Most of my post focus on primal nutrition-eating like our early ancestors. I also like to shift the focus every now and then to other “primal” topics that I am passionate about. I am a Mom of 2 beautiful boys ages 6 and 3. I am also a certified breastfeeding counselor/educator. I had to overcome many breastfeeding obstacles, and love to help new mamas out. One of the things I found that made breastfeeding easier for me was “babywearing.” I was introduced to the world of babywearing (outside of the bjorn) with my second son. I wish I had discovered it sooner with my first! Babywearing literally means wearing your baby in a wrap or a sling. There is something very primal about holding your baby close to you. My hope is that you will have an open mind and possibly learn about something that may not be culturally normal, yet has been practiced for many thousands of years.
In Western culture we are taught that if we hold our babies too much we may “spoil” them. Children do not spoil. Nurturing them does not make babies turn “rotten.”Meeting their needs for proximity and touch does not make them become more “needy” children. These are all myths! Follow your instincts. Ignore unsolicited advice. You will hear it ALL many many times. Don’t doubt yourself. Pick that baby up and love him. Another saying I hear frequently that drives me crazy is the “is she a good baby?” Because in our culture “good” babies do not cry or fuss. Think about it, does expressing your needs make you bad? Seriously? Babies should not be labeled good or bad based on their temperament. When they cry it is because they have a need-that is the only way they know how to express themselves.
What are the benefits of wearing your baby?
*Newborn human babies are the most neurologically underdeveloped mammal. According to this: “Human babies enter the world utterly dependent on caregivers to tend to their every need. Although newborns of other primate species rely on caregivers, too, human infants are especially helpless because their brains are comparatively underdeveloped. Indeed, by one estimation a human fetus would have to undergo a gestation period of 18 to 21 months instead of the usual nine to be born at a neurological and cognitive development stage comparable to that of a chimpanzee newborn.”
*Babywearing makes a nice transition from the warm cozy womb into the loud, bright, and overstimulating world. It gives them a safe and warm place right up against your skin. Being skin to skin helps to regulate baby’s breathing and heart rate. Mom and baby can be in tune with each other, and mom can read baby’s early breastfeeding cues before he starts crying.
*Wearing your baby promotes attachment between mom and baby. Babies have needs to survive and physical touch and proximity are among these needs. Wearing baby helps regulate her neurologically. Babies can smell mama, hear her heartbeat, hear her voice, feel her warmth. Mama can smell baby and feel baby which helps with bonding. Baby feels safe, calm, and secure. You can even nurse baby while in the sling or wraps.
According to Dr. Sears: “It’s easier to understand babywearing when you think of a baby’s gestation as lasting eighteen months – nine months inside the womb and at least nine more months outside. The womb environment automatically regulates baby’s systems. Birth temporarily disrupts this organization. The more quickly, however, baby gets outside help with organizing these systems, the more easily he adapts to the puzzle of life outside the womb. By extending the womb experience, the babywearing mother (and father) provides an external regulating system that balances the irregular and disorganized tendencies of the baby. Picture how these regulating systems work. Mother’s rhythmic walk, for example, (which baby has been feeling for nine months) reminds baby of the womb experience. This familiar rhythm, imprinted on baby’s mind in the womb, now reappears in the “outside womb” and calms baby. As baby places her ear against her mother’s chest, mother’s heartbeat, beautifully regular and familiar, reminds baby of the sounds of the womb. As another biological regulator, baby senses mother’s rhythmic breathing while worn tummy- to-tummy, chest-to-chest. Simply stated, regular parental rhythms have a balancing effect on the infant’s irregular rhythms. Babywearing “reminds” the baby of and continues the motion and balance he enjoyed in the womb.”
*Babywearing makes life easier for you. Your hands are free so you can go about your day! I literally did everything with my son in the wrap or sling. I washed dishes, cooked, played with my 2 year old, went hiking and even grocery shopping. I didn’t have to carry that big car seat around like I did with my first son (before discovering the world of babywearing). I would scoop him right into the wrap and go about our day. He was safe, secure, content, happy. He nursed when he needed to, and slept when he needed to, all on mommy. He literally lived in there for months and months. I could spend my time playing with my 2 year old! and you know what? My “baby” is now a very happy, content, and independent 3 year old. He is confident, loving, and has a wicked sense of humor. I am by no means saying that babies “must” be worn by mama, and must be worn all the time. I’m saying have an open mind and try it out! Families obviously have many different dynamics. If mom is working, having a caregiver or family member wear baby can help make the transition easier for baby, and baby can still reap the benefits of being held close. Dads can help soothe baby by babywearing as well!
Here I am snowshoeing and pulling my 2 year old in a sled while baby is sleeping on me in a carrier:
*When baby is sick he can be close to mommy or daddy. I found this helped make him feel better and he rarely cried even though he felt lousy. In the pictures below my baby was sick-in the second one it was summertime and he had the coxsackie virus. He didn’t eat or drink much of anything for over a week. He just nursed a tiny bit, and hung out on mama. Some babies have GERD and need to be upright or they are in pain. I was able to nurse my baby in the moby wrap while in an upright position. This made him more comfortable and made nursing in those early days much easier for both of us.
*Babies worn in slings are happy! They cry less! In cultures where babywearing is the norm, babies rarely cry. Crying is exhausting for parents and babies, and floods baby with the stress hormone cortisol. Babywearing is helpful for colicky babies (both of mine were) Babywearing literally saved my sanity! I think that many of the parents who discover “babywearing” are the ones who have high need babies and are looking for ways to soothe them.
*You can “wear” baby down at bedtime! Ever hear the term “witching hour” …those evening hours where baby cries for no apparent reason? Put baby in the sling or wrap and and they can ease into sleep for bedtime…I did this often and then would slowly slide him out of the sling and into his little basket! Here is a picture of him after being in the sling and falling asleep at night…I transferred him into his little basket. You can see the little red lines on him from being all wrapped up on me.
*Babywearing is fun! Not only is it easy, but it can also be enjoyable-especially for taking walks, hiking, and going places. Toddlers enjoy being “worn” as well-it helps calm them down when they are overstimulated or tired. You can carry them on your back, hip or front depending on your preference and the type of carrier you have.
My favorite carrier by far is the moby wrap. It takes a few tries to get it down good, but that wrap was a lifesaver for me!
*regarding babywearing safety: there are some unsafe baby carriers out there. Deep pouches or bag-like slings (some even come with elastic edges) are not safe. You would never want to put a baby deep inside a deep pouch where they cannot get air. Here are some resources on safety:
Here are some other great babywearing resources:
Links to evidence based articles:
A guide to help choose the best carrier for your needs:
A great book for children about babywearing around the world:
* Please note: This is a personal blog. I am not a Doctor or a Dietician. All data and information provided on this site is for informational/educational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitution for professional medical advice.
So love this! Although my ‘babies’ are 12 and 14, I did try to ‘wear’ them as often as I could. I am going to share this with some expectant moms……:)
Good stuff! I agree with you about how much having your baby against you is beneficial in so many ways (especially skin to skin). In one word its all about, LOVE.
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