and needed to for whatever reason.

When I was pregnant with Porter, my sister Renee and I were talking with a friend of ours who had recently had a baby (Renee had also just had her first baby and I was pregnant, so we had a lot to talk about *wink*). Anyway, our friend was using a Moby. I saw it and fell in love pretty instantly. We had her demonstrate how to wrap it, etc, and she proclaimed her love for it as well. I'm pretty blessed to have such a wonderful sister, because as my "baby gift" when I had Porter, she gave me one. I was SO excited!! I figured out how to use it immediately, and absolutely *loved* how comfy and secure my precious newborn was while I wore him...I continued to wear him throughout baby-hood, and even now once in awhile I'll throw him in a sling if he's wanting to be held and I am busy doing other things.

There are so many benefits to baby wearing. I've borrowed this official list of benefits from the Babywearing International website, but truly, I think you only have to wear your baby one time to fall in love with it and to understand how wonderful wearing your little one is.

Benefits of Babywearing

Medical professionals agree that infants thrive through touch; “wearing” your baby is another way to meet this need. But the benefits of babywearing don’t end there … babywearing offers many other advantages, some of which include:

• Happy Babies. It’s true … carried babies cry less! In a study published in the journal Pediatrics, researchers found that babywearing for three hours a day reduced infant crying by 43 percent overall and 54 percent during evening hours. (1)
• Healthy Babies. Premature babies and babies with special needs often enter the world with fragile nervous systems. When a baby rides in a sling attached to his mother, he is in tune with the rhythm of her breathing, the sound of her heartbeat, and the movements his mother makes—walking, bending, and reaching. This stimulation helps him to regulate his own physical responses. Research has even shown that premature babies who are touched and held gain weight faster and are healthier than babies who are not. (2)
• Confident Parents. A large part of feeling confident as a parent is the ability to read our babies’ cues successfully. Holding our babies close in a sling allows us to become finely attuned to their movements, gestures, and facial expressions. Every time a baby is able to let us know that she is hungry, bored, or wet without having to cry, her trust in us is increased, her learning is enhanced, and our own confidence is reinforced. This cycle of positive interaction deepens the mutual attachment between parent and child, and is especially beneficial for mothers who are at risk for or suffering from postpartum depression. (3) (4)
• Loving Caregivers. Baby carriers are a great bonding tool for fathers, grandparents, adoptive parents, babysitters, and other caregivers. Imagine a new father going for a walk with his baby in a sling. The baby isbecoming used to his voice, heartbeat, movements, and facial expressions, and the two are forging a strong attachment of their own. Baby carriers are beneficial for every adult in a baby’s life. Cuddling up close in the sling is a wonderful way to get to know the baby in your life, and for the baby to get to know you!
•Comfort and Convenience. With the help of a good carrier, you can take care of older children or do chores without frequent interruptions from an anxious or distressed infant—which helps to reduce sibling rivalry. Baby carriers are also wonderful to use with older babies and toddlers; you can save those arms and go where strollers can’t. Climbing stairs, hiking, and navigating crowded airports all can be done with ease when you use a well-designed baby carrier!
1 - Hunziker UA, Garr RG. (1986) Increased carrying reduces infant crying: A random-ized controlled trial. Pediatrics 77:641-648
2 - “Current knowledge about skin-to-skin (kangaroo) care for pre-term infants”. J Perinatol. 1991 Sep;11(3):216-26.
3 - Pelaez-Nogueras M, Field TM, Hossain Z, Pickens J. (1996). Depressed mothers’ touching increases infants’ positive affect and attention in still-face interactions. Child Development, 67, 1780-92.
4 - Tessier R, M Cristo, S Velez, M Giron, JG Ruiz-Palaez, Y Charpak and N Charpak. (1998) Kangaroo mother care and the bonding hypothesis. Pediatrics 102:e17.


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