While babywearing may seem trendy, it’s actually an age-old tradition that, at its most fundamental, lets you keep your baby safe and close while still allowing freedom of movement, activity, and your hands. The benefits of babywearing are vast—and truly worth considering.
And before you worry if wearing your baby often will lead to spoiling, here’s what the chairman of psychiatry and psychology at the Mayo Clinic, Dr. David Mrazek says, “During the first six months, it’s really impossible to spoil a child. Meeting an infant’s need to be comforted, held and fed in a predictable fashion helps him feel secure and builds a loving relationship between parent and child. It does not lead to spoiling.”
The benefits of babywearing are plentiful for little ones, but you’ll be happy to know there are some pretty great perks for parents, too!
1. You get your hands back!
If your baby is only happy being held, a wrap or sling can be a physical and emotional life saver. It’s far easier to work, do chores, make a meal, or even get in a light workout when you have full use of your hands. Wearing your baby also allows you to be available for an older child who still needs plenty of attention, play time, and physical closeness.
2. It’s an important way to bond with your baby.
The physiological effects of loving touch are impressive. Touch lowers the stress hormone cortisol and boosts “feel-good” endorphins, along with oxytocin, the hormone largely responsible for bonding behavior. When you wear your baby, you provide constant touch and reassurance, plus you’re always available to respond to their cues and meet their needs.
3. Babywearing boosts brain development.
Touch can also activate particular areas of the brain and influence thought processes, reactions, and even physiological responses. One study shows brain scans that reveal how affective touch activates the orbitofrontal cortex, a brain region associated with learning and decision-making as well as with emotional and social behaviors. And when your baby spends less time crying (yes, it’s scientifically proven that babywearing reduces crying by 40%) or worrying that their needs will be met, they can get on with the business of learning and growing with confidence.
4. It can deter strangers from touching your baby.
A baby snuggled right up to your body is less available for random hands and cheek-pinchers than one in a stroller or shopping cart basket. This can help your baby feel safer around strangers and keep unwanted germs at bay.
5. The benefits of babywearing extend to dads, too!
It’s an equally important bonding experience for dad, and it gives you some much-needed time to yourself. Father of four, Ciaran McKenna explains, “The best way to bond, in my opinion, is babywearing. Having your baby so close to you, sleeping on you, getting used to your voice, your smell, your heartbeat.”
6. You can nurse discreetly.
Another pillar of Attachment Parenting is following baby’s cues on frequency and timing of feeding. With many front carries, your little one is in the perfect spot to breastfeed, and they’ll let you know when they’re ready. Plus, studies have shown that another one of the benefits of babywearing is that it increases extended breastfeeding rates.
7. Travel is easy breezy.
While there are situations where a stroller (and it’s carrying capacity) makes sense, wearing your baby in a wrap or sling is the ideal way to travel light. Transitioning (changing environments or going in and out of sleep) is easier, and most parents feel more comfortable having our small child close to us in an unfamiliar place.
8. Babywearing can decrease the risk of postpartum depression.
A more content baby can help with the transition into motherhood and enhance your overall mental wellbeing. One of the most notable benefits of babywearing is that it increases the amount of time spent in skin-to-skin contact with your newborn. And studies have connected this kind of quality time with your newborn with decreased rates of postpartum depression.
These babywearing benefits are all pretty amazing, but just the fact that your baby loves being near you should be reason enough. Plus, there are so many beautiful ways to wear them in wraps, slings, and carriers, you might find yourself pulling out this list to justify adding another carrier to your collection!