OK a lot of people might ask “What in the world is baby wearing?” Simply out baby wearing is the practice of carrying or “wearing” an infant in a sling or another form of carrier. Baby wearing has been practiced for centuries if not millennia around the world and has gained popularity in recent decades. This is partly due to the growing trend of attachment parenting plus it is a convenient form of transportation. There are also several benefits of baby wearing, particularly building a stronger bond with your child, which are described below.
Babies who are kept close to their parents in a sling actually seem to forget how to cry and fuss. A 1986 Montreal study reported that out of 99 mother-baby pairs those provided with a sling and assigned to carry their babies for at least three (extra) hours a day experienced 43% less crying than the non-wearing group. Anthropologists who have travelled the world agree that cultures which wear their babies have far fewer crying infants as they are closer to their mothers for much longer periods of time that babies in Western cultures where baby-wearing is not as frequently utilized.
When you wear your baby you don’t have to worry about a stroller or baby carrier leaving you to move around more freely. A sling can even allow for discrete nursing and double as a changing pad, blanket, and/or cushion. Slings are especially handy in busy, crowded places such as airports when you need to reach things quickly.
Since wearing your baby can reduce fussing, he or she needs something to do with all of that free time and studies suggest that sling babies spend more time in a state of quiet awareness as they take in their surroundings and learn. Infants are most content in this state and are best able to interact with their environment which develops visual and auditory alertness. This calm state also allows parents to more effectively interact with their baby.
When a baby is in a sling it is in tune with the mother’s rhythmic breathing and the movements the mother makes such as walking, bending, and reaching. This stimulation helps to develop and regulate an infant’s physical responses as it exercises the vestibular system which controls balance. The sling serves as an exterior “womb” for new babies who have not yet learned how to control body functions and movements plus premature babies who are worn in slings have been shown to gain weight faster and be healthier than babies not worn in slings.
Mothers are not the only ones who should wear slings as baby wearing allows for bonding between a baby and other caretakers such as fathers and grandparents. This way the baby has an opportunity to bond with other people and learn their rhythms as well as the mother’s. Fathers don’t have an automatic head start on bonding but a baby sling is a great way to catch up on even a day of lost time.