Guest Post : The Benefits of Babywearing
When Dr William Sears coined the term babywearing in the 1980s, I’m fairly sure he meant it to mean “the use of all the various types of baby slings”, and not “wearing babies as a fashion accessory” (at least we hope so!)
In fairness to the human race, all Dr Sears did was come up with the name for something that had been going on since… well, since the first human mummy stood up, looked around and said, “Now, where did I put Baby?”
Even before that, our simian ancestors did (and still do) carry their offspring in a variety of ways attached to the fur of different parts of their bodies (awww, cute…)
People around the world have been carrying their offspring for several millennia before iCandy – and anything that has been going for that long is subject to local diversity, so it’s not surprising to find a wide range of different baby carriers.
Of course, in “less developed” countries it is still regarded as the best way of getting your kids around before they can keep up, so you will find African, Asian and South American varieties. It even used to be popular in the “developed” west before the Georgian and Victorian aristocracy persuaded everyone that children should be kept as far away from their parents as possible, handing them to nannies to be genteelly wheeled around in their wonderful little perambulators.
Medical professionals agree that infants thrive through touch; “wearing” your baby is another way to meet this need. But the benefits of babywearing don’t end there. For instance, did you know that carrying your baby upright can reduce the effects of colic and reflux – definitely worth considering if you have a colicky baby (and if you do, you will try anything…I did!). Babies who are carried learn more quickly, as they spend their time being involved in your world, not just watching knees and feet – but participating; developing a brain that is learning to learn.
Some people suggest that having your baby in a sling will make him clingy. Exactly the opposite is true, actually. Your baby will become more emotionally secure and independent as he knows you are around as a safe base from which to explore.
If us mums (and dads!) are allowed to be selfish, there are always the extra calories you burn by carrying your baby, and the way you can breastfeed discreetly, and the general snuggly cuddles you both get to enjoy, which stimulate your new-mum hormones, and can help to reduce the likelihood and severity of post-natal depression. What do you do to get your baby off to sleep in a pram? You rock him and talk to him to simulate the motion and closeness of your own body. And because you are closer to your baby physically, you also become more attuned to their needs and bond faster and more strongly – this is a great bonus for dads, who can sometimes feel a bit left out of the new parenting routine.
Now who’s starting to look more “developed”?
But are they easy to use? Surely they can’t be as convenient as a pushchair?
Yes, they are very easy – you can go up stairs, through narrow doorways or for a lovely country walk. Not only that, but they’re light and fold up small – can you get a pushchair in your handbag? More importantly, can you afford a pushchair to go with every outfit!
The main benefit for me, at least to start with, was that I regained the use of my hands after months of trying to make lunch, hoover, iron and just about anything else you care to think of, all whilst holding on to my son. So, slings, carriers, mei tais, call them whatever you like, are starting to sound like a good idea, aren’t they?
I have to admit, I got in to babywearing almost through necessity rather than choice, but it was one of the best things I did. My sons are too old to be carried now, but I love the freedom and joy that slings give to new parents, and being able to help with that is just great.
Claire Willis, is mum to two children, and the owner of SnugBaby. After the birth of her second son, she discovered babywearing and, decided to design and make her own brand of baby slings, which she now sells through her website, www.snugbaby.co.uk.
SnugBaby baby carriers were recently shortlisted in the Outstanding New Product category at the Women On Their Way Awards.
Snugbaby slings was a finalist of the Practical Parenting Awards 2010/11, and won the Web and IT award in the CN Business Awards 2010/11.