By Danielle, contributing writer
Babywearing is the norm around the world, where women do not have access to baby appliances and must carry their babies with them as they work in the fields or at home, and simply cannot entertain a small child often. It’s recently been brought back into vogue in developed countries, but many mothers are still not aware of this amazing method of calming and caring for baby.
Wraps have come a long way, and you can get a wrap on a budget, make your own, or find an extremely fancy and expensive version. Around the world, most women use a simple rectangle or square linen, wool, or cotton piece of fabric and tie two ends together. In the developed world today, there’s an option for every preference and wraps are easier to use than ever.
Our modern society has all sorts of baby appliances designed to keep baby entertained – but away from human interaction. The reality is that babies cannot be fooled, and we shouldn’t be training them to be, anyways. Swings, chairs, bumbos, bassinets and jumpers, all have their place (I mean we all need a minute to ourselves and a shower once a month, right?), but the lack of attachment those things breeds isn’t healthy for mom or baby.
But, believe it or not, the benefits of babywearing don’t end at looking super cute.
10 Benefits of Babywearing
- A happier baby. We could stop here, but the constant availability to mom — her smells, sounds, and warmth — keeps baby happier than putting baby in a chair elsewhere. This also gives baby access to readily eat, leading to less crying and fussiness.
- It leads to higher brain development. Studies show that babies who are worn are more calm and are able to take in what’s going on around them, which will be whatever mom is doing. We all know that babies learn by watching other humans, and baby wrapping gives them a front row view to what mom does all day. A mother who talks through what she’s doing will teach her children even more.
- It gives mom more freedom to get things done. Let’s be honest, the first few months of having a newborn basically feel like you’re a human pacifier. Baby wearing can allow the mother to still get things done, “get her arms back,” and feel a bit more accomplished around the house or with her other children.
- Baby wrapping has shown to reduce the symptoms of colic and reflux. A good percentage of babies in the first year of life have colic or reflux at some point. Baby wrapping can help reduce those symptoms.
- A closer bond. Knowing mom is right there gives comfort to both the baby, and the mom. Skin to skin contact releases oxytocin in the mother and baby, leading to a deeper bond.
- It’s a workout for mom. Though babies can get heavy, baby wrapping is typically very comfortable and gives mom a mini-workout as she’s rebuilding abdominal muscles and walking around her kitchen 1,000 times a day.
- It creates a more social person. Children who have a deeper attachment to a parent are more likely to be socially confident.
- Baby wrapping limits the need for “things.” We are talking strollers, car seats, and anything else you may put or push baby in, giving you more access to more locations and saving money.
- Studies show that breastfeeding is more successful for mothers who baby wrap.
- It works your baby’s muscles, creating improved motor skills.
How to Find a Wrap
You’re going to find there’s many different types of wraps, and even more wrap companies. But, here are some basics.
A ring sling
This is your beginner basic, perfect for breastfeeding and for newborns.
Woven or stretchy wraps
These wraps are perfect for any size baby, but you will need to educate yourself on how to use the wrap. You will find Youtube video instructions on this, but there are also many baby wearing groups and classes likely near you. If you plan to baby wear, it would be a great idea to take a class to be sure you are wrapping safely.
This is great as your child matures, although many do accommodate infants, as you go on about your day and need to keep baby snug in place, even when not at home. They are typically easy to get on. Think of a backpacking backpack but for a little one. These are the Tulas, LilleBabies, and Kinderpacks of the world.
How to Find Wrapping Support
Babywearing groups are popping up everywhere. Search for local groups in your area — at La Leche meetings, natural or crunchy mom groups, or natural health stores.
If you feel totally lost, Babywearing International is a good place to start educating yourself.
Don’t forget, dads can (and should) wrap too! Bring your man along to a class to learn how to wrap, also.