Tuesday, March 9, 2010

The Babywearing Experience

How many of you have ever worn your baby? If you have, you know that the feeling of a baby resting happily on your back or nestled on your chest is incredible. There is a certain serenity in knowing that your baby is being held so close to you and cozy and comfortable.

What is babywearing? Babywearing is the practice of wearing or carrying a baby or child in a sling or other form of carrier. There are many different ways to wear your baby and babywearing has been done since ancient times. Slings, wraps, soft structured carriers, and mei tais are just some of the ways you can wear your baby. What are the benefits of wearing your baby? I know for myself the biggest reasons I babywear is because of the closeness it brings and because I am able to carry my child and still be hands free. There are many other benefits as well- benefits both for parent and child. Babies who are worn:

  • cry less

  • learn more

  • are more "organized" meaning they are able to adapt to their environment more easily

  • are more aware of peoples expressions and words because they spend so much time in close proximity to them

For parents,there are numerous benefits as well.

While wearing a baby, parents have opportunity to easily bond with their child. Breastfeeding is simple while carrying your baby in a sling, SSC (soft structured carrier), Mei Tai or wrap. Being handsfree means that you are able to accomplish household work you would never be able to do if you had to carry your baby in your arms. It also makes shopping easier because you do not have to push a stroller while balancing everything you are shopping for.

What types of carriers are available?

Slings-Slings are available in adjustable and non-adjustable versions. Keep in mind that in a sling, the weight of the baby is all on one shoulder so I prefer slings for when the baby is little. Hotslings is a popular brand and they make both adjustable and non adjustable slings. (Please note-bag type slings, where the baby is not held close to the caregiver, are dangerous and should never be used. Numerous deaths have been associated with these type of slings.)

Wraps-A wrap is a large piece of fabric that wraps around yourself and your baby and then ties for security. Moby Wrap is one such brand.

For babies, stretchy wraps are great but most people prefer non-stretchy (woven) wraps for toddlers.

Mei Tais-Mei Tais are Asian inspired carriers that consist of 4 straps and a panel of fabric for the body. The straps tie around the waist and shoulders and the fabric panel holds the baby. Mei Tais are very adjustable, and very comfortable because of the two shouldered carry. Popular brands include BabyHawk.

Soft Structured Carriers- Soft Structured Carriers or SSCs are basically Mei Tais with buckles instead of straps that you tie. Popular brands include Ergo Baby and Beco Baby. They are very comfortable and easy to use, but not quite as adjustable as a Mei Tai. It is great for heavier or older children.

I would just like to make a note about forward facing carriers-the position that the baby is held in when they are dangling by their crotch is not good for hip and spine development. In SSCs, the baby is held in a seated position which is better. Also, because they are forward facing they are getting alot of stimulation and have no way of turning away from the action when it is too much for them. Overstimulated babies are fussy, unhappy babies.
There are many great ways to wear your baby all of which will promote bonding and make your life easier. Feel free to email us if you have any questions!