Carrying your baby on your body using a length of fabric or structured carrier has been the norm for many families for centuries.
However, this tradition was mainly lost from mainstream western culture with the invention of the pram and the change to a parenting style that valued obedience and feared spoiling children with too much affection.
Once considered the domain of hippy and crunchy earth mothers, baby wearing has grown exponentially over the last 10 years or so and is now a popular mainstream parenting tool. More and more new parents from all types of backgrounds are realising the benefits of carrying their babies and toddlers, and now know that you can never spoil a child with affection or attention (despite what your Great Aunt Beryl might like to tell you!).
If you’re not sure if baby wearing is something you’d like to do, consider these five benefits it can bring to you and your family.
1. Tackle witching hour – carrying your baby helps reduce crying
Baby wearing can help calm that fractious, unhappy baby who just won’t be put down. We’ve all experienced witching, or arsenic hour. Call it what you like, but there will nearly always be that one time of the day (or night!) when your baby is crying, can’t be consoled and won’t let you put them down. Invariably this is the time you need to make dinner or help your other children with their homework! Research has found that baby wearing reduces crying and fussiness by up to 51%, with parents feeling more competent and nurturing toward their children. Wearing your baby during witching hour or whenever they are finding it difficult to settle can help your baby stay calm and hopefully cry less.
2. Baby wearing helps develop a strong bond
Holding your baby close to your body is an amazing bonding opportunity for you and your baby. It is also great for dads to babywear as, particularly if Mum is breastfeeding, it can be hard for Dad to get quality one-on-one time with bub, and sometimes Mum needs a break too! Even when baby gets older, baby wearing is still a great way to enjoy cuddles with your child when they start to spend more and more of their time running away from you!
3. Have your hands free to do something other than hold your baby
Sure, snuggling your baby is one of the best parts of being a parent, but unfortunately there are many other things that need your attention, particularly if you have other children. Baby wearing means you can have your hands free to get on with your day when your baby insists on being held. Being able to play with and help your older children can help reduce sibling jealousy, which is beneficial for the whole family. When you’re out and about, foregoing the pram for baby wearing can leave your hands free to push a shopping trolley or navigate narrow paths, stairs and small shops where the pram just won’t fit.
4. Convenience – leave the pram at home
I don’t know about you, but getting the pram in and out of the car was a massive inconvenience, particularly after having a C-section! Getting out of the house, getting some exercise, walking the dog, or dropping older children off at school can all be made easier with baby wearing. Ever had to wake a sleeping baby in the car to transfer them to a cold pram? Transferring baby into a carrier against your warm body can keep them sleep, and we all know how important that is! If you’re breastfeeding, baby wearing can help you feed baby on the go, once breastfeeding is well established. Sometimes baby needs to be fed and you just can’t wait to find a suitable place to stop and sit down. With some practice, you can master breastfeeding in a carrier, allowing easier feeding on demand.
5. Finding your tribe
One of the less obvious benefits of baby wearing is the way it can bring people together. Having a baby can be an isolating experience for some new parents, and baby wearing can be a way to meet new people who are in the same stage of life and share your values and interests. Most cities in Australia, and some regional areas, have baby wearing groups where you can meet and learn from other parents about the different ways to carry your baby, as well as make new friends. Wearing your baby while walking down the street or at your local shopping centre can often elicit friendly smiles from other baby wearing parents, and can be an ice breaker to start a conversation with that mum you see every week at the coffee shop.
The number one thing to remember when baby wearing is safety. Check out this article on how to wear a baby sling and familiarise yourself with the TICKS guidelines shown below before beginning your baby wearing journey.
Do you baby wear? What benefits has it had for you and your family?