Benefits of Baby Wearing Preemies

How Baby Wearing will Help Your Preemie

Baby Wearing Preemies in the Hospital

Premature babies, especially those with medical problems requiring days, weeks or even months in NICU, are deprived of those crucial final weeks or months in the womb. This means baby must finish her development outside the womb. Specialists and professionals have created a number of ‘womb environments’ to help preemies finish developing, gain weight as quickly as possible, and help prevent complications that may arise(such as sleep apnea) because the baby was born so early. Not all hospitals are able to afford incubators and the latest medical technology to care for preemies, so they did what they could - they used Mom. Premature babies were wrapped around their babies in a sling and, not only did the premature babies thrive, they often thrived better than babies who had the technological-care advantage. The benefits of Kangaroo Care are huge for infants in general and preemies in particular. By being wrapped and snuggled so closely with mom:

  • Baby is enticed to feed more frequently which helps in weight gain and development;
  • Mom’s warmth helps keep baby warm;
  • Mom’s breathing stimulates baby’s breathing so baby had fewer cases of apnea. It’s almost like Mom is acting as a respiratory pacemaker for her baby.
  • The closeness and security of mom, including being able to hear and smell Mom is soothing and calming to all babies. This is especially important for preemies, as being calm instead of stressed will divert energy from crying to growing.

Baby Wearing Preemies at Home

When your preterm infant leaves the hospital, it’s up to you to provide him with the extra care he requires to overcome some of the unique challenges of being born too early. In our case, our boys were born at 35 weeks, and initially had trouble maintaining their body temperature and having enough energy to eat enough to gain weight. This meant daily trips to the peditrician's office to measure weight gain and body temperature once we left the hospital. Another concern with preemies is they simply forget to breath - in many cases requiring breathing monitors once baby leaves the hospital. The age-old practice of baby wearing has been shown to provide preemies with a number of benefits that can help them better adjust to life outside of the womb.

Baby wearing helps your preemie gain the weight he needs to thrive. Studies have shown that skin-to-skin contact can help preemies overcome some of the difficulties they face with low birth weight and feeding.

Since preemies won’t eat large amounts during feedings, they need to eat more frequently to help them gain weight. Baby wearing allows a preterm infant to be close to his mother’s milk supply and encourages him to nurse more frequently. Digestion may also be a problem for a preemie’s immature system. The movement from being worn can improve your baby’s ability to digest meals and reduce gassiness.

The culture shock of an infant leaving the womb and making his appearance in the outside world is only exacerbated by being born too early. Preemies often have problems regulating their body temperatures and being over stimulated from constant handling.

Since baby wearing allows the infant to be held snuggly against his mother’s body, he doesn’t have to be picked up and moved around every time he needs to be soothed. A parent who wears her preterm baby becomes more in tune with her baby’s cues and can quickly detect when he’s over stimulated and react accordingly.

Preemies spend the majority of their days sleeping as it is essential to their growth and development. When your preterm infant is wrapped close to you, the combination of the warmth from your body and the sound of your heartbeat resembles the serene environment of the womb. This soothes your preemie and enables him to sleep more soundly.

Best Baby Slings for Preemies

While there are a number of great baby carriers to choose from, baby wraps, like the Baby Bundler, CuddlyWrap, and Moby Wrap are often the preferred method for preemies as they hold their tiny bodies more snugly to mom's or dad's body and offer greater head support than other carriers. The wraps also allow you to hold both babies closer to your chest (and heartbeat) when you have twins.

Caring for a premature infant can be an intimidating experience for a parent. By wearing your baby you’ll become in sync with what your preemie needs and gain the confidence you need to become the best parent possible.

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