To celebrate International Babywearing Week, we spoke to Tricia Nugent, certified babywearing consultant, on the fundamentals of babywearing and its various benefits.
Very simply babywearing is the practice of carrying a baby or toddler in a sling, wrap or carrier while getting on with everyday life. It’s a practice that dates back hundreds and hundreds of years and is still used today as the primary mode of transporting babies in many cultures.
On a very practical level babywearing is fantastic as it allows parents to get to places that ordinarily can’t be accessed by buggies for example forests, beaches and mountain walks. Using a sling is also fantastic when using public transport and while travelling. Babywearing allows us to hold our babies close while exercising (i.e. walking), tending to household tasks, while shopping or of course keeping our baby happy while we eat, tend to other children etc
In addition to all the practical benefits of babywearing, there are lots of physical and emotional benefits to using slings with a baby for example
- Babywearing provides the baby with security. Being held tight in the sling mimics how they experienced life in the womb; they can hear their parents heartbeat, smell their familiar smell and they thrive on this close contact. Babywearing is a really special opportunity to develop a lasting bond with the baby.
- Babies who are carried regularly in a sling tend to cry less and sleep more, which obviously is very beneficial for both, parents and babies. Babies need sleep for their brain development and for their developing immune system. Parents very often report feeling more confident when their baby is settled and calm.
- Carrying a baby in a sling can aid with early language development, as the baby is right up beside the parent and can see their parents mouth moving and really hear the words been spoken.
- Babies that are left lying flat on their backs for long periods of time can develop plagiocephaly carrying a baby in a sling reduces the time babies are on their backs and therefore can help prevent against this.
- Using a sling can assist with breastfeeding. Practically a baby can be fed in certain slings, for example the stretchy wrap, allowing the mother to have her hands free. Carrying a baby in a sling can also boost milk production - oxytocin is an important hormone involved in milk production that is increased with babywearing.
Carrying a baby in a sling means there is constant contact which helps with post natal depression, bonding, increases oxytocin and reduces cortisol, babies tend to cry less which builds confidence in one's parenting and coping skills. Let these benefits be an excuse for you to wear your baby confidently!