Baby wearing saved my motherhood. It’s true. For anyone that has more than one child, it becomes obvious that kids are born with their own personalities. Your first child may be an easy-going, calm baby but that second baby - wild to the core. It’s the second baby that makes you realize that it’s not YOU that is an amazing parent - it’s your child’s personality and how much they challenge you. I gravitated towards my baby carrier to save my sanity with my firstborn, wild-to-the-core child. I learned later that its benefits are backed by scientific research, but it was my experience that taught me it was the best tool in my “parenting toolbox.” Here’s what science tells us about the benefits of baby wearing:
1. LESS CRYING IN A BABY CARRIER: We all want happy babies. In a society that promotes independence starting in infancy, crying babies are the norm. Crying increases and peaks at 6 weeks of age for all babies - but research shows that we can decrease crying and fussing by 43% when we offer supplemental carrying. Babies worn in baby carriers cry 51% less overall. Read the research here.
2. BETTER INFANT GROWTH RATES: Passive movement, like babies get in a baby carrier, stimulates bone growth. Additionally, breastfed infants in close proximity to the breasts typically increase nursing frequency, leading to weight gain. Read the research here.
3. REDUCES RISK OF FLAT HEAD SYNDROME: More time spent upright in a baby carrier and less time laying down - in a car seat, swing, crib, etc. - with pressure applied to the head reduces infant plagiocephaly or “flat head syndrome.” Read the research here.
4. INCREASES BREASTFEEDING SUCCESS RATES: Frequent proximity to the breasts increases the number of latches and infant nursing sessions. Plus, the additional breast stimulation increases mother’s milk supply and infant’s intake, leading to weight gain. Baby wearing also helps mothers reach their breastfeeding goals and increases the duration of breastfeeding. Read the research here.
5. PROMOTES LANGUAGE DEVELOPMENT: Infants worn in baby carriers are held longer and are in closer proximity to parental use of verbal language, as well as facial intonation and expression. This exposure promotes language development. In addition, an upright posture promotes alertness in infants and increases social and emotional communication. Read the research here.
6. PROMOTES MOTHER-BABY ATTACHMENT: Physical touch, body warmth, and even olfactory receptors in your nose release oxytocin at the closeness of mother and baby. Oxytocin is the “feel good” hormone in the body that supports feelings of happiness and attachment between the mother-baby dyad. This strengthens the bond and also encourages a stronger connection between the two. Read the research here.
7. INCREASES PARENTAL CONFIDENCE: Babywearing increases parental recognition and responsiveness to infant cues, keeping baby happier and content longer, thus increasing parental confidence. Read the research here.
8. PROMOTES BETTER INFANT DIGESTION: Keeping an infant upright for 30 minutes after a meal decreases reflux and spit-up, while also promoting healthy digestion. Massage and abdominal touch/contact, like you get with babywearing, stimulate gastric activity and hormones responsible for digestion. Read the research here.
9. LOWERS BABY’S & MOTHER’S STRESS LEVELS: Baby wearing releases oxytocin, the “feel-good” hormone in the body, as well as lowers the cortisol or “stress hormone” in the body. So, you and your baby will feel less stressed when baby wearing throughout the day. Read the research here.
10. IMPROVES SAFETY: Infants worn facing in are less likely to be touched by strangers. Baby wearing can also be used to keep an active toddler safe and prevent them from committing dangerous acts, like running in the street.
11. REDUCES RATES OF POSTPARTUM DEPRESSION AND ANXIETY: Skin-to-skin contact during the postpartum period is known to have a host of health benefits for the baby as well as the mom. Studies show that 2 to 5 hours of daily skin-to-skin time has the most health benefits. Read the research here.
12. PRESERVES PARENTAL ENERGY LEVELS: Let’s face it, babies don’t even begin to start walking until 9 months of age at the very earliest, so you’ve got 9 to 12 months on average of carrying your chunky bundle of joy around. That gets tiring fast unless you’re using a baby carrier to be hands-free and distribute their weight evenly throughout your upper body. Read the research here.