Science Shows Babywearing is Good for Body and Mind
It’s National Babywearing Week!
Wearing a baby in a sling, wrap, or carrier is a tradition that goes as far back as the human species itself. As with other primal parenting practices, such as breastfeeding and childbirth, there is often deep biological wisdom contained within. Disrupting these can have unexpected consequences and potentially withhold benefits from both parent and child.
With International Babywearing Week upon us, it’s a nice moment to reflect upon this ancient tradition. Is it still relevant in our modern world? And what can science tell us about its effects?
As it turns out, there is a tremendous amount of research which, together, makes a compelling case for babywearing.
Physically, the touch stimulation involved promotes healthy digestion and growth in infants. When combined with skin-to-skin contact, it also helps to regulate the temperature and heart rate of an infant, synchronizing these with the mothers.
Emotionally, it helps mother and child to develop attachment, which in turn soothes baby and results in the mother becoming more responsive to his needs.
Mentally, it encourages wellbeing and may reduce postpartum depression. There are two fascinating studies that looked at the effects of a depressed mother holding and touching her baby.
The first, conducted by Tessier et al, studied infant-mother pairs in hospital. Results showed that mothers who practiced a significant amount of skin-to-skin contact (through holding or wearing their baby) reported significantly less depressive symptoms and physiological stress.
In another study, depressed and non-depressed mothers were observed interacting with their babies in different ways. Depressed mothers may struggle to be emotionally expressive and vocal with their babies. This can be distressing for both baby and themselves. This study showed that babies of depressed mothers respond to maternal touch which nurtures them and may go some way to compensating for the mother’s quietness and lack of expression.
Both of the above studies show that physical stimulation and closeness, both promoted during babywearing, can have powerful effects on mental wellbeing and emotional bonding.
WeTheParents has compiled this list of 23 science-based benefits that babywearing can impact on parent and child.
You can learn about these benefits in more depth here: https://wetheparents.org/babywearing-benefits-evidence