Babies, and humans in general, need to be touched in a loving, reassuring, comforting way. In the modern society we’re largely afraid of touch, and that’s a real shame. If you’re not going to hug your friends, at the very least hug (and carry, and hold, and wear) your kids. I realize the lawyer’s not going to wear her newborn into court, nor is the pilot going to wear his baby on the plane. But babies need touch. Full-on attachment is probably ideal, in a perfect world – but don’t beat yourself up if you can’t. It’s not a perfect world… Nevertheless, you don’t necessarily need to follow an “all or nothing” approach. You can still carry your baby as often as you can and as much as you feel like in your personal circumstances to feel lots of real benefits.
BENEFITS TO THE BABY
Skin-to-skin contact increases oxytocin, sometimes known as the “cuddle hormone” or the hormone responsible for bonding. Babies who are carried have higher levels of oxytocin and are found to be more content, less fussy, settle quicker and sleep more deeply. Their digestion is generally better and this is believed to greatly ease the symptoms of colic and reflux.
Babies cry less
Did you know that In cultures where mothers traditionally carry their babies on their bodies, babies cry up to 51% less of the time and post-natal depression is an unknown concept. Having your baby so close allows you to become quickly attuned to her signals. A sling creates a cozy, snug environment where the baby can hear your heartbeat and it is reassuring and calming for them as it mimics being in the womb.
Better and faster development
When babies are relaxed, their biological systems are not stressed. This means that their heart and breathing rates are optimal, their digestive system works at its best, and their temperature is suitably regulated. Research has shown that babies develop best, both emotionally and mentally when they feel secure and relaxed at this early time in their lives.
The physical and psychological benefits associated with baby-wearing encourage children to feel secure and content and build a solid sense of self-esteem. Babies, who are in a sling are in a state of “quiet alertness”, which is optimal for learning. They are at the right height to see and hear everything that you are doing, and they can interact easily. It is an ideal, comfy and safe spot from which to learn, view the world, hear you talking, and see all the things that you do.
Less separation anxiety
Babies who are carried are less clingy and tend to initiate separation much earlier than babies less frequently held. It allows your child to be AT the centre of activity, not be THE center of attention, which is a wonderful environment proven to stimulate brain development and cognitive learning.
Baby wearing increases the mother’s ability to breastfeed, just like co-sleeping increases it, simply because of proximity. When you’ve got a hungry little fellow within striking distance of the “bottle” at all times, it’s hard not to do it more often. You all know how important breastmilk is to a baby. Babywearing streamlines the logistics of breastfeeding, oftentimes allowing the mother to nurse hands-free.
Babywearing promotes exclusive breastfeeding. One randomized controlled trial found that early skin-to-skin contact “significantly enhanced the success of first breastfeed and continuation of exclusive breastfeeding.”
Having your baby attached to you, rather than laid out on a mat somewhere, allows you to bottle feed and still reap the benefits of being physically close to your child. The composition of the breastmilk is a huge benefit to breastfeeding, but the mutual touch is equally important.
BENEFITS TO THE PARENT
I cringe every time I see a mom or dad carting around those removable car seats. Imagine lugging around an oversized kettlebell where ever you go and you’ll get the idea. You might get stronger, but the added, unceasing, ever-increasing weight, plus the awkwardness of the size and shape of the seat which forces you to hold it away from your body and thereby increase the lever arm, can put your musculoskeletal system at risk. So let me go through some of the most common benefits of baby wearing to the parents.
You can breastfeed with ease
The long tail has many uses, and can serve as a sun-shade or allow you breastfeeding privacy. You can even tuck it away to create a different look.
You can save hundreds of euros on prams and strollers when you can hold your baby close to you in a sling
This clever Ring Sling supports your baby’s weight and draws him into your body to become part of your weight. It also allows you to carry your baby in any of the five positions she prefers. It’s ideal for shorter periods of carrying your child, while taking a walk or doing the shopping.
If you properly use your sling you do not need to worry about back pain
You can comfortably carry your child for much longer than you could carry the same child loose in your arms. Using a sling means that you don’t put stress on your hips, back or arms by carrying for extended periods. When used properly, the sling places your child at your center of gravity, with their weight being distributed evenly and comfortably around your body. Parents who are experienced at using slings often comment on how long they can comfortably carry their children. Many who have back problems have noted that the use of a sling actually reduced their symptoms.
You can bond with your baby. Carrying a baby in a sling provides a wonderful opportunity to bond with your child/grandchild/niece/nephew etc. Even walking to the shops or doing a daily task can be a moment for a lovely cuddle. It is a delightful, relaxing feeling to have a soothed or sleeping baby snuggled up against you. It also gives you the peace of mind and security of knowing exactly how your child is at each moment.
You can exercise with your baby
If positioned correctly, your ring sling will help you loose extra weight much faster. You can do squats and perform certain yoga and pilates poses while wearing your baby. You can use you sling without a baby in a similar way to TRX. Of course you should always be sensible when choosing the exercises while wearing your baby.
You can do almost anything with your baby
For many parents, when baby cries there can be a huge conflict: they want to care for their child by picking them up and comforting them but there are always many other demands that need attention. Carrying your baby in a sling frees your hands to do many other.
BENEFITS TO THE PARENT AND THE BABIES
It ain’t called “attachment parenting” for nothing. Being physically attached to your kid, through wearing or carrying, increases the bond between parents and child. You really can’t separate the two. Physical attachment breeds psychological attachment. If you maintain physical contact with your baby as much as possible, you’ll have a stronger, more lasting bond with that child, that teen, that adult. Even the first few moments of a child’s life are crucial. Immediate post-birth skin-to-skin contact between mother and naked child had a positive influence on mother-child interactions one year later. The same benefits were not observed when the infants were dressed/swaddled before being handed over to the mom after being born.
Oxytocin has been called many things, but it’s most famous as a promoter of bonds between people (and animals). Pleasing, welcome touch – like the caress of a lover or the skin-to-skin contact of a babywearing mother-infant duo – causes oxytocin secretion. This strengthens bonds between parent and child, increases empathy, and solidifies and establishes familial ties. Heck, oxytocin is so subtly powerful that even administering it exogenously to just the parent alone has beneficial effects on their child, improving their “physiological and behavioral readiness for social engagement.” Imagine how important the endogenous steady drip of oxytocin in habitual babywearing is for child-parent relationships.