You count down the days until you can cradle your long-awaited bundle of joy, and once he arrives you’d like to do nothing more than hold him around the clock. But as nice as it would be to ignore daily tasks in favor of cuddle time, you quickly discover that there are duties you can’t complete without your hands—pesky little chores like unloading the dishwasher and putting on pants. What’s an infant-infatuated mama to do? Arm yourself with some knowledge and a little fabric and carry on.
The benefits of babywearing
The mother’s intuition that urges you to pick up and hold your crying baby comes from a deep-seated place: Women have been wearing their children for the purposes of comfort and nurture for thousands of years. Our forebears knew that parents and babies belonged together, and here’s why.
Keeping mum on mom
A randomized controlled study published in Pediatrics reported that babies who are worn cry an average of 43 percent less than babies who are not. Aside from being a bonus for your ears and nerves, this advantage also boosts baby’s development by keeping him quiet and alert longer, which is a state more conducive to learning. He’ll observe more about the world around him while you’ll enjoy the peace your presence creates.
Womb with a view
Prior to birth, your baby was accustomed to being snug and warm in a fairly confined space. William Sears, MD, author of The Attachment Parenting Book, considers babywearing to be a continuation of a baby’s maturation inside the uterus. “By extending the womb experience, the babywearing mother (or father) provides an external regulating system that balances the irregular and disorganized tendencies of the baby,” says Sears on his website AskDrSears.com. “Gestation lasts 18 months—nine months inside the womb and at least nine more months outside.”
The more time you spend in close contact with your baby, the better you will be at reading his cues, which will help you anticipate his needs with greater success. Your faith in yourself as a highly competent baby-raiser will skyrocket, and both your baby and your fears will be calmed as a result.
If your child is used to being worn, leaving him with grandma, grandpa or auntie will be a much simpler transaction. Letting other family members in on the babywearing action helps them bond with baby as well and learn the ins and outs of their newest and smallest kin.
Whether he needs a snooze or snack, you won’t have to alter your activities to find an out-of-the-way spot to soothe baby. He can nap nestled up to his favorite pillow and get his meals to go, leaving you free to finish up a book with an older sibling or make some lunch to enjoy yourself.
Finding your fit
To pick the right carrier for you, consider your baby’s age and what positions you’re most interested in trying, and then ask your babywearing friends what they recommend. Borrow one or two and try them out (start with a bag of apples or a doll before loading in your little one). Once you’ve found your fit, build up your baby’s endurance by wearing him at short intervals for the first few days then gradually increasing the length and frequency of your carry sessions.
Safety first! Always abide by safe carrying practices: Read all instructions for your carrier prior to use, ensure your baby is within the recommended weight range, and frequently check to make certain your little one hasn’t buried his face toward the fabric and has plenty of breathing room.