The Benefits of Babywearing
Babywearing is the practice of carrying your baby or toddler through the use of a baby carrier, sling, wrap or other style carrier. Babywearing has been practiced for centuries in various cultures around the world. It promotes bonding, supports breastfeeding, can help combat postpartum depression, and so much more. Whether it be Mom, Dad, Grandma, sibling or any other caregiver, we encourage you to learn more about the benefits of babywearing and explore this beatuful practice as a safe and effective parenting tool.
1. Carried Babies Cry Less!
Who wouldn't want a happy baby? Research shows that babies who are carried (either in parents' arms or in a baby sling carrier or wrap) cry LESS. In cultures where babies are carried almost continuously, babies cry much less than those in non-carrying cultures. (5)
2. Promotes Healthy Infant Development
Wearing your child in a wrap, sling or carrier will result in beneficial, permanent brain changes, enhancing baby’s IQ, in addition to the long-term benefits of baby wearing, including good health, psychological security and independence. (1)
3. Babywearing Counts As Tummy-Time!
Tummy-time is important for your baby's physical as well as emotional and intellectual development. It helps them learn to hold their head up, grasp at items to help develop motor skills, and observe the world around them (9). But you may have noticed that even though it's good for your baby, he may not be a huge fan of tummy-time. It's a serious workout! Wearing your baby in the Baby K'tan or other infant sling carriers and wraps will allow your baby to exercise his neck, head and back muscles. You can also hang a small toy from the side of the carrier to help your little one develop his motor skills. But best of all, you'll find that your baby gets this "babywearing tummy-time" regularly, and you don't have to schedule it into your day!
4. Frees Your Hands
Babywearing enables caregivers to to keep baby close and safe while still having both hands free. Caregivers have the freedom to care for other children and tend to everyday tasks while carrying their baby close to their heart.
5. Bond With Baby
Babies who are worn in a baby carrier, sling or wrap are significantly more likely to demonstrate a strong and secure attachment to their mothers, according to a study done at Columbia University. (4)
6. Good For Baby's Emotional Development
Babies are quickly able to develop a sense of security and trust when they are carried. They are more likely to be securely attached to their care-giver(s) and often become independent at an earlier age.
7. Advances Baby's Learning Abilities
Babies spend more time in a "quiet, alert state" when carried - the ideal state for learning. Studies indicate that 'worn' babies have improved visual and auditory alertness relative to children that are frequently left on the floor or in a crib or playpen. Other studies indicate that carried babies have improved speech development since they are more directly exposed to normal adult conversation and everyday life.
8. Enhances Baby's Social Development
By being so close to your body's rhythms, your baby "gets in rhythm" much more quickly. Your heartbeat, breathing, voice and warmth are all familiar. Research has shown how this helps infants to adapt to life outside the womb.
9. Good For Babies With Overwhelmed Caregivers
Parenting can be overwhelming and exhausting. You have work to do, there is laundry to be folded, there are errands to run, and you can't always hold your baby when they want to be held. Babywearing benefits you and your baby because it is a great way to connect with your child, provide stimulation for baby, and free up your hands. Babies need verbal interaction and eye contact, just to be reassured that you're there. A babywearing sling can help keep your little one close so that you can manage your day-to-day while still holding baby and providing the closeness they need. Additionally, your baby is "right there" to enjoy whenever you feel like snuggling or kissing!
10. Great For Other Caregivers
Baby sling carriers are a great bonding tool for fathers, grandparents, adoptive parents, babysitters, and other caregivers. Partners who work away from home, relatives and babysitters all have a ready way of connecting with and soothing your baby when they wear him or her.
11. Helps Prevent "Flat-Head" Syndrome
Studies have shown that nearly 1 in 2 babies in North America will suffer from positional plagiocephaly, or “flat head syndrome” (6). This is believed to be the result of over-using devices such as car seats, swings and bouncy seats, as well as the “Back to Sleep” program which was implemented in the early 90's. By regularly carrying your baby in a baby carrier, wrap or sling you will avoid the constant pressure that is placed on the back of your baby's head in these devices, and you will be promoting a healthy and natural head development!
12. Helps Decrease Risk of Postpartum Depression
Although talk therapy and medication remain some of the best treatments that medicine currently has to offer for mothers suffering from PPD, there may be another tool in the fight against PPD: a baby carrier, wrap or sling. Babywearing increases the amount of time spent practicing skin-to-skin with your baby. And when you add the benefits of getting to hold your baby “hands-free” and assistance with breastfeeding, these benefits give a boost of confidence and can help with the transition into motherhood and enhance a new mom's overall mental wellbeing, which research has connected to decreased rates of postpartum depression. (10) (11)
13. Nurse Discreetly
Babywearing can enhance and promote successful breastfeeding, shielding your baby from outside distractions while nursing. It may take a little practice, but once you get the hang of it, you get to nurse without anyone even noticing, especially if you carry in a Baby K’tan or another carrier. To allow for discreet nursing in public – when using the Baby K’tan Baby Carrier, use the wide fabric and extra loop to shield your nursing baby from public view and offer hands-free nursing, enabling you to go about your day. Learn more about breastfeeding in your carrier here.
14. Babies With Special Needs
Babies with special needs often enter the world with fragile, easily over-stimulated nervous systems. Parents attempt to find the proper balance – to provide their baby with the sensory nourishment he or she requires for optimal development, while simultaneously avoiding over-stimulation. Research has even shown that premature babies who are touched and held gain weight faster and are healthier than babies who are not. (2)
It is well known that children with developmental delays and special needs benefit from this extra stimulation, especially during the infant stage. Baby sling carriers create the ideal environment for development and growth. At the same time, they offer infants a tight, swaddled, deep pressure input, providing security and assurance to infants with Sensory Integration Dysfunction, and other developmental disorders, such as Down syndrome, Autism and Cerebral Palsy.
Studies have also shown that infants with hypotonia (low muscle tone) are adversely affected by infant sling carriers that place their legs in excessive abduction (legs spread too far apart) for the first few months of life. The Baby K’tan Baby Carrier allows for a position where babies can still face forward and see the world while having their legs in a more developmentally appropriate posture.
Many people are discovering how well babywearing benefits their lives. Try it for yourself!
Hunziker UA, Garr RG. (1986) Increased carrying reduces infant crying: A randomized controlled trial. Pediatrics 77:641-648
"Current knowledge about skin-to-skin (kangaroo) care for pre-term infants". J Perinatol. 1991 Sep; 11(3):216-26
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.
Anisfeld, E., Casper, V., Nozyce, M., & Cunningham, N. (1990). Does infant carrying promote attachment? An experimental study of the effects of increased physical contact on the development of attachment.
Babywearing., Wikipedia. Retrieved March 15, 2012, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Babywearing
Mawji, Aliyah, RN, Phd., Vollman, Ardene Robinson, RN, PhD., Hatfield, Jennifer, PhD., et al. The Incidence of Positional Plagiocephaly: A Cohort Study. Pediatrics, The Official Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics. 8 July, 2013.
Littlefield, Timothy R., MS. Car Seats, Infant Carriers, and Swings: Their Role in Deformational Plagiocephaly. American Academy of Orthotists and Prosthetists. JPO, 2003, Vol. 15, No. 3. pp. 102-106.
“Safe to Sleep” Official Webpage of the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. http://www.nichd.nih.gov/SIDS/Pages/sids.aspx