Whether you’re into attachment parenting or not, wearing your baby carries with it (pun intended) a number of benefits. You may be looking for an emotional connection with your child or the use of both your hands at the same time (a luxury many of us take for granted before caring for an infant).
Regardless of your reasoning, investing in a quality baby carrier is something every parent should do. Laura Simeon, MA, MLIS, offers 10 reasons to wear your baby in a sling, highlighted as part of The Natural Child Project.
1. Wearing a baby is convenient.
This is a no-brainer. Traditional slings are perfect for breastfeeding, either in public or as a way to eliminate distraction. Regarding a front or back carrier, the use of both hands (as I said above) is a luxury many mothers don’t often have.
I use my front baby carrier while grocery shopping because it keeps my daughter calm (see No. 3) and allows me to get everything done with the other two kids in tow (yes, I go grocery shopping with three children).
2. Wearing a baby promotes physical development.
When a baby is close to an adult’s body in a sling, it acts as a transitional womb because “he in tune with the rhythm of her breathing, the sound of her heartbeat, and the movements his mother makes – walking, bending, and reaching. This stimulation helps him to regulate his own physical responses, and exercises his vestibular system, which controls balance.”
3. Babies worn in slings are happier.
I love using my baby sling to calm my child at home. Especially in the newborn days, the feeling of security a sling provides can calm your baby when nothing else will.
“Studies have shown that the more babies are held, the less they cry and fuss,” writes Simeon. “In indigenous cultures where baby-wearing is the norm, babies often cry for only a few minutes a day – in contrast to Western babies, who often cry for hours each day.”
4. Baby-wearing is healthy for you!
When my child insists on being held at home, sometimes I will put her in the baby sling or front carrier and do lunges or walk up and down the stairs to get additional exercise with the extra weight! I consider it an option for physical activity I can’t afford to turn down.
5. Toddlers appreciate the security of the sling.
This is an option I have yet to explore, mostly because I don’t think my children would tolerate it. For many parents, though, baby wearing doesn’t have to stop just because your child can walk.
“The world can be a scary place for toddlers, who feel more confident when they can retreat to the security of the sling when they need to do so,” writes Simeon. “Toddlers often become over-stimulated, and a ride in the sling helps to soothe and comfort them before (or after!) a ‘melt-down’ occurs.”
6. Baby-wearing helps you and your baby to communicate with each other.
Babies cry because they need something. If we aren’t around, they are forced to insist even louder. When our babies are with us in the sling, they don’t have to try so hard.
“Many baby-wearing parents report that they have never learned to distinguish their baby’s cries – because their babies are able to communicate effectively without crying!” writes Simeon.
“Every time a baby is able to let us know that she is hungry, bored or wet without having to cry, her trust in us is increased, her learning is enhanced, and our own confidence is reinforced.”
7. Slings are a bonding tool for fathers, grandparents, and other caregivers.
Mothers and babies are connected from the very start, but fathers, grandparents, and other caregivers have to play catch-up once the baby is out in the real world. Using a baby sling can be one way to create that physical bond.
“Slings are a useful tool for every adult in a baby’s life,” writes Simeon. “It makes me smile when I see a new father going for a walk with his baby in a sling. The baby is becoming used to his voice, heartbeat, movements and facial expressions, and the two are forging a strong attachment of their own.”
8. Slings are a safe place for a child to be.
If you’ve ever attempted to walk through a store, park, or along a sidewalk with a toddler, you know it can be a stressful experience. Putting your child in a baby carrier is a great way to be ensured he or she is safe. Nothing like eliminating those stress levels!
9. Slings are economical.
Compared to strollers, baby carriers are significantly cheaper. If you prefer a baby carrier – front or backpack – that will run you higher than a traditional sling, but both options are economical. If you go the sling route, though, you can even make one at the cost of fabric and some rings and batting.
10. Baby-wearing is fun.
I do admit that I have loved wearing all of my children. Not only is it easy, it does help with bonding! There is nothing like that feeling when your baby nuzzles into you or rests her head on your chest to go to sleep. It’s an incredible feeling!
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