Benefits of Babywearing

toddler babywearingMore and more parents are realizing the immense benefits of wearing their baby. Among these benefits are less crying from your baby, the chance to bond with dad and other caregivers, and increased socialization. Read on to learn more about each of these benefits of babywearing.

Less crying

Another benefit of babywearing is less crying from your baby. According to research, babies who are carried regularly cried an average of 43% less than those who weren’t. Many times babies are fed, changed, and burped, yet continue to cry. Often all they want is to be next to mom or another person. The attention given makes babies feel well-attended to, and the movement from walking resembles the movement the baby got used to while in the womb and so calms the baby down. Also, if there are any loud noises or other things that might scare or startle the baby if he was on his own, mom or dad is right there to offer comforting words and to calm the baby down.

Increased socialization

Babies who are worn by their parents get the chance to experience socialization earlier than those who aren’t. Babies get to see others up close and watch facial expressions of family members and others as they interact with mom or dad. When carried in a cradle hold, where they are face-to-face with mom or dad, they get the benefits of a close up view of emotions and facial expressions.

Increased stimulation by the world around them

When babies are being carried in a sling, particularly in a position where they’re facing outwards, they can learn about the world from your perspective. Rather than laying in a crib or playpen staring at the ceiling, young babies are moving around and being exposed to the world around them. They experience how things move, cause and effect type situations, and they see what everyday life in their world is like. Also, because they are crying less, they have more time for looking around and taking in visual stimuli.

Regulation

Especially in newborns, babywearing helps regulate their bodily processes such as breathing and heart rate. The person wearing the baby acts as an external regulator. The regular rhythms of parents’ breathing, walking, and heartbeat have a regulating effect on the baby’s irregular rhythms.

Increases hormone levels

Babywearing can help increase prolactin (important for breastfeeding) and oxytocin (important for feelings of well-being and happiness) in the mother. These can also help reduce the feelings of stress common in new moms.

Smarter

According to Dr. William Sears, a leading attachment parenting expert, babywearing can help babies become smarter. This is due to the reasons stated above; the increased socialization and stimulation from the objects and people around them provide invaluable learning experiences starting from a young age.

More interaction with dad and other caregivers

Especially if mom is breastfeeding, dad and other family members probably don’t get much opportunity to bond with baby. By babywearing, your baby will get used to the unique rhythms of others, and being comforted by dad and others will help her bond with them.

The Rich History of Babywearing

Cultural BabywearingBabywearing has become popularized recently among those in developing countries. It’s often thought of as a revolutionary new concept. However, babywearing is nothing new; in fact, it has been around for thousands of years. Babywearing has a rich history. Nowadays we have slings and carriers of all different materials and designs, but even before the manufacturing of baby carriers, women used whatever they had to wear their babies, such as sheets or shawls.

Babywearing was the norm in the U.S. until around the 1900′s, when parents were advised by doctors and other child rearing “experts” to not hold their babies very long or their babies would be spoiled. Thus there was a rise in products such as strollers and cribs, and a decline in babywearing. Only the poor who couldn’t afford a stroller would still babywear, and it was looked down upon.

According to drsears.com, one of the leading resources for attachment parenting, in cultures where babywearing is the norm, babies cry much less often, and crying is measured in minutes rather than hours as is common in Westernized cultures. Many women in countries where it is still popular find the fact that some babies ride in strollers perplexing.

Babywearing saw a resurgence in the United States in about 1981, when Rayner Garner invented a sling called a ring sling. The sling was taken up by Dr. William Sears, and it only continued to grow in popularity thereafter. We still have a ways to go before babywearing becomes more mainstream in the U.S. and other Westernized countries, but we are getting there!

Types of baby carriers around the world

It’s a very beautiful thing to see all the different types of baby carriers used around the world. One popular style of baby carrier is called a Mei Tai, which is actually a traditional Chinese baby carrier. The version referred to as a Mei Tai in the U.S. has been modernized, but the concept remains the same. Here are some other examples of traditional baby carriers.

Inuit: Inuit mothers wear their babies in an amauti. This is like an oversized coat with a “pocket” for carrying the baby in.

Native Americans: Babies were often worn in a cradleboard. This was a board to which the baby was tied and the worn on the mother’s back.

Peru: Peruvians mothers wear their babies in a manta.

Welsh: A siol fagu, which means a nursing shawl, was used by Welsh mothers to carry their babies.

Korea: Korean mothers wear a podegi or podegai.

Indonesia: A selendang is a long wrap used in Indonesia for carrying babies.

Papua New Guinea: a bilum is worn across the forehead, and then the baby goes in back.

Mexico: Mexican moms use a rebozo to wear their babies. It is a square shaped cloth.

There are many other countries and cultures in which babywearing was (and sometimes still is) common. In parts of Africa, a khanga is popular. It is a type of wrap that is tied low around a mother’s back, so that the baby rides low. European mothers used to use pouches and wraps as well.

Boba Baby Wrap Review

Green Boba Baby WrapThinking of babywearing but don’t have a big budget for buying a baby carrier? The Boba Baby Wrap is a great option that won’t break the bank, running at a cost of about $38. But can a baby carrier on the lower end of the price range be as good as more high-end ones? Read on to find out.

Design

The Boba Baby Wrap is made out of 95% cotton and 5% spandex. It’s very simple and functional; there are no buttons or snaps to contend with or bother your baby. It’s easy to fold it up and pack it in your diaper bag. There is also the option to purchase an organic version of the wrap. It comes in a wide variety of color and pattern options.

Features

The Boba Baby Wrap is designed for use by the youngest of babies up to about 18 months or 35 pounds. In fact, it is great for use for kangaroo care in premature infants. It can be used for front carry positions as well as infant holds. It is designed so that your baby’s weight is distributed evenly for your comfort. The sturdiness of the material makes it be able to be used hands free. The Boba Baby Wrap is also machine washable.

The Boba Wrap is designed to be easy to use, but they also offer instructions to help you get the hang of tying the wrap. Go here for detailed wrapping instructions for two different holds complete with pictures of every step.

Cost

The Boba Baby Wrap costs $38. The price may be a little higher for certain prints. An organic version is also available for about $60.

Reviews

The Boba Baby Wrap has received 4.3 out of 5 stars as an average customer satisfaction rating on Amazon.com, with a total of 70 reviews.

Customer reviews praised the ease of use. Many agreed that it is an easy wrap to tie, which makes it a good compromise for those who want the customizability of a wrap but not the difficulty of learning to tie it right. There were mixed reviews on the issue of temperature while wearing the wrap. Some said it left them sweating, while others said that compared to other wraps, the Boba wrap was a lot cooler. Another complaint was that for petite people, the amount of fabric after tying was too much. Another commenter mentioned that a good solution was to tie the fabric around again.

On the Boba manufacturer’s website, the wrap got a solid 5 out of 5 stars as rated by seven users. One user has used the Boba wrap over the course of four years and two kids, and she says it’s still as strong as when she first got it. Another reviewer mentioned that it has withstood lots of washings and drying and is still holding up fine. She does mention that learning to tie it just right is a little tough. Another reviewer used it with her newborn and said it was “like a womb outside of the womb”.

You can purchase the Boba Baby Wrap on form Kiwibabyshop.com.  They have a good selection of colors as well as a pattern option and an organic option.

Will Babywearing make my baby too dependent?

Like many other issues where a new mom is going against the norm, a mom’s decision to babywear may be met with resistance from well-meaning family and friends. One question these moms may hear is “Won’t she become too dependent on you if you’re carrying her all the time?” in addition to, “You need to put her down and let her cry more…she’ll get too spoiled.” As inexperienced new moms, some women may question their decision or become unsure of themselves. So, what’s the real answer? Will babywearing make your baby too dependent? The simple answer: No, babywearing will not make your baby too dependent. Read on for an explanation.

Attachment parenting

This is a method of parenting popularized by Dr. William Sears, a pediatrician and author of numerous books. Attachment parenting encourages things like breastfeeding and cosleeping. The idea is to build a loving, trusting relationship with your baby by responding to his needs and keeping him close. Among the things recommended is babywearing.

It all comes down to this one simple principle: your child will feel loved and secure when his needs are met, thus ultimately making him more confident and independent when it’s the right time. Of course, this independence doesn’t come right away, but rather is something instilled in your baby from a young age. The flipside to this is that babies who are left to cry it out may end up feeling less secure in having their needs met, thus leading to decreased independence. Babies who are left on their own may feel insecure because they don’t know whether they will be attended to right away or not when they cry. And no, the experts say your baby will not be spoiled by being taken care of right away. Babies naturally need to be close to their mother especially in their early months.

In addition to gaining the skill of independence, babies who are worn by their mothers also experience better socialization and more stimulation by the world around them. In fact, babywearing is so beneficial for babies that it has led to statements like that of James Prescott, Ph.D., “The single most important child rearing practice to be adopted for the development of emotional and social healthy infants and children is to carry the newborn/infant on the body of the mother/caretaker all day long…”

Common practice

Before the concept of attachment parenting existed, people practiced many of its principles. Babywearing was and still is a very common practice in many countries. With the practice of babywearing being so widespread, it’s hard to imagine that it would be so persistent if it was detrimental to children’s sense of independence. In fact, if we even look at animals, we find that there are many in the animal kingdom that carry their babies as well. It’s a universal practice. In fact, the idea that babies should not be held often, should sleep in a crib, and should be left to “cry it out” is a fairly modern idea, conceived in the early 1900’s.

The bottom line

Babywearing will not make your baby too dependent; on the contrary, it will help make them more independent in the long run. In addition, there are many other benefits of babywearing that make it a practice worth doing with your baby.