Olwen Rowe, co-founder of Die Trageschule® Ireland, is part of an international network of Die Trageschule® trainers providing training in babywearing. Due to her passion about research in infant development, infant and maternal mental health, we asked her to shed some light on how babywearing helps a child's development.
New babies recognise their parents’ smell and the sound of their voice, and are calmer when they are held close either by our arms or in a sling or carrier. Carried babies also experience vestibular stimulation because they moved in every direction, which helps develop their sense of balance, while also helping to soothe them.
Research has shown that when we carry our babies and walk with them that we can elicit a ‘transport response’ in them; much like when a cat picks up her kitten, babies usually respond by physically relaxing and their whole nervous system becomes calm (this research can also help us adapt babywearing for parents who find it difficult or impossible to walk).
Beyond the essential work of building a sense of emotional safety and security, when we keep our babies close, we can support their physical, social and brain development. When they move with us in a sling or carrier, they experience a uniquely rich environment—smells, sounds and sights—, all from the security of being close, where they can rest as needed. When they see us talking to other people or when we talk to them about what we are doing or what we see, or we sing to them, we are helping them do the extraordinary work they started before birth by learning how to understand and speak their mother tongue. When babies start to make sounds in relation to different stimuli we can notice and respond, thus having our very first ‘conversations’. This is so much fun!
Learning to control movement is one of the most powerful developments in the first year. In a sling or carrier, we see how curiosity drives development in a baby, from learning to support their own head to being able to twist and turn and see what’s happening, all from such a good vantage point.
For babies and parents it’s beneficial to have a variety of positions for a baby to be in as they grow and develop: front, hip and back carries are all important for supporting a baby’s development.
Whether it’s to meet your baby’s need for connection or curiosity, a comfortable sling or carrier can be one of the most invaluable tools in a parent’s toolkit. What a joy and a privilege it is to “embrace the future”.