When I had our first daughter, it was just the two of us for most of the days with dad at work and grandparents coming and going for quick visits. We would relax together and she would lie on my chest. It was wonderful. As she became more active and we increased our daily activities and outings, we started using a baby carrier. Once you start baby wearing you won’t stop!
Baby wearing is amazing! After our second daughter was born, that carrier came out as soon as possible so I could be close and comforting to my newborn and attentive to my toddler. Then, when baby girl number three came, the baby carrier became an essential in the house. I never went anywhere without it. Even when I took the stroller, the carrier was always there. Being able to carry your child and have your hands free for your other children or tasks becomes mandatory. But there are a lot more benefits than just having your hands free.
Baby wearing is not new! Although it seems like it has been making a resurgence in the last 10 years, it is actually a very old practice that has been used by mothers worldwide for centuries.
“The womb lasts eighteen months: Nine months inside Mother, and nine months outside,” —Dr. Sears
My Top 5 Reasons for Baby Wearing from Newborn to Toddler
1. Strengthens the Parent/Child Bond
Once your baby is born, skin-to-skin time, where you have your baby lie on your chest skin-to-skin, is encouraged for both parents. This closeness stimulates production of a beneficial “bonding” hormone called oxytocin. When you wear your baby in a carrier your child feels safe and protected. Wearing your baby makes both baby and parents happy. Dr. Sears states that “the womb lasts eighteen months: Nine months inside mother, and nine months outside.”
2. Reduces Crying or Fussiness
Babies want to be carried. They stop crying the moment they are scooped up by Mom or Dad. As soon as toddlers can speak, they say almost on repeat ‘UP’ or ‘UPPY’. Being carried calms babies: they can feel your heartbeat, and they can smell your familiar scent. They know you are there to protect them.
Crying is exhausting for everyone but mostly for your little baby. Did you know that prolonged crying may cause long-term damage? Prolonged crying triggers a continuous flood of stress hormones throughout the baby’s developing brain.
3. Increases Connection and Interaction
When you carry a baby or toddler they are at the same level as Mom and Dad. They can watch how you interact, hear you speak, watch your face and see the world at the same level as you. Babies learn from observing and copying their parents and siblings. What better way than up close and personal in a baby carrier.
4. Enables Multitasking
Hands free! Well, kind of. Having your little one safely tucked in a baby carrier allows you to have your hands free to help your other children, do household tasks, or simply have an easier time carrying your little one when you head out of the house.
5. Helps with Balance and Digestion
Being in an upright position or on an incline has been shown to aid in digestion. Gravity helps play a part in this. Babies have less reflux when upright compared to babies who are on their back or stomach. Babies gain good head and neck strength from being held upright. When in the carrier, they are supported so they have the benefit of gaining strength from looking around and being upright. At the same time, when they get tired the carrier is there to support them.
Carriers We Tried with Our Girls
I have tried a number of slings and carriers while my girls were little. Only one made it through to the toddler years that I still use it today when our 3-year old gets tired and wants to be carried. The Ergo 360 (with the infant insert) is extremely comfortable and both my husband and I can wear it with a few easy adjustments. If you purchase the newborn insert, you can use this carrier from newborn to 45 lbs. I did find it hard to use with a newborn as my daughters were under 7 lbs, but I was confident with how they fit in the carrier by the time they were one-month old.
I know many moms who LOVE the Moby wrap. My sister raved about it and used it with most of her children so I purchased one before our first daughter was born. My ‘new mom’ brain could not figure it out! So I ended up passing it along to another mom.
I was successful with a sling. The added benefit of the sling was it folded up nice and small and I could fit it in my baby bag. Fun Fact: In the early 1980s, the ring sling was invented by a man in Hawaii for his wife. He sold his idea to none other than Dr. William Sears. Dr. Sears also invented the term ‘attachment parenting’ and his wife coined the term ‘babywearing’. Martha Sears, a nurse and mother of eight, said the sling was like an item of clothing.
Try Different Baby Wearing Options
Now in 2020, you can head to any baby store and find an overwhelming number of baby carrier options. Make sure you try on the carriers and try putting your baby in without help as some are trickier to use than you think. Also your back and shoulders should not hurt when you are wearing your baby. Try a few different brands until you find the one that works for you.
Do you love your sling or baby carrier? Tell me which is your favourite?