What does it mean to “wear” your baby?

Babywearing has been practiced for centuries all over the world, and is still practiced today regularly, in many countries.

The term babywearing means to actually “wear” your baby by carrying him/her in a sling or another babywearing tool, instead of placing your baby in a crib, swing or other contraption.  Babywearing keeps your baby close and connected to you.  Babies who are worn tend to feel a lot safer and tend to cry less.  As a new mother or father, Babywearing can free up your hands, enabling you to partake in many of your daily activities that were challenging while holding your baby.

As a new parent, you are probably faced with decisions about which “baby gear” are “must haves.”

There are many apparatuses on the market today for babies, and as a new parent, the decision about which “baby gear” to purchase can be overwhelming. You may be inundated with all of the choices available: baby swings, bouncy seats, rockers, activity gyms and play mats, jumpers, rock and play, pack and play, tummy time mats, piano gyms, rocking swings, and many others. You are probably wondering which, if any, of these items are absolutely necessary for you to have, now that you have a newborn baby.

Studies have shown that these contraptions tend to push your newborn away from you, as opposed to keeping your baby close. Your newborn has been with you for nine months. He/she knows your every move, your heartbeat, your breathing, and your voice. Your baby wants to be with you, not away from you in an unfamiliar object, no matter how bright and colorful it is. Your newborn wants to feel your warmth and have familiar mom close by. Babywearing is a way to hold your newborn close to you while freeing you up a bit as well.

There are many devices on the market today that can help you practice “baby wearing” and most are rela­tively inexpensive.  Mothers used to wrap their infants in shawls, or any type of sling, so that they could complete their household chores and care for other children. This practice enables you to hold your newborn close while getting things done around the house or while outdoors. Infants love feeling the rocking and movement of your everyday life.

You can also create your own device, as long as you are sure it is safe, it doesn’t obstruct breathing, and the baby can’t fall out. Some slings are quite decorative and have a variety of styles, colors, and patterns. There are front carriers, back carriers, wrap carriers, and sling carriers. Brands include Baby Bjorn, Momwrap, Mobywrap, Ergobaby, the Peanut shell, Balboa baby, Karma baby—the list goes on.

Benefits of Babywearing:

  1. -Babies tend to be happier close to you, feeling your warmth, scent, and beating heart.
  2. -Helps to soothe a colicky baby who needs to be snuggled more.
  3. -The love hormone “oxytocin” is released by holding baby close, which helps you and your newborn to bond.
  4. -Babies like feeling motion; your movement as you go about your activities is soothing for your baby.
  5. -Enables you to be hands free so you can perform household duties.
  6. -Baby stays upright, which can prevent reflux, as well as preventing Plagiocephaly
  7.  (flat head syndrome).
  8. -Can be easier to walk through store isles as opposed to navigating through with a stroller.

Some precautions to consider while wearing your baby:

  1.  Make sure your apparatus is not too tight or too loose.
  2. You should be able to see baby.
  3. Make sure baby doesn’t get too hot, keep out of direct sun.
  4. Stay hydrated; both you and baby.
  5. Make sure baby’s back is supported.
  6. Make sure mouth and nose are free and not blocked
  7. Walk carefully, and be aware of your environment so you don’t trip or fall

Remember; you cant “spoil” your baby by holding him/her or carrying him/her. Babies want to be close to their mothers.  By keeping your newborn close you will both will be happy, comfortable, and secure.

Cheryl Zauderer has been a registered nurse since 1985. She is a nurse-midwife, a lactation consultant and a psychiatric nurse practitioner specializing in perinatal mood disorders and other women’s health issues.
Cheryl has authored her first book entitled Maternity Leave: A New Mothers Guide to the First Six Weeks Postpartum, Praeclarus Press. It is a self-help book for new mothers focusing on the first six weeks postpartum. You can follow her with her blog and on her website at: postpartumcare1.com, on twitter, and on facebook.
 Cheryl has also served as a board member for PSI (Postpartum Support International) and has been the Nassau/Suffolk coordinator for PSI since 2009.