Why Should You Carry Your Baby?

Carrying your baby in a sling or carrier also referred to as ‘babywearing’ is an ancient tradition that is being rediscovered by western cultures and is still very common in South America, Asia and Africa. It is a fantastic way of keeping your baby happy whilst being able to get on with everyday life.

It makes babies happy

Studies show that babies that are carried in slings cry 43% less than those that are not carried, this means that they spend more time in the ‘quiet alert’ state that enables learning as they can interact and take in their surroundings

It promotes bonding with parents (not just mums) and improves breastfeeding outcomes

Studies show that close contact with parents increases oxytocin levels (the love hormone), this promotes bonding with your baby and means that you can learn to recognise your baby’s cues from being in close contact. A sling can facilitate this by providing a way to hold your baby close.

 

Increased oxytocin levels also lead to improved breastfeeding rates as oxytocin is the hormone responsible for milk ‘letdown’.

 

It enables you get to places a buggy simply won’t reach and keeps baby safe in crowded places

Anyone who has pushed a buggy across a beach, muddy field or through deep snow knows how hard it can be! Babywearing makes many things more accessible and simpler, it makes public transport easier, eliminates the need to use a lift in busy shopping centres and crowded places are a breeze to navigate without pushing a buggy through crowds of people. It’s also much nicer for your baby as they get to see the world from your point of view, no more views of knees and bags!

 

For more awe inspiring photos of places you couldn’t take a stroller check out this facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/couldnttakeastrollerhere

Encourages physical development

Movement whilst carrying your baby improves your baby’s vestibular system (sense of balance) as they respond to your movement. Babies also adjust their position in the sling as you move, exercising their developing muscles, which in turn builds core strength. Carrying your baby in a sling whilst you are moving counts as ‘tummytime’ so that’s one less thing to worry about, especially if you have older children who have a tendency to stand on anything in their way!

Good exercise for a parent and allows you to carry on with normal activities including housework, socialising and even returning to work

Carrying your baby is a great way to get exercise whilst looking after your babies needs. Mothers will be used to carrying extra weight as your baby has been developing for the last nine months and as your baby continues to grow, the weight you are used to carrying will increase. It is a gentle form of exercise and helps to rebuild core strength by carrying a gradually increasing weight as you walk, bend, twist and turn through normal everyday activities, including housework!

Of course you can also follow a specific exercise regiment like the picture, if you feel up to it.

Improves communication

Your baby will be included in everyday conversations as they are at eye level whilst being protected by the sling and secure from too much noise and activity, they learn facial expressions, changes in tone of voice and body language much better than if they were in a crib or cot away from family interactions. As slings enable your baby to be held close you can be more responsive to their needs, which is crucial for secure attachment and optimal brain development.

Slings are affordable - often much cheaper than a pram

Slings and carriers are available to suit a range of budgets and you can even make your own easily and cheaply with a little guidance, that’s how I started and now manufacture high quality budget slings up to high end wrap conversions with fancy embroidery and artwork.

 

Even the most expensive slings are relatively cheap compared with the most expensive travel systems and pushchairs. It can be even more affordable if you choose a sling that will suit you and your baby from newborn to toddlerhood.

Almost anyone can do it and it’s often easier than pushing a pram for disabled parents

There are lots of different types of slings available to suit all body shapes and situations, have a look at which sling is right for me? to find out which sling suits you.

 

People who use wheelchairs may find they are unable to push a pushchair but can wear their baby in a sling much more easily.

Further reading:

1.               “Current knowledge about skin-to-skin (kangaroo) care for pre-term infants”. J Perinatol. 1991 Sep;11(3):216-26

2.              “Kangaroo mother care and the bonding hypothesis” Tessier R1, Cristo MVelez SGiron Mde Calume ZFRuiz-Palaez JGCharpak YCharpak N. Pediatrics. 1998 Aug;102(2):e17

3.              Hunziker UA, Garr RG. (1986) Increased carrying reduces infant crying: A random-ized controlled trial. Pediatrics 77:641-648

4.              Lawn et al., "'Kangaroo Mother Care' to Prevent Neonatal Deaths Due to Preterm Birth Complications," International Journal of Epidemiology" 2010: April

5.              Whiting, J.M.W., "Environmental Constraints on Infant Care Practices". In Handbook of Cross-Cultural Human Development edited by R.H. Munroe, R.L. Munroe & B.B. Whiting, New York: Garland STPM Press, 2005.

6.              Ferber et al., "The Effect of Skin-to-Skin Contact (Kangaroo Care) Shortly After Birth on the Neurobehavioral Responses of the Term Newborn: A Randomized, Controlled Trial. Pediatrics 113 2004: 858-865.

7.              Charpak, N., "Kangaroo Mother Care: 25 Years After," Acta Paediatric 94 2005: 5, 514-522.

8.              Powell, A. "Harvard Researchers Say Children Need Touching and Attention," Harvard Gazette.

9.              Ludington-How, S. Kangaroo Care: The Best You Can Do to Help Your Preterm Infant. New York: Bantam Books, 1993.

10.          Feldman et al. "Testing a Family Intervention Hypothesis: The Contribution of Mother-Infant-Skin-to-Skin contact (kangaroo care) to Family Interaction. Proximity, and Touch, " 2003 March Journal of Family Psychology, Vol. 17, 94-107

11.          Furman, L. "Correlates of Lactation of Very Low Birth Weight Infants," 2002 Pediatrics Vol. 109 (4) 57

12.          Ludington-Hoe, S. "Breast Infant Temperature with Twins during shared Kangaroo Care," 2006 Journal of Obstetric, Gynecologic and Neonatal Nursing, 35 (2) 223-231

13.          McCain, G et al. "Heart Rate Variability Responses of a Preterm Infant to Kangaroo Care," 2005 Journal of Obstetrics, Gynecologic, and Neonatal Nursing," 34 (6), 689-694.

 

14.          Messmer P. et a;., "Effect of Kangaroo Care on Sleep Time for Neonates," 1997 Pediatr. Nurs. 23, no. 4 408-414.