It is the one essential baby item I couldn’t do without. My husband calls it part of my “mom uniform.” I call it a lifesaver. I honestly don’t know I would have parented our babies without it.
It’s the baby carrier.
We’ve held our babies close while doing laundry, making meals, going for walks, hanging laundry, grocery shopping, vacuuming, square dancing, and even climbing a lighthouse. We’ve used our baby carriers at home, the beach, sporting events, weddings, the doctor’s office, the mall, the zoo, concerts, and performances. We’ve worn our children against our chests as newborns and on our backs as toddlers.
We just love baby wearing. Here’s why.
Baby Wearing Makes Life Easier
We have what has been lovingly coined as “velcro babies”; the type that want to be snug up against you all the time, day and night. Babies, by nature, want to be close to their parents (especially during the “fourth trimester”) and feel most safe and secure when they can hear Mom’s heartbeat, rock to Dad’s movement.
Baby wearing simply makes life easier. It allows you to be near your baby and attend to his needs while having two hands free. This makes the daily “to-do” list a lot easier to achieve. Though Kevin made fun of me, I wore a carrier almost all day, whether my baby was in it or not. I would simply pop them in when they got fussy or when I was running errands. While we do use a stroller, I almost always chose to use a carrier for babies under a year. For one, they take up significantly less space. You don’t need to worry about navigating a stroller around a store, and you can still push a cart. Also, my babies were so much more content being near me, which meant that I could be out longer periods of time without either of us having a breakdown.
Baby wearing also makes outings more enjoyable. We did a lot of things we wanted to do without feeling hindered by an infant; we simply carried them with us. When Lucy was just shy of three weeks old, we decided to take an outing to a local theater to see a show. We snuggled her into our Mobywrap and went in confidently. While the ticket lady was skeptical, I assured her that my baby would be fine throughout the show, and if she did get fussy, I would take her out. Lucy nursed in the wrap, slept in the wrap, and was quite content. When intermission came, the people around us were shocked to find out they had been sitting next to a baby the entire time.
This past week, Lucy was sick with hand, foot, and mouth disease and, consequently, miserable. Every time I put her down on the floor, she cried. I strapped her in the Ergo and wore her around the house all day. It also allowed me to keep her close while playing with Levi.
This is another great thing about baby wearing: it makes parenting multiple children simpler. With one content snuggled up against you, it’s easier to attend to your other child(ren).
Baby Wearing Helps Dads and Babies Bond
The day after we brought Levi home from the hospital, Kevin was unwrapping our Moby wrap, adamant about figuring out how to turn the yards of fabric into a functional carrier. Within minutes, he had Levi snuggled up inside, a triumphant smile on his face.
Dads may not be able to breastfeed, but they certainly can comfort and nurture their babies, and baby wearing is an excellent way to do that. It also allows Dad to feel like he can help Mom out and give her a break, increasing his confidence as a caregiver. There’s also something special about having your child snuggled up against you. Kevin often requested to wear our babies; it was a special time of bonding for him.
Baby Wearing is Good for Baby
Not only is baby wearing nice for parents, it’s excellent for babies. The revered Dr. Sears considers baby wearing to be one of the seven tools of attachment parenting. In The Attachment Parenting Book he reminds us that for much of human history, women around the world have worn their babies because babies are “happiest in the arms of their mother or another person who cares about them,” (pg 65).
Baby wearing helps keeps babies calm and content, and anthropological studies have shown that babies that are worn cry significantly less. It provides babies with what Sears calls an “external regulating system” that mimics what the baby had in utero; “Father’s rhythmic walk recalls the womb experience and calms baby. Cuddled next to his mother’s body, baby hears her heartbeat, beautifully regular and familiar, and senses her breathing,” (pg 69). These rhythms help keep baby settled and feel secure, minimizing stress and providing baby optimal opportunities to learn and grow.
Babies who are worn spend more time in what Sears calls a quiet, alert state, making them more likely to take in what’s going on around them. Because they are near to their parents, they see and experience more than babies who are laid down in a swing or in a playpen. Overhearing adult conversations assists in their speech development, and being included in their caregiver’s daily activities teaches them about the world.
Baby wearing promotes breastfeeding; babies snuggled up next to their mom nurse more frequently, and the regular skin-to-skin contact assists in milk production. Baby carriers also provide a discreet place for babies to nurse while Mom goes about her daily activities.
Baby wearing also creates a more attentive parent. When your little one is up against you, you are acutely aware of her needs, whether it be a diaper change, a feeding, a nap, or a temperature adjustment. When a baby’s needs are met quickly, she is learning that her parents are reliable and trustworthy and care for her. This establishes a strong foundation for her emotional and social development.
Baby Wearing for the Win
Babies, by nature, are dependent. Baby wearing is a great and easy way to meet your child’s physical and emotional needs. Not only is it a great tool for parents, but for grandparents and other caregivers as well.
The benefits of baby wearing are great! It’s a simple, yet effective way to connect to your baby and can make the first few months of parenting even more enjoyable.
There are so many different types of baby carriers, from wraps to soft carriers to slings, so research options and find one that works for you! If you’d like to read more about the styles and brands we like, check out our page of recommended baby products.