Why You Need to Wear Your Baby

Baby Wearing benefits you, too

While baby wearing has been around since motherhood began, and is still a way of life in many cultures, Baby Wearing has recently faced a surge of popularity in Western cultures. This has spawned a whole lot of different types and styles of baby carriers. Baby slings, wraps, mei tais, and other carriers have almost become a fashion statement as well as a way to transport baby.

More than a fashion statement, Baby Wearing provides huge benefits for both baby's development and your own comfort and convenience. There are a myraid of reasons to carry your baby, including:

  • Ease of transportation - especially in the first four months. Having baby snuggled against you isn't only one of the most precious benefits of parenthood, but if your baby is wrapped or worn close to you they're easier to carry. No car seat to carry, no bulky stroller, a completely hands-free, yet hands-on, way to get about your daily business or stroll the mall, go grocery shopping, go for a walk, etc. Baby Wearing children of all ages makes steps, doorways, aisles, tight corners, uneven ground, narrow trails, and crowded areas easier and safer to navigate.
  • Convenience of feeding. Whether you are a 'scheduled' feeder, or 'on demand', wraps and slings make breastfeeding discretely a breeze. Whether you're out and about, doing chores, or simply enjoying a quiet moment, baby slings and wraps allow you to breastfeed baby without having to stop everything to grab the boppy or other nursing pillow, arrange a nursing bib, etc.
  • Carried babies are INVOLVED. Carried babies, especially those over two months, experience more than babies left in pak 'n plays, swings, jumpers, and exersaucers. I am a HUGE proponent of jumpers and exersaucers (we wouldn't have survived our own babyhood experience with twins without them), but let's face it - if you carry your baby when doing housework you can still sing, talk to yourself, or otherwise do what you would be doing, but instead of baby facing his toys again, he's involved. You can also talk to baby, which for stay-at-home moms might actually give a sense of social interaction, not to mention talking and reading to babies have been shown to help develop language and communication skills. Jumpers, swings and exersaucers are great ways to keep baby entertained when cooking, showering, cleaning with household cleansers, exercising, and other activities that aren't safe to wear baby for, but most activities are baby-safe, and is a great way to involve baby, especially if you are a work-away-from home parent with limited time to spend with baby.
  • Babies can be where the action is. This is ESPECIALLY true of babies aged 4 months through preschool. Imagine looking at life from floor level, or two feet off the ground (stroller height). Babies, toddlers, and even preschoolers who are worn are at your level can better hear your voice, see what you see, and be part of the action, not just an observer at knee level. This is especially beneficial for babies who are out and about. Not to mention, YOU may be encouraged to keep up a running dialogue to baby, which can help language and communication skills.
  • Safety considerations when out and about. Stroller height, especially for toddlers, isn't the safest place to be. First, there's all those things baby can get their hands on that you might not be aware. I have a friend whose son is missing the tips of his fingers because of something he was able to get into while taking a walk in his stroller.
  • If you are out and about you have to be wary of dogs and other animals that are stroller height. I remember going for a walk with my mom and younger brother and sister years (and years and years) ago. I was probably eight, and my younger sister was around the 18 month-2 year age range. My younger sister, who was in a stroller, was attacked by a goose. Honestly. While Dee Dee was fine, this is a real concern when out and about on trails, parks, etc. Many people keep their dogs off-leash when going for walks, not to mention ducks, seagulls, geese, squirrels, peacocks, and even iguanas who become use to being fed by people, and a baby or toddler in a stroller is more suspetable to being bit, especially if they have a snack in hand, or SMELL like they might.

    It's not just animals, but people can create safety hazards for your baby or toddler at stroller or hand-height, too. People, as a rule, tend to not be aware of knee-heighth little ones, and aren't aware that briefcases, umbrellas, hot coffees, etc., can pose a risk, not to mention items that might be dropped or spilled unintentionally. Then there's older kids who run, skate, board, bike, and otherwise transport themselves who may not always be aware of their surroundings, especially strollers and wagons at knee height.

    Another safety concern - strollers may have brakes, but they don't always work. We had a family outing at the local Zoo where we saw a stroller head down a steep path, and the family, involved with an older child and watching the eagle in an exhibit, didn't notice that the stroller, with baby inside, was heading down a path, gaining speed, and heading towards a single handrail that may, or may not have, stopped the stroller from continuing down the side of a hill.

  • Stranger Danger. While the possibility of kidnapping, abduction, or a lost child is fairly low, kids do wander, and, unfortunately, there are evil doers who abduct children. I have yet to hear of a child taken from a parent who was wearing them.
  • Asissts in parents' ability to take care of older and younger children. It's tough for older kids when a new baby comes along, especially for the second-youngest 'baby' in the family. Newborns and babies take a lot of care and attention, time and energy, which usually means older children don't get the same amount of time and attention after the baby is born as they did before. Carrying your youngest gives you the mobility and flexibility you need to take care of, play with, read to, walk with, assist with homework, and otherwise take care of and interact with your older children while keeping your oldest close at hand.
  • Slings help older toddlers and preschoolers welcoming a newborn baby brother or sister into the world, too. With all the attention newborns get from moms, dads, grandparents, and visitors, it's very easy for older kids to feel left out and ignored. You can help your child feel better and extra-special by wearing your toddler or preschooler in spare moments when the baby isn't requiring all of your attention. Using a wrap, sling, or other carrier will help reduce back, shoulder, and neck strain, especially if you're holding two little ones at once.
  • You can get more work done! With baby in a wrap, sling or other carrier, your hands are free allowing you to do tasks such as laundry, light cleaning, yard work, etc. Remember to use common sense precautions by not exposing your baby or toddler to harsh chemicals, hot foods and liquids, cooking surfaces, etc.