Benefits of Babywearing
Can you ever hold a baby “too much” and spoil them? Not possible! Actually, touch is very important for brain development in babies.
Studies have found that babies who are held and touched a lot are calmer, have better weight gain and develop faster. Premature babies who get kangaroo care (that is skin to skin contact on a parent’s chest) have more stable breathing and heart rates and breastfeed better.
While babies need to be held a lot, it is also true that parents have many other things to do. We need to eat, do chores, attend to older siblings, go for groceries etc. I sure wished I had a few extra hands to hold baby, eat and do chores all at the same time! Nature has only given us two hands, but here is where baby-wearing comes in.
Baby-wearing is using a baby carrier to hold your baby in close contact with you, while keeping your hands free. Voila! Best of both the worlds. In this article, I am going to explain how baby-wearing helps your baby’s development.
Baby-wearing benefits babies and parents. For the parents, baby-wearing means they can hold the baby and have their hands free. Ergonomic baby carriers like the Kol-Kol carriers do not put strain on the parent’s back/neck or shoulders and the baby’s developing hip and spine. Ergonomic carriers are so good that you can ever wear a 3 or 4 year old in them, without straining your back.
As a lactation counsellor, I always recommend that mothers baby-wear and go outside for a walk as soon as possible after birth. This has two benefits, one, the mother feels emotionally and physically better with some fresh air and exercise; and two, the baby’s vestibular (movement) system is stimulated because the baby’s brain perceives that the baby’s body is moving. The vestibular system consists of three semi-circular canals in our inner ears, which constantly give feedback to the brain about our movement, posture and balance.
Vestibular input like rocking or gently swinging the baby helps calm them down. All parents instinctively rock new born babies to calm them down, don’t they? Baby-wearing while walking means that the baby can get the benefits of the rocking motion, without you having to tire out your arms.
Vestibular input helps make your baby quiet and alert. This quiet alert stage is optimal for learning and development.
Baby-wearing helps your baby’s speech development. Yes, you read that right. Long before they can talk, babies are “learning” by listening to speech around them. Keeping your baby close to you by wearing them helps them “hear” a lot of speech sounds when you interact with other people and it motivates you to talk more with your baby. Make sure that your baby is exposed to all the languages spoken at home, because babies are hard-wired to pick up many languages.
Baby-wearing can help prevent babies from developing flat heads. Speaking as a physiotherapist who works with children, I can tell you that too many babies are developing flat spots on their heads because they spend the majority of their time only on their backs. Babies need lots of tummy time on the floor to help them develop muscle strength, vision and movement. After tummy time on the floor, the next best position for babies is to be held upright in the carrier.
We often get parents of 4 or 5 month old babies telling us that their babies want to “sit” and then “stand” by pushing down on the parent’s lap with their legs. This is not good, because we want babies to learn to sit on their own. Baby-wearing lets a baby be upright without this trying to “stand”.
Baby-wearing makes it easier for other family members to bond with the baby. Many fathers and grandparents love the fact that they can get the physical closeness with their babies/grandchildren, that breastfeeding offers mothers. Baby-wearing and walking around can also help fathers get their babies or toddlers asleep for nap or night time.
Baby-wearing makes travelling very easy. Mother can nurse baby in the carrier. Babies can take their naps on the go. Parents don’t have to lug around prams and strollers and look for ramps or lifts. Parents don’t have to struggle with tired toddlers who do not want to walk around. Simply pop your baby or toddler into a carrier and go!
So there you are. Babywearing is convenient for you and has many benefits for your baby. If you don’t have a carrier, get one today and enjoy! Happy Babywearing.
- This article is written by Puja Padbidri, Paediatric Physiotherapist (USA), Founder-The Yearling House & Aparna Bhat , Physiotherapist and Certified Lactation Educator Counselor, Partner- The Yearling House
To know more about The Yearling House, please visit their website, www.theyearlinghouse.com.