It’s not unusual for a baby to want to be held all the time (or even a toddler, for that matter). After all, your newborn spent nine months cuddled up close to you. But maybe you’d like your hands free to take care of your older children, to make yourself a snack, or move laundry from the washer to the dryer.
Enter babywearing - whether you choose a sling or wrap or another type of carrier, your hands are freed while your baby still gets the contact he craves. But beyond helping you get things done, babywearing has benefits for your baby. Here are the top 5:
- Your baby will cry less: Babies cry to signal a need - it’s their main form of communication in the early months and weeks. But crying is stressful for parents - especially when you’ve fed and changed your baby but he’s still fussy. Try carrying him in a sling - not only when he’s fussy - but more often throughout the day. One study showed that when babies are carried an extra 3 hours daily, they crying at 6 weeks of age is cut in half.
- Breastfeeding is easier: When your baby is close to your body, you’ll notice the very early cues that he’s getting hungry. You can easily offer the breast at the first sign of hunger. This is especially useful if your baby is gaining weight slowly and needs to eat more often. A bonus - in public, the sling or wrap provides a little bit of cover for nursing if you’re feeling the need to be more discreet.
- You are aiding baby’s development: Your baby’s muscles and balance will develop well from moving along with you. And his brain will grow as he is exposed to more stimulation in the environment from his vantage point high on your body and moving around (as opposed to simply lying stationary in a carrier or on a blanket). The sling at the same time allows him to turn toward you when he’s overstimulated, giving his growing brain a break. He will develop socially by seeing what you’re seeing and interacting with people you are interacting with - all from the safety of your body.
- Your baby is safer: Everyone loves to cuddle a newborn - passing germs along as they do - but they’re much less likely to touch your baby when he’s attached to your body. When your baby starts to be mobile - rolling, crawling, cruising, walking - the sling can keep him safe when you are in public or when you need to leave the room and cannot supervise what he’s doing.
- Your baby is easier to transport: A sling or wrap is much more portable than a stroller and is much lighter (and less bulky) than a car seat carrier. You can get into those tight aisles between racks at the department store more easily with baby in a sling, and you can navigate the busy city streets without bumping into passersby.
For safety’s sake, be sure your newborn is “close enough to kiss” - tightly wrapped in the sling or wrap high up on our body. Be sure his airway is open at all times (and that his chin isn’t on his chest which can compromise his breathing). Always check your carrier for wear before use - loose stitching or rings, frayed fabric, etc. Use common sense in your activities - for example, don’t cook or drink hot beverages while you’re babywearing.
Ready to learn more? Babywearing International is a great place to start.