In recent years, baby wearing; the practice of wearing or carrying your baby in a sling or other form of carrier has hugely grown in popularity across the globe, but why? Why are more parents opting for carriers and slings than pushchairs and prams, and what’s the reason for this preference?
From personal experience, baby wearing can have a whole host of benefits in terms of freedom and convenience, and have a positive impact on baby and the parents alike. We used a baby carrier with both of our daughters from when they were around 3 months old till around 18 months of age. Here are just a few of the benefits of baby wearing we experienced which might be worth considering.
- Hands Free Parenting – Using a baby carrier or sling can really help make everyday life with a newborn that little bit easier – and let’s face it, every little helps! Sometimes it’s hard to get ANYTHING done when you have a newborn baby around – particularly if they only seem to be comforted by lying on your chest. I remember being literally stuck to the sofa when Erin was little, and as lovely as those newborn cuddles are, it can feel a little overwhelming and exhausting being limited to sitting down and staying sedentary whilst watching them sleep. If you have a particularly clingy baby, you can also find yourself heading through the first year of their life using just one hand for everything – one handed dinners, one handed cooking, one handed opening the mail. It is very restrictive! Using a baby carrier means you can comfort your baby by being close, but leaves both your hands free, giving you back some much needed freedom and independence, by allowing you to be able to make a nice drink, go out for a walk, pop into town or eat your lunch with not one but two items of cutlery!
- Comfort for your baby – Babies love being close to their parents. For a newborn, your face, your smell and your voice is literally their entire world, and as they get bigger, feelings of separation anxiety can cause them to get upset when you are out of sight or leave the room. Babies tend to cry less when being worn with a carrier or sling, providing them with their parent’s familiar scent whilst they drift off to sleep.
- Travelling easier – Travelling with a baby can be tough. Whether it’s the bus, metro, tube, train or plane, travelling is so much easier whilst baby wearing. When travelling as a single parent or without another adult to support you, it can be a real challenge having to faff with folding strollers one handed or asking others for help whilst boarding and onboarding. Using a sling or carrier allows you to be much more mobile and makes quick errands far more efficient.
- Protecting your baby – Baby wearing and using a carrier to hold your baby against your chest can help protect them from both the elements (wind chill or strong sunlight) whilst out and about but also from strangers who may be a little too generous with their affection! Other than a quick peak to see your babies content sleeping face, your baby is far less exposed than when being pushed in a stroller or pram and is unlikely to be touched when being carried.
- Reducing Colic and Wind – One of the best ways to avoid colic and wind in young babies is to keep them upright after a feed, which can be really hard if they are milk drunk and desperate for a kip! Popping your baby into a sling or carrier after a feed can really help reduce colic and wind symptoms as the baby lies vertically and upright, leaving you free to rub their back as they settle.
- Discreet nursing – For those who may feel a little uncomfortable breastfeeding in public; carriers and slings are an ideal discreet way to feed when out and about, with the material of the sling providing a subtle modesty shield. Once confident in baby wearing, I was able to feed my girls on the move, going for a walk and breastfeeding simultaneously, which gave me a huge amount of freedom to get on with my day.
- Bonding time – Having that physical closeness with your baby where they can feel your heart beat and have the closeness to your skin is hugely beneficial for bonding – and an ideal way for fathers or partners to bond with their child too. When I was exclusively breastfeeding, my partner used to love baby wearing as a way to spend some positive one on one time with our daughter and they have had a really close relationship ever since.
- Burns calories – Finally baby wearing is ideal for those who want to stay active – walking with the additional weight of your baby is a great way to help you get outside and walk more, without being limited to stroller friendly locations.
If you haven’t tried baby wearing yet, why not give it a try? You may be amazed at where your new found freedom as a parent will take you!