Babywearing has been practiced for centuries around the world. But with the modern influence of attachment parenting, it’s coming back into style.
Babywearing is the practice of carrying a baby in a sling or similar close-hold carrier. It’s a form of baby transport that can be used as long as desired for parent and child, often through the toddler stage.
This method allows the wearer to have their hands free for tasks while holding a baby. A sling or soft carrier also distributes a child’s weight more evenly, which can be a lot easier on a parent’s back and shoulders than a traditional carrier. Most caregivers practice babywearing while cleaning, cooking, and transporting their baby outside the house.
There are some proven benefits of babywearing: especially with newborns, a mother’s oxytocin levels are increased through physical contact with their infant, leading to a more intimate maternal bond. High oxytocin levels also make breastfeeding easier and lower the chances of postpartum depression. Babywearing has a positive effect for fathers as well.
Certain babywearing positions can also help prevent positional plagiocephaly, a condition where infants can develop a flat spot on their head from too much time in car seats or sleeping on their backs. When babies are held vertically in a sling, there’s less pressure on their heads.
Studies have shown that infants who are carried close to an adult’s body are generally calmer because more of their survival needs are met. Babies can see, hear, smell, touch, and feel their parent more closely, and the motion helps them develop balance faster. Also, because they’re closer to people’s faces, they’re likely to learn facial expressions and languages at an earlier age.
Carriers like wraps and slings are available in hundreds of different designs and colors, and come in fabrics like silk, hemp, cotton, wool, fleece, linen, and some synthetic blends. It’s an age-old tradition — but it’s thriving in the modern world.