15 Reasons to Baby-Wear

Baby Wearing Cord Mama

I’ve been called “crunchy” more than a time or two. Granola. Hippie. Terms that conjure images of long, straight hair (my hair is a wild mess in the middle of the spectrum), flowers (I am more of an edibles kind of girl) and braless tunics (not since my breastfeeding boobs went all National Geographic on me).  

I digress. 

Being the crunchy mom that I am, I am a big fan of babywearing. And so is my 7 month old daughter. I wear my daughter constantly – at the grocery, on cranky mornings (either she or I), on hikes, at cocktail parties, church, and wedding showers, and, dare I say, for each of her daily naps. Three naps. Each day. Every day. You read that correctly. She sleeps longer (1hr+ 3xs/day) and goes to sleep more quickly (+/- 5 minutes). She is a happier baby, and, consequently, I am a happier mama. 

So, needless to say, I am excited to share a few thoughts on babywearing today. 

First, I want to be clear on a few things. 
1. Just because I wear my baby like it’s an Olympic sport, doesn’t mean I think everyone should.
2. I have nothing against crib-napping and sleeping (my kid, however, seemingly does) – if it works for you, fabulous. I’m even a little jealous. 
3.  I have nothing against strollers. My kid dislikes her carseat, regardless of if it’s in the car, in the stroller, on a boat, with a goat - you get the idea. She does, however, like her jogger – big bonus for me since jogging + babywearing ≠ winning idea. 

Babywearing Basics
Now that we’ve cleared the air, let’s get down to babywearing business. 

What is babywearing? Babywearing is simply the act of carrying your baby (or young child) around in some sort of soft carrier – sling, wrap, Moby, Ergo, Boba, etc. Some are ready to rock with a few quick buckles, while others require ninja moves to install on your body – take your pick. Though there are many newfangled options for strapping our muchkins to our torsos, this is an primeval practice going back thousands of years. Not too many BOB’s rolling around in ancient Rome.

15 Reasons to Consider Babywearing
Now that’s all well and good, but why should I consider wearing my baby? 

1. It’s convenient. No lugging strollers or carseats or other cumbersome contraptions. 

2. It’s a space saver. I grow weary of only being able to buy 2 apples and 3 yogurts at the grocery because my carseat takes up my entire grocery cart.

3. Babies who are worn for at least 3 hours/day cry 43% less during the day and 54% less during the “witching hours” at night[1]

4. Babywearing helps regulate baby’s physiological processes (heart rate, blood pressure, temperature, neurological stimulation, etc.), especially if when born premature or with low birth weight (known as “kangaroo care”).[2]

5. Babywearing parents are able to closely observe baby’s cues and facial expressions, allowing baby to more subtly communicate needs. 

6. Babywearing is beneficial for baby’s mental development. Babies who are worn spend more time in the “quiet alert” state, the ideal mental state for learning. 

7. Babywearing provides “hands free” holding and soothing.

8. With little time to exercise, carrying your baby strengthens your back, core and shoulders. 

9. Babywearing provides a safe way to navigate large crowds and busy environments. 

10. Some studies provide evidence that babywearing leads to deeper attachment to the baby’s caregiver[3], and greater independence at an earlier age.[4]

11. Some experts suggest babywearing enhances speech development because babies who are worn are at voice level and exposed to more adult conversations.[5]

12. Babywearing provides a private nursing situation without having to use a cover.

13. Babywearing allows mom (or Dad or Grandma) to keep baby close while still engaging older children.

14. Some experts suggest that the natural massaging of baby’s stomach and inside of the thighs (acupressure point for digestion) help reduce digestion issues and the prevalence of colic. [6]

15. Men are super-cute babywearers. 

The Physiological Position
Since my bambino spends upwards of 4+ hours in her carrier per day, I recognized the importance of her position being natural and physiologically conducive to healthy development (especially of her hips and back). In all my nerdy research, I have found no greater site for babywearing questions than thisThis is another great site, too. You can scour these sites for all your babywearing FAQs, but here’s the gist on the physiological position (ideal physical position for babies to be in while being worn):

  • Legs should be in “frog” position (spin curved, pelvis tilted forward, legs and arms bent, knees even with naval).
  • For babes <3-4 months, knees should not be open wider than pelvis. For babes > 3-4 months, knees can typically open wider, straddling  the wearer. 

What Type of Carrier Should I Choose
There are about a gazillion options for carriers. When you’re trudging through the jungle of choices, you will have two main categories to choose from: wrap (including slings) or soft-side. It is all a matter of preference. Of the wraps, Moby and Boba are two of the big names. The main difference between these two is the material – the Moby has a tendency to stretch out after baby has been carried, while the Boba contains more spandex and tends to maintain its shape better. My little munchkin adored her Moby (and still does), but I began finding it cumbersome to wrap in parking lots, carry on airplanes, etc. We upgraded to the Boba 3G and adore it. 

Boba and Ergobaby are two big names in the soft-side carrier category. Monet loves her Ergo, and I, my Boba. I find them almost identical in every way; the only real difference is the Ergo buckles on the side, while the Boba buckles in the middle of the back, making the Boba a bit easier to get into without assistance. 

Wrapping Things Up (pun intended)
If you and your baby love your stroller, stroll on! But if not, babywearing may be a fantastic option for you! It provides me the freedom to work, cook (safely), take conference calls, exercise, read, brush my teeth, etc. while keeping my little munchkin close by. She loves exploring the world from her safe perch on my chest, reaching out when she’s ready for more stimulation, and snuggling back in when she needs a break. 

One final tip – though the practice of babywearing is timeless, carriers can get pricey! I suggest trying maternity consignment stores, Goodwill, Craigslist and Ebay. You can typically find one at a big discount – toss it in the wash, and you’re good to go!

Have questions or comments on babywearing? Have any tips on carriers or strategies? Let us know! Comment below or send me an email at Kelsey@CordMama.com. I’d love to hear from you!

Sources:
[1] Hunziker UA, Garr RG. (1986) Increased carrying reduces infant crying: A random-ized controlled trial. Pediatrics 77:641-648
[2] http://www.boba.com/research/kangaroo-care-20-reasons-to-use-it-with-your-preemie/
[3] Ludington-Hoe SM, Swinth JY. (1996). Developmental aspects of kangaroo care. Journal of Obstetric, Gynecologic, and Neonatal Nursing, 25, 691-703.
[4] Pelaez-Nogueras M, Field TM, Hossain Z, Pickens J. (1996). Depressed mothers' touching increases infants' positive affect and attention in still-face interactions. Child Development, 67, 1780-92.
[5] http://www.askdrsears.com/topics/health-concerns/fussy-baby/baby-wearing/benefits-babywearing
[6] Dr. Eckhard Bonnet (specialist in paediatrics, youth medicine, environmental medicine and sports medicine). 1998. Krankengymnastik 50 Jg No.8