Being new to this mum business and having a newborn who cried A LOT my google search history often included questions like “why is my baby crying” “why does my baby wake as soon as I put him down” “why does my baby hate the car seat/pram/bassinet/[insert surface other than my body here]”. You see, I understood what I thought motherhood was from glimpses of motherhood. I had no idea about what it was babies actually needed and what that meant. I knew they needed milk and sleep and love and nappy changes. But what did that mean - for me, as a mother?
It meant hours of trying to soothe a screaming newborn, it meant engorged breasts and endless feeding. It meant feeling like I was doing everything wrong because my baby would only sleep on me after a feed when the advice I received was to not let baby associate feeding with sleep and to put baby down “drowsy but awake”.
But that is normal. My baby’s behaviour was not wrong. It is normal for a baby to need to be close to their mother. To need to feed for hours not only for hunger but for connection, warmth and security. It is normal for a baby to prefer to sleep on their mother/carer than in their bassinet. It is normal and it is ok.
That is why I love babywearing. It is a practice that makes sense for baby and mama. It embraces baby’s needs instead of trying to fight what is normal.
Here are five more reasons why I love babywearing:
Baby loves it:
The fourth trimester is all about transitioning, for both baby and mother. Newborns are used to the environment of the womb: being held tightly, the gentle movement of mum walking and moving, the sound of her voice and her heartbeat. Wearing baby recreates this familiar environment. Every time I have helped a new mum wear their baby in a ring sling, baby has fallen asleep straight away: they are comfortable and know that they’re safe. Studies have shown when babies are held more they cry less. It also assists symptoms for a baby suffering from reflux, as the upright position of being in a sling is more comfortable than lying supine.
As baby gets older, they love being at eye level and interacting with the environment while staying close to their caregiver. It allows for interaction with their environment without over stimulation as they can take rest and comfort by being close to mum or dad.
It is empowering for parents:
It is emotional and tiring when you feel like you don’t know what baby wants. I found out pretty quickly that by wearing my newborn during the ‘witching hours’ he would calm down quicker and even sleep, which meant I was also able to calm down. As he was close to me I also could quickly pick up on early hunger cues and felt more confident that I knew what my baby wanted. Babywearing is a way to provide comfort and meet my baby’s needs while also meeting my own. I could eat, read, go for a walk or hang the washing while baby slept on me. It can be a great tool for postnatal depression and anxiety as it increases bonding and gives mum some hands free time. For my partner it was a great way to practice skin to skin, bond with our baby and gave him confidence that he could contribute to care, especially in the early months when baby was exclusively breastfed.
It aids baby’s development:
Babywearing allows for skin to skin contact with carer and baby. Kangaroo care has been shown to profoundly assist premature and full term babies. Being close to mum can stabilise baby’s body temperature, help regulate baby’s breathing, regulate their blood sugar levels and exposes baby to mum’s good bacteria. Being worn also assists in baby’s physical, emotional, mental and language development. It activates and stimulates all senses and systems. You are more likely to talk to & interact with baby while wearing or holding them as they are close to you, seeing what you are seeing, at your level. They learn about social interactions through looking at your face, feeling your energy and hearing the way you speak. Wearing baby correctly in the optimal position in a sling also supports development of healthy hips.
It facilitates breastfeeding:
Having baby close to you allows easy access for breastfeeding but also allows mum to pick up on early feeding cues which leads to less crying and more confidence in parenting. Once I got the hang of wearing my baby in a ring sling and became confident in breastfeeding I was able to wear my baby and breastfeed him hands free. It can also be a discreet (or not so discreet – the choice is yours!) way to feed baby while out, such as when you’re in the supermarket checkout or on the train. Breastfeeding can be tough, especially in the early days, so having tools to promote and assist is super important.
It is the best way to travel:
When we took my son to meet his relatives overseas we didn’t bother with bringing a pram. I took a ring sling and wore him from the time we got to Melbourne Airport International departures, to the taxi back home from arrivals and everywhere in between. My ring sling folded up super small so it was in my carry on or in my handbag everywhere we went (when it wasn’t literally on my body). It meant we could move through airports and busy streets without heaps of luggage and baby was always safe because I could see him. He could also breastfeed and sleep in the sling while we were out and about which made travelling easier. Even at home, in Melbourne, it’s the best way to jump on a train for a trip to the city. Mums of more than one child also tell me it’s super handy to wear the baby while having your hands free for your older child(ren) when going out.
Babywearing is an amazing tool and there are plenty of resources and support out there if you’re just getting started (here's some safe babywearing tips here). Don’t hesitate to get in touch, with certified babywearing consultants on staff, we can help you safely wear your baby.
Happy babywearing xo