Babywearing: The Good, The Bad, And The Ouch

Babywearing is an ancient practice that was regularly practiced in the Western World until the 1900s, and is still practiced regularly in many cultures worldwide. It’s a wonderfully intimate bonding experience, that helps your little one feel safe and secure as they start to learn about the world around them in a comfortable way.

They love being able to feel your warmth and hear your heartbeat, instead of being stuck in a pram and wondering where mommy has gone!

Here’s some info about babywearing, how to do it safely, and what to look out for.babywearing

The Good

A research study in the journal Pediatrics found that babywearing reduced crying and fussing by up to 51% in the first three months of life. The researchers suggest that the lack of babywearing in our society may lead to higher levels of colic and crying. Being up close cuddling to their mommy helps babies to feel safe and comfortable as they get used to their new environment.

Mommies who are carrying their baby are more aware of a baby’s signals than if the baby was in a pram, and they also have their hands free so that they can do their daily activities. Babywearing has even been linked to better digestion among babies, and decreased post-natal depression among mothers.

Your baby will also be able to see a lot more of the world than if they were in a pram, so it’s great for brain development.

Best of all, it’s an amazing bonding experience that mommies and babies both love!

The Bad

Wrapping a baby into a sling or carrier can be difficult to master; on the other hand, practice makes perfect, and there’s plenty of information online. You also must be very careful to place your little one correctly, as if they’re placed incorrectly in a way that blocks their airways, they are not born with the ability to lift their head to get that airflow back.

There have been over a dozen babywearing-related deaths in the USA over the last two decades, so it’s important to follow safety recommendations.

In particular, it’s worth noting that experts recommend not using a sling or carrier for premature or low-weight babies.

When you buy your sling or carrier ( or even a nursing pillow for that matter ), it’s a good idea to bring your little one with you, and have the staff demonstrate to you how to place them safely. Also, make sure that it’s adjusted in a way that fits snugly for you and your baby, and keep baby positioned high enough that you can kiss their forehead.

Carrying a baby on your body can also be dangerous if you fall, so keep your hands free where possible so that you can catch yourself if you fall, and always be mentally aware of the possibility that you could fall so that you’re prepared to keep baby safe. This applies even when you’re walking while holding baby – it’s easy to trip and fall if you’re not careful!

One final tip: Not all baby carriers or slings come with enough neck support, leaving your baby’s neck insufficiently supported. When you’re carrying a small baby, you’ll always give them neck support with your hand; parents often assume that their carrier/sling comes with the same support. You could consider waiting until baby is a bit older and has a stronger neck to try babywearing, or you could look for a carrier/sling with neck support.

The Ouch

Carrying your little one around for hours a day can really wreak havoc on your back, especially if you have already been suffering back pain even before the pregnancy. Ask a physiotherapist about exercises that you can do while pregnant to prepare your core and your upper body for the extra weight; if you start to experience pain, consult your physiotherapist again about exercises to mitigate the pain. She may advise you to take a break from babywearing while your back recovers; you’re going to have this body for a long time, so you need to take good care of it for your sake and your family’s.

On the other hand, compared to holding baby in your arms on one side of your body, or carrying them on your hip, a baby sling or carrier is better for your back as their weight is more evenly distributed. So if your little one is fussing and can’t be consoled without being picked up, you’re probably better off babywearing than carrying in your arms or on your hip.

So, Should I Wear My Baby?

Overall, as long as you take care of your body and follow safety recommendations, babywearing can be a very rewarding experience for baby and mommy alike. Once you’ve taken the time to familiarize yourself with best-practice babywearing, why not give it a go?

Have you tried babywearing? Any tips or tricks for our readers?

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