As the weather warms up and more people are taking walks through the neighborhood, I’ve noticed an amazing trend. I pointed it out to my husband the other night, wondering if he had noticed it too. While a few years ago, it seemed that every mother of a young child was pushing one of those complicated SUV-style strollers around with their little ones inside, now I almost never see strollers unless the child inside is older than a year. This doesn’t mean there are no babies around, but what has changed is their mode of transportation. Mothers are now carrying their babies in slings, wraps and carriers, either on their chests or on their backs.

This is called babywearing, I have learned, and isn't really new at all, but coming back in style. Mothers who do it swear by it. They have their babies closer to them and are still able to take care of most of their daily tasks without having to put them down. This sounds convenient, and even a great way to accessorize if you find a sling that goes with your wardrobe, but does it have any real benefits for your baby?

Babywearing is far from a new phenomenon. Cultures have carried their babies in such a way throughout recorded history and have demonstrated practical, physical and psychological benefits of the practice. Studies have indicated that babies who are carried, held and worn spend only a few minutes per day crying or fussing, while babies who are relegated to their strollers, beds or chairs, can spend hours per day crying. Wearing your baby is the opportunity for him to be close to your body, both increasing his physical safety and his emotional sense of security. Being close to you also gives him the opportunity to hear and feel your heartbeat, breathing patterns, voice, and movements. This helps him to regulate his own responses to stimuli and increases his bond with you.

Of course, babywearing isn’t just limited to mothers. Fathers, grandparents and other caregivers can increase the emotional bond they have with babies by wearing them close, giving them more opportunity to look at them, talk with them and feel them, creating a closer bond and deeper relationship. Researchers note parents who wear their babies are more likely to understand their babies’ signals indicating they are tired, wet, hungry, or bored before the babies ever start to cry. This means the baby’s needs are being taken care of more quickly, trust is being developed more effectively and stress is taken off both caregiver and child.

Source: Hunziker, U.A. Increased carrying reduces infant crying: A randomized controlled trial, Pediatrics, Volume 7, pp 641-648.

Keyword Tags: