Benefits of Babywearing - Backed by Science
Carrying your baby heart to heart has been practised for centuries all around the world. Now research is showing tangible benefits to your baby's health, development and attachment. We are taking a look at the science behind it and how it benefits you and your baby.
TRANSITION AFTER BIRTH
Benefits of wearing your baby are perhaps best understood in the context of the womb. Nine months on the inside provide your baby with a safe, tight, comforting, warm environment that helps to regulate your baby's systems. By wearing your baby, you are extending some of the key, familiar features beyond the womb, easing your baby's transition into the open environment.
Soft carriers will wrap around your baby tightly, resembling the sensation of being held in the womb. Your baby's head will rest on your chest allowing them to hear the familiar sound of your heartbeat and voice. Your baby will also love the gentle swaying sensation as you walk around- just like when they were on the inside.
Amazingly research shows that by wearing your baby, you can help them regulate physiological functions too! Read on to find out more.
REGULATING YOUR BABY'S SYSTEMS
It might seem crazy, but your temperature, while you wear your baby, will change to help your baby adjust. If your baby gets too cold, your temperature will increase to warm your baby up. If your baby gets too hot, your temperature will decrease to help them stay cooler!
Research also shows that keeping your baby close on your chest keeps their heart rate more stable. A steady and stable heart rate is especially crucial as your baby's brain relies on a steady supply of oxygen.
When being carried, your baby is likely to sleep sounder, deeper and for longer. You will also notice that your baby is calmer. According to research, baby wearing can reduce infant crying by as much as 43%.
Staying calm and sleeping well, not surprisingly, means that your baby is wasting less of its precious energy. Over time this conserved energy is used directly for growth.
MINIMISING NEGATIVE ENVIRONMENTAL EFFECTS
Colic & Reflux
More than half of infants experience some degree of discomfort due to reflux, and over 20% will suffer from colic. Simply being up-right keeps the content of your baby's little stomachs from spilling and causing the uncomfortable, burning sensation. Extra cuddles are sure to help too!
Flat Head Syndrome
One in 5 babies might be affected by plagiocephaly or brachycephaly (Flat Head Syndrome). The most common cause being babies sleeping on their backs, where the relatively soft skull can change shape under the continuous pressure on one spot.
By carrying your baby regularly and allowing them to nap in the carrier, you can significantly reduce the pressure on the back of their soft skull and help to prevent the flat head syndrome.
Babies that have been carried on caregiver's chest score higher on mental and development tests in the first year of life. It's not surprising given how much more involved your baby becomes in your world. From washing the dishes to watching you interact with others, the stimulation of all senses results in more neurological connections being made.
It WON'T make your baby CLINGY
Quite the opposite! Much research in psychology has focused on how forms of attachment to the caregiver differ among infants. The four main types being:
Avoidant/ Insecure attachment– dismissing;
Anxious attachment– preoccupied; and
Disorganized – unresolved.
Wearing your baby close on your chest meets baby's needs for physical contact, affection, security, stimulation, and movement (all of which encourage neurological development) while on the go and build the foundations of secure attachment. And you guessed it... a secure attachment bond ensures that your child will feel safe, understood and feel protected by their caregivers, and they know that they can depend on them to return if left alone.
An insecure attachment bond can contribute to childhood problems such as separation anxiety, causing your baby to be clingy and unhappy about being left alone.
IT'S GOOD FOR THE MUM TOO
And let's not forget- wearing your baby is good for you too!
If you are breastfeeding, wearing your baby will help to enhance your milk supply and strengthen the bond with your infant. The lightness of the fabric means that moving around or sitting down is easy. Nothing cuts in, nothing prods you in the back.
But best of all, with the benefits to your baby in mind, it gives you your hands back so that you can get things done while your baby is being constantly comforted.