So today I want to talk to you about baby wearing. There are tons of baby carriers out there and nearly just as many patterns online to make one yourself. On top of that there are a lot of great reasons to carry….none of which I could figure out on my own. At some point when I have someone else to take pics I’ll also have to post some pics of me and Freya.
I knew Freya had benefited from it, but I had never been able to say why. So last night after carrying her all up and down Bardstown Rd in Louisville, I did some research. This is a bit of collaboration. The Natural Child Project had the best answers I could find. So I have taken what they have said and applied it with my own personal experience.
But let’s start at the beginning.
Why Baby Wear?
1. It’s convenient, especially when they are still an infant. It’s easier to get through a crowd with yourself and your baby than it is to with a stroller. I favor the carrier when I don’t want to deal with a stroller at all. Not to mention it made it easier for me as I couldn’t carry the detachable car seat and for a while there we didn’t have a detachable car seat. The sling can also be used for breastfeeding in public with a small child. And depending on the carrier, your child can fall asleep on you while you’re walking, making nap and bed time simpler. It also keeps your hands free for other things.
2. It promotes physical development. When a baby rides with mommy, it becomes attuned to her breathing, heartbeat, and movements. It helps them regulate their own movements and exercises their vestibular system, which controls balance. It is also like a transitional womb. Research has shown that preemie babies who are worn gain weight faster and are healthier than those who are not. Swings do not give these same benefits.
Now I didn’t buy this at first, but now I do. Freya wasn’t born premature, but she was small. She has two cousins the same age who weren’t worn (one premature and one not). Freya was crawling by four months and her cousins have just started crawling at eight and nine months. Now, that may not be the whole of the reason why she is currently ahead, but I do believe that it is a part of it. Children may develop at different rates, and that is okay, but there are things we can do to encourage them to do their best and I do believe baby wearing is one of those things.
3. Babies worn in slings are happier. Now this isn’t actually because of the sling. It’s because they are being held and are close to mommy or daddy. They don’t fuss as much and are far more chill. I can attest to this one myself. For the most part, Freya isn’t upset unless she’s wet, hungry, or tired. The only other time she gets riled up is when she wants to be held. And depending on the day, sometimes that means time in the baby carrier on my chest. And we don’t want our babies to cry too much. It just makes us upset, it wears them out, and it stresses both of us out.
I’ve found that when she’s had all the holding time she needs, she’s happier to explore the world around her, even if that still stresses me out. And even if your kid is happy already, they will love the new vantage point.
4. Baby wearing is good for me too! So I know I still haven’t really found much time to exercise and on the rare occasion that I do have a few extra minutes, I’m just way too tired to do anything other than stare at this screen like a zombie or watch a movie. However, you’d be surprised how much harder it is to go on a long walk with a baby in a sling. Jr there acts as great resistance for your training especially once they’re old enough to be worn on the back. It’s like walking and weightlifting at the same time….and it’s an added bonus that your baby loves it.
5. Toddlers like feeling secure. So most people think of slings and think you can only use them with infants, but that’s simply not true. Most slings accommodate up to 40 lbs. and some can support even more. The truth is that the world can be a scary place, but holding on to daddy or mommy makes it a bit better. I know people who have carried their babies in crowded places up to age five! I plan to do it until it starts to kill my back. It can also be very soothing when they get overstimulated and rowdy. Think about trying it next time you take your toddler to the zoo, aquarium, or museum. It’s much easier for them to see the exhibits as well.
6. Carriers foster parent baby communication. The more confidence we have in our parenting the easier it is to enjoy the time we have with our child. This is probably part of the reason why parents with multiple children are far more relaxed than the mommy or daddy of a single child. I had never realized it before reading the Natural child Project, but Freya and I communicate better when she is in the sling than not.
I remember when she was little and I wore her in the baby katan. I always knew right away when she was hungry or wet because it was just hard to miss. She was right there with me. I generally knew what was wrong before she even started crying. Of course, that created later frustration when I couldn’t carry her as much and didn’t understand why she was always upset with me, but now that makes more sense.
And when we can figure out what our babies need either right before or right after they start crying, they gain confidence in us. It becomes a cycle of positive interaction.
7. Carriers are great bonding tools for other members of the family. Daddy here has only recently started carrying. He doesn’t like to do it unless we are out and about. I’m hoping it will be easier for him now that I’ve built our Mai Tai Carrier, which we’ll talk about later this week. The baby needs to learn to attune to other figures in their lives as much as the mom or dad.
8. Carriers are a safe place for baby. If baby is right on your back, hip or chest, you don’t have to worry about them running about. They also provide emotional security so our children can become independent at their own pace.
9. Carriers are economical. A baby carrier can be cheaper than a stroller, especially if you make one yourself.
10. Baby wearing is fun. Who doesn’t want to cuddle a baby while they go about their day or talk to a toddler on their back? It’s also great to watch her up close and personal as she sees the world from your view. It’s great for her as well because she can see adults at their level.
Finally, I really just love carrying my baby. I wasn’t sure why I was so dead set on it, but I knew the instant I learned about carriers that I wanted one. I need to use mine more than I already do. I love having Freya right up next to me cuddling and cooing in my ear.