All throughout my pregnancy I have been trying to take it just one day at a time. This is good in the sense that I am focusing on the here and now and not stressing over what I cannot control (i.e. the future). However, this makes planning for and visualizing when the baby actually arrives a little difficult. At a recent Atlanta Birth Center Benefit, Mayim Bialik spoke of many things that inspired me to begin to visualize myself as a parent. Various topics were discussed from breastfeeding to elimination communication, but on my way home that evening, I found myself really thinking about Mayim’s views on babywearing.
I am not sure I had even heard the word “babywearing” before attending the benefit. I had, of course, seen parents carry their children in slings and carriers, but I was not aware that it was such a significant lifestyle choice that many parents make around the world. You can read about various cultures proudly wearing their babies at Parenting With Presence and view a beautiful flickr pool of babies being worn in many different countries. Babywearing is a parenting style that simply means holding your baby close in a sling or carrier frequently throughout the day to help build a secure attachment with your child. Think of babywearing as an extension of the womb, a natural place for your baby to transition to the outside world. Leading pediatrician, Dr. Sears recommends viewing the normal gestational period as 18 months: 9 months in the womb and 9 months outside of the womb. After birth, your baby still needs similar amounts of closeness, security, and touch. Here is what I have since learned about my new vocabulary word:
Wearing your baby has many benefits for you.
- It’s convenient. Slings are more economical than a stroller and allow you to still use your hands for the many other tasks you need to do throughout the day. Slings and carriers are not as awkward and heavy as using a car seat or stroller to carry your baby around.
- As you wear your baby, you get to cuddle him or her as much as you want. Other caregivers can use the sling to snuggle the baby and build that intimate connection, too.
- Using a sling helps distribute baby’s weight evenly across your upper body. Plus, when you wear baby while walking around with a baby in a carrier, it counts as a form of exercise!
- Slings come in so many different color and fabric choices. Find one that makes a fashion statement and makes you feel like the proud and beautiful parent that you are!
There are also many benefits for the baby.
- Newborns and infants love to be held, and feeling the rhythm of the mother’s walk and hearing her heartbeat are soothing as they remind the newborn of being in the womb. Babies are more calm and content being in a sling where they are comforted by your warmth and security, and therefore cry less.
- Being that close in proximity allows for more interaction, and you become more familiar with your baby’s cues so that you can develop more effective communication early on.
- Babywearing provides for convenient, frequent breastfeeding opportunities, and being carried in an upright position aids in digestion, which means less spit up.
- Babies learn a lot as they view the world from the sling (and since they cry less, they are able to use their energy to learn more). From the sling, the baby has good view of either your face or the environment around. Both experiences allow baby to take in external stimuli of speech and visual experiences in a state Dr. Sears calls “quiet alertness.” As your movement stimulates baby, they develop motor skills and a sense of balance while experiencing human touch.
Ready to start wearing your baby? There are many websites full of tips and reviews of different types of carriers. BecomingMamas.com and Better Babywearing are great starting points when it comes to selecting a carrier. Read about different positions for carrying your baby at TheBabyWearer.com which takes the age of your baby and your type of carrier into consideration. You can purchase a Babywearing 101 guide at Mothering.com in print or digital form. Over at Where in the World is Erin?, Erin gives detailed information about her favorite woven wraps in addition to documenting her travels while wearing her 7 month old across Europe. (She points out two perks of wearing your baby while traveling– no bulky strollers to lug around and sightseeing doesn’t have to revolve around naptimes as baby can sleep in the sling anytime!) If you decide to wear your baby, make sure you do so safely, by following these simple safety tips. Also, if you’d like to learn more in person, check out Koalamommas – a local babywearing group with monthly meetings in Decatur and Marietta- and Natural Parenting Atlanta Babywearing Basics workshops offered monthly in Atlanta. If you’re interested in babywearing, keep your eye out for an upcoming blog post about types of slings and carriers. What are your favorite reasons to wear your baby?