The Art (and Science) of Babywearing

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Babywearing Basics

There is nothing in the world that compares to finally having your newborn baby sleeping on your chest, that sweet-smelling, squishy-cheeked baby right under your nose. I hold those early moments of motherhood so dear to my heart …but then realty sets in. My baby still wanted to be close to me every second, she was still dependant on me for food and comfort but I had other tasks that were demanding my attention. I had errands that needed to be done, phone calls that I needed to make, a dog that needed a walk and believe it or not I wanted to go out and talk to other adults. The marathon of Gilmore Girls was no longer satisfying, I needed actual human contact! This is when I discovered the absolute joys of babywearing. My daughter spent the majority of her first 6 months of life in a baby carrier, she was happy there, I had two free hands and I could kiss her forward about a thousand and one times a day!

Benefits for Baby

It is natural for babies to want to be close to Mama and babywearing is a great practice for keeping your baby happy and to help build a bond between baby and caregivers. The motion of the carrier is often soothing for a baby as they feel lots of movement within the womb so carrying baby through the postpartum period can result in what I believe is the number one benefit for babywearing:  babies tend to cry less when they are snuggled close to their loved ones! Not only is this beneficial for parents as we don’t enjoy hearing our littles ones cry but this plays a huge role in learning and development. Babies who cry less tend to stay in a quiet alert state and are better at grasping the world around them. They have more time to absorb there environment including language and emotions.

Baby wearing can stimulate the infant’s vestibular system and this stimulation “helps babies breathe and grow better, regulates their physiology and improves motor development” (Sears and Sears 2001).  Babywearing can also meet the physical needs of your infant, wearing your newborn can help with recognition of early feeding cues so we may be able to feed our babies before they start crying which is a late sign of hunger. The upright position and movement of babywearing will naturally help with the digestive process in your baby which is especially useful if you have a baby who is suffering from gas or reflux.

Benefits for Parents

The immediate benefit of babywearing for parents is the ability to have two hands free, this gives you a chance to do errands, make phone calls, take care of your other children or google “why won’t my baby sleep?” Having your baby close is also handy when they start to fuss or they are in need of reassurance, a simple back rub or forehead kiss can help immediately sooth your baby. As well as the ability to breastfeed or bottlefeed in a carrier can be life changing for a Mama of multiple children.

Having your baby up is also convenient for large crowds, small spaces or difficult terrain. Logistically, living in Vancouver we don’t all have tons of extra space to store strollers so a baby wrap, sling or carrier can be folded up and put in the diaper bag or stored in a drawer. Overall parents who babywear tend to feel more confidence in their abilities and the more confidence a parents has the more opportunity they have to enjoy parenthood.

Types of Carriers

There are many different types of carriers out there and I always recommend trying them out before you buy. There are structured types of carries (SSC’s), think buckles and straps, these can seem less intimidating because they are the most commonly seen. Most have thick padded straps and waistbands and can be used for front and back carries. Ring Slings are gaining in popularity these days, they consists of a metal ring securely attached to the end of a long piece of fabric, it is used to wrap around parent and baby.
My absolute favourite type of carrier, especially for the newborn stage is a baby wrap. Wraps are the most traditional type of carrier and come in a variety of lengths and fabrics. Here in Vancouver we have an awesome local Mama making the most amazing wraps. I highly recommend trying out a Beluga Baby wrap (www.belugababy.ca) , they are stylish and comfortable and they are made of bamboo giving them this amazing softness and stretch. A wrap is a great way to start out babywearing, especially in the newborn stage. These Beluga Baby wraps bring that baby close to your chest for a snuggly and flexible fit that can change along with your baby!

Safety First

As a Registered Nurse I just want to touch on the safety of babywearing. It is important to make sure that your baby is visible at all times, your baby should never be hidden by the wrap. The carrier should be tight and secure with your little one close enough to kiss. They should have their backs supported with their chin away from their chests.

Sleep and Babywearing

I whole heartedly believe you can’t spoil a newborn baby by carrying them too much. You can enjoy the snuggly closeness of a carrier and create good sleep habits. A baby carrier can be a great way to ensure your baby gets adequate daytime sleep on the go and allows you the freedom to get out of the house. All of our sleep programs have flexibility and we don’t believe you have to put yourself in “nap jail” every day. Get outside, carry that baby and enjoy the company of others or at least some fresh air.

Beautiful Images Provided by Beluga baby

About the Author
Amanda Archibald

Amanda Archibald

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My name is Amanda and I am so excited to be the Mama Coach to Vancouver. I am a mom to one beautiful little girl, a Perinatal Registered Nurse, a lactation counselor and an infant sleep coach. I can’t wait to help you reach your goals as a family.

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