Modern babies are held as little as 20% of the day due to parents having various gadgets to ‘help’ – we shift them from cot to pram to bouncer to swing-chair to car-seat. No need to take them from the car-seat, simply take it with!
All of these devices make a parents life much more convenient but what about the baby? Is it as beneficial to the baby? Babies have an instinctive need to be in-arms. Human babies are born virtually helpless and so they rely totally on their caregiver to meet all their needs. They know that the safest place to be is close to their mother/carer. They are designed to crave close human contact as this is what ensured their survival over the centuries.
Although the environment that most babies are born into today is a lot safer than 100’s of years ago, and babies survival does not depend on them being with their mother at all times, babies are still programmed to want this contact. Their physical survival might not depend on it, but their emotional development still needs this contact.
Not only does being close to the parent ensure their survival but they also know that the best place for them to learn about what their species does is to be as close as possible to people so they can watch, listen learn and copy.
Baby wearing also creates a strong bond between caregiver and baby, this attachment in the baby years can boost a child’s confidence in themselves and there relationship with their parents for years to come. They know from the start that they are important enough for you to meet their needs by keeping them close to you. Dr Sears an American Paediatrician and advocate of attachment parenting says “With the high-touch parenting style called attachment parenting, you can build and strengthen this connection between you and your child, laying the foundation for discipline.” (to read more visit www.askdrsears.com )
So while all these modern gadgets may be good for us as parents we need to consider their impact on our babies who need this vital contact. Practically however there are not many of us who can sit around all day just holding our baby. There is house work to do, other children to take care of. Life has to carry on and a mom needs to be hands free and yet have her baby close to her.
Traditionally in South Africa as with other non-western communities there is a long history of baby wearing, and although now there are lots of different types of carriers, slings and devises that can help you keep your precious baby close to you, is it not time we considered the benefits of Baby Wearing?
1. Happy baby: Babies want to be near their moms so a baby who is carried is a lot calmer, they cry and fuss less.
2. Decreased colic: Many moms said that a sling help with colic by reducing vomiting and excess spitting up.
3. Looks after tiny backs: The wrap and sling conform to the baby’s body and eliminate pressure on their developing backs, in other carriers they hang by their crotch.
4. Very comfortable for mom/dad: No rigid frame with set arm and leg openings, the sling or wrap conform to your torso and are very adjustable.
5. Many different positions to keep baby happy: Both the sling and wrap have many different positions that you can use which you can change depending on your baby’s age and mood.
6. Improves baby’s development: Babies who are held and cuddled a lot develop mentally and physically much quicker than babies who receive minimal physical contact.
7. Enhanced language and social skills: Babies who are worn watch adults talking and interacting at eye level and will learn more than a baby in a pram who can not observe conversation.
8. Baby feels secure: Not only is baby happiest with mom but in a new environment especially one like a shopping centre with a lot of outside stimulation babies often feel very insecure and so by wearing them you can help them feel safe in all situations.
9. Weight distribution: The sling distributes the weight over your shoulder, entire back and hip; the wrap distributes it over both shoulders, back and hips. They are both much more comfortable that a conventional carrier in which the baby hangs on your shoulders and so you are more likely to wear your baby for longer.
10. Spare hands: This is what all moms’ need, more hands. It is a lot easier to get daily tasks done with wearing your baby than to try and rush to do things before baby starts crying.
The Earth Babies website (www.earthbabies.co.za) has a comparison of different types of Baby Wearing Carriers and advice how to choose what will be best for you and your baby.