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Why Is It So Important to “Wear” Your Baby?

It may seem that this is a new trend among some health professionals–urging parents to wear their baby.  In reality, this has been around thousands of years.  In fact, it dates back to biblical times.  It transcends cultures.  If you think about it, this is what we did prior to all the gizmos and gadgets that we have now.  People walked around carrying their children from infancy to toddler ages in beautiful fabric wraps like the one pictured here.

We used to be a much more active or mobile civilization until the industrial revolution and cars came about… and then we hit the digital age.  The amount of time we spend sitting or in front of an electronic screen is more than most people even realize.  The sitting and lack of movement affects our bodies, namely our spine and our circulation.  Read any alternative health blog today and you will see writing on the drawbacks of long hours of sitting.

Well, as one might expect, these things affect babies too.

Core Strength

Wearing your baby in a wrap or sling helps baby to develop good core strength.  The neck and abdominal and back muscles are strengthened as baby is worn and has to work against gravity.  This is good for a baby!  He will need core strength to begin sitting up on his own and crawling.

Neck Positioning

Just like core strengthening, wearing your baby allows him to keep his head properly positioned above the shoulders.  Baby “furniture” like the Rock and PlayTM, swings, etc. keep your baby in a flexed position which encourages his neck to tuck as the head is flexed.  This is not helpful for breastfeeding.  When a baby is breastfeeding he needs to be able to extend his head back and drop the jaw wide open for a deep latch.  Wearing your baby keeps him well positioned allowing him to turn his head in many different directions, as well as flex and extend their neck.

(As an aside, we encourage you to read up on the dangers of all baby “furniture” and be informed.  Here is one article which discusses the dangers of babies sleeping in the Rock and PlayTM.)

Bonding

We love wearing your baby because it fosters deeper bonding with your baby.  You can even wear them skin to skin (yes, literally, just a diaper and you unclothed! :)) and be covered for privacy at home!  Having them heart to heart many hours a day will increase the amount of time you look at your baby, give him a kiss, feel his heartbeat against yours, and synchronize your breathing.

Getting Things Done

Let’s face it, having a baby requires a lot of time and attention.  When your baby just wants to be held, if feels like you can’t get anything done.  Wearing your baby gives you hands free!!!  HANDS FREE!  Wear your baby while you wash the dishes, fold the laundry, vaccume… there are so many possibilities!  In fact, you can even breastfeed your little one while you are carrying them in the wrap or sling.  Did you know that?!  Yep!  Check out one of many online videos on nursing in a carrier like this one.

Development

These days babies spend a lot of time on their backs–sleeping, in the car seat while driving, and anytime hanging out at home in baby “furniture”.  The more time that babies spend on their backs with their head resting on something the more they are at risk of developing a flatness to the head either on one side or the full back side of it.  This is not good for brain development.  We want babies to have a nice roundness to the back of their head which makes room for his growing brain.

You may also hear people talk about “tummy time”–this is important for many of the same reasons.  Gravity and laying on a hard surface helps baby to develop the core strength they need, strengthen neck, and fosters normal development of the head.

So what’s the bottom line?…  Both wearing your baby and tummy time counterbalance the time they spend on their backs.  Wear your baby in a soft wrap or sling as much as possible!  You will find you love it!

 

For more information check out this short video on breathing.  For a longer explanation on our physiology and how we are supposed to breathe check out Roger L Price.  You may also be interested in our post on why baby wearing is so important.