There is something truly intoxicating about babywearing–getting that newborn babe as close to you as humanly possible now that she’s on the outside. But the benefits of babywearing go far beyond it simply feeling good; there’s actually tons of emotional and developmental benefits for baby and mama alike.
“Touching and being held is one of those primal needs babies have (they can’t move themselves!) so meeting that need can actually make your life easier down the road,” says babywearing educator and early childhood development specialist Sarah Longwell-Stevens, owner of Small Things NYC.
Below, Sarah rounds up the 6 biggest benefits of babywearing.
For the Baby:
- Physical Development. Did you know babywearing works similarly to tummy time? Holding your baby’s body upright against gravity helps develop his or her muscles, and stabilizing the head and upper torso against gravity will help your baby grow stronger. Babies also get to feel the motions and rhythms of walking long before their bodies are ready for it. This helps explain why babies who are held and worn frequently often hit motor milestones before babies who are
- Centering. It is rough being a baby! Babies have so much to make sense of in the world and it can be overwhelming. Being held and worn helps babies reorganize themselves, just like deep breaths or a hug help you when you are having a rough day. They have the familiar motions of walking they experienced for hours a day before birth, the familiar sound of a heartbeat, familiar smells of their loved ones, all in the middle of a great big cozy hug. Babies who are worn for even just short periods in a day tend to cry less. Which is a win for everyone involved!
- Digestion. New babies are just getting their digestive systems online and it can be hard work. The upright position of being worn can help the milk go down through the body the way you want it to rather than back up all over their clothes! They also are receiving a lot of touch while being worn, and we know touch stimulates hormones that make babies use their food more efficiently and grow faster without additional caloric intake.
- Stimulation. Have you ever looked at the world from stroller or knee level? It’s not that interesting. All the action is up where the grownups are! When babies are worn, they get to learn more about the world around them and engage in more conversation, all from the confines of a safe environment. Being held close while experiencing new things often gives babies a sense of security and safety that encourages independence as they get older.
For the parent:
- Convenience. Having a baby is a big life adjustment and babywearing can make it a little easier. There is no stroller to lug up and down stairs, it’s easier to get things done around the house with a fussy or sleepless baby, and parents can get some sunshine and a cookie while baby takes a nap. Strollers can totally have their place, but often new parents are so worried about their babies that they can’t stop checking them. When the baby is right under your face and you can feel all of his or her movements, you can relax a little more because you can constantly feel that they are doing just fine. And if you need to compulsively check them you don’t have to break stride.
- Strength. You know how everyone says women should lift weights to build bone density? Guess what? Babies are natural weights and they love to be lifted and carried. It makes sense that at a period where women are losing some bone density from pregnancy and nursing that there would be a built in mechanism to get it back–carrying that baby who loves being held anyway. And with the right carrier, it shouldn’t hurt your back at all. If you’re feeling discomfort from your carrier, it is likely because it isn’t fully supporting your body or your baby’s body. Carriers fit everyone differently, so if you’re uncomfortable, there is probably something else that might work better for you.