You may have heard the term “babywearing,” but if you’re like most people, you don’t really understand what it means. You’ve seen people using slings and baby carriers, but you might think it’s silly, awkward, or inconvenient. But babywearing has been around since the beginning of time as a practical way to carry your baby while still being able to go about your daily business.
What is babywearing?
Babywearing means carrying your baby using a sling, wrap, or other type of carrier. Many parents wear their babies during shopping trips or on walks. Still others wear their babies more frequently, using a sling around the house while doing chores.
Many people have the mistaken impression that babies who are worn don’t get enough floor time because they are constantly being held, and subsequently their skills are delayed. This is far from the truth. Parents who wear their babies around the house do so in lieu of a swing or bouncy seat. Those times when other parents put baby in a swing to soothe tired cries, a babywearing parent will put baby in a sling. Baby still gets plenty of floor time to work on her motor skills. Some studies have shown that babywearing may actually lead to accelerated motor skills, although these findings are not conclusive. Regardless, babywearing will not stunt your child’s development in the least.
Who practices babywearing?
Babywearing has been around for millennia. Every culture has practiced babywearing at some point in history. These days, babywearing is still very common in most parts of the world. It is extremely common in Africa and Asia, and is a fast-growing trend here in America as well. Moms (and dads) from all walks of life are jumping on the babywearing train, and loving it. Look to your favorite celebrities: Angelina Jolie, Gwen Stefani, Madonna, Kate Hudson, Paul McCartney, and Christian Bale, along with many others, have all been spotted wearing their babies.
How does babywearing benefit the baby?
Babywearing is a wonderful way to increase closeness and foster a sense of security in your baby. Babywearing allows your baby to feel your heartbeat and body heat, as well as smelling your scent and simply feeling you close to her. Babies have a natural need to be close to us, and babywearing helps us meet that need in a way that’s more convenient for us.
High-needs or colicky babies can greatly benefit from babywearing. Some babies have a greater need to be held than others, but it’s not always practical to sit around holding the baby all day. Babywearing is a great compromise – baby gets the closeness she needs without tying you down.
Babywearing can also help your baby sleep at night. If baby gets the snuggling and closeness she needs during the day, she’s less likely to wake up lonely during the night. And if she’s having trouble going down at bedtime, a little time in the sling with Mommy or Daddy just might do the trick.
How does babywearing benefit the parents?
Wearing your baby frees you up to get more things done. When baby needs to be held but you have things to do, simply place her in a sling or a wrap and go about your business. Baby is happy, and you can still get the housework and errands done.
Also, babywearing is much more convenient for day trips than, say, toting around a stroller. Your wrap or sling can be rolled up and tossed into the diaper bag, making it much more practical for traveling. Babywearing is much more convenient for parents who use public transportation as well – no need to lug a stroller up the bus steps or make sure you have enough room for an infant seat on the subway.
In addition to the convenience factor, babywearing also tends to be much more cost-effective than using a stroller. You can get a quality handmade sling for around $35 in most cases – much less expensive than a stroller. Depending on what kind of carrier you purchase, you may be able to use the same carrier from infancy on up through toddlerhood. If you really want to save money, you can even make your own sling or wrap with minimal sewing skills. I made two wraps and a sling for less than $30 total and about 4 hours worth of work. Not bad, eh?
So if you’re looking for a hip, inexpensive, convenient way to carry your baby while you’re out on the town, or even around the house on a fussy day, consider babywearing. At the end of this article you will find links to some websites where you can purchase cloth baby carriers, or simply download instructions on making your own. You and your baby will love it!