10+ Amazing Benefits of Babywearing
Updated: Apr 25
When you become a mom, your whole world changes. Your maternal instinct kicks in and you want to keep your baby as close as possible all the time. This is normal as humans are carrying animals (just like monkeys). For the first few weeks, this is still doable as your partner might still be at home to do something in and around the house for you. But when they go back to work, you suddenly notice that you are about 2 hands short. Wearing your baby in a wrap or carrier might be the solution. Besides having your hands free while keeping your baby close, there are other benefits of wearing your baby.
You get to know your baby better
When you have your baby close to you all the time, you learn to recognize small signs your baby makes. Research has shown that babywearing moms are more likely to interact contingently in response to their baby's cues meaning these moms will respond sooner when a baby requires some attention from their caregiver.
Bonding with your child
This research shows that new moms who dislike wearing their babies experienced postpartum bonding difficulties. The same study also shows that moms who wore their babies frequently experienced more bonding and calming benefits. This research confirms that mothers who wore their baby often in a soft baby carrier responded faster to vocalizations for their child. They conclude that there may be a causal relationship between increased physical contact, achieved through early carrying in a soft baby carrier, and subsequent security of attachment between infant and mother.
Newborns who are worn for at least 3 hours each day will cry less. That is the conclusion of this research. They will not only cry less during the day, but they will also be less fussy during the night giving both parents a more decent night of sleep.
Reduces reflux symptoms
Wearing your baby in a carrier or wrap has the benefit of reducing reflux symptoms. This research has shown that although there was no significant difference in the total refluxes per hour between the upright and lying positions, reflux-related respiratory symptoms per reflux were significantly fewer in infants kept in an upright position than in a lying position increasing the comfort of the child.
Skin to skin contact
Lots of skin-to-skin contacts is important, not only right after birth but during the entire baby period. When a mother has skin-to-skin contact with her baby right after birth, it initiates strong instinctive behaviors in both mom and baby. The mom will experience a surge of hormones and begin to smell, stroke, and engage with her baby naturally. Babies’ instincts after birth will drive them to follow a very unique process, which if left uninterrupted will result in them having their first breastfeeding. If they are enabled to familiarise themselves with their mom's breast and achieve self-attachment, it is more likely that they will recall this in subsequent feeds, resulting in fewer breastfeeding problems down the line.
On average, moms who have lots of skin-to-skin contact with their baby breastfeed longer compared to moms who don’t
A baby who receives lots of skin-to-skin contact either through babywearing or otherwise constantly hears the soothing sound of mom's heartbeat and breathing. This has a calming effect on your baby as these are the sounds and movements the baby also experiences in the womb. This research shows that the touch and motion while carrying your child have a calming effect on your baby.
Babywearing not only benefits your baby there are lots of benefits for the parents as well. When there is lots of skin-to-skin contact, we produce a hormone called oxytocin. This is a natural response and helps us bond to our baby. Not only that it helps us be more calm and relaxed as well as a new parent.
Development of the Vestibular system
Babywearing stimulates the vestibular system and as such the development that is related to this system. The vestibular system starts to develop in the womb and is responsible for balance in the human body and good development is important for lots of functions in our body like
Coordinating eye and head movements (like following a moving object through the air (ball/plane)).
Helps to develop and maintain normal muscle tone (to be able to hold the body in one position).
Improve a child’s balance (otherwise we would remain clumsy and fall often).
Coordinate both sides of their body simultaneously.
Throughout baby and toddlerhood, movements like being rocked, gently swung, rolling, crawling, walking, and running all provide input for a healthy vestibular system.
In the book: ‘The Attachment Parenting Book” Bill and Martha Sears also state that babywearing stimulates the infant’s vestibular system: “the stimulation helps babies breathe and grow better, and improves motor development” )Sears & Sears (2001) The Attachment Parenting Book: A Commonsense Guide to Understanding and Nurturing Your Baby).
Neck muscles development
Babywearing allows a baby to exercise their neck muscles much more compared to lying down in a crib or stroller. When lifting the head, the baby is not only training the neck and back muscles, but also the interaction between the eyes, the nerve system, the vestibular system, and various groups of muscles. (Regeling, M. (2015) Sensorische informatieverwerking; het vestibulaire systeem)
Carrying babies in your arms or in baby carriers may also be beneficial to neck muscle development, while prolonged time spent in car seats or containment devices may be detrimental to spinal development.
By wearing your baby you have more interactions with your child. You speak to them more often which is a practical way to encourage more engaging, language-enriched developmental opportunities in the critical first year of your baby.
It is even mentioned that lots of skin contact could help with the development of your baby's brain, especially in babies who have been born prematurely.
Better for your body
When you compared babywearing to carrying your baby in your arms, the latter is about 16% heavier compared to using a carrier. Parenting, a newborn is hard enough already, using a carrier or a wrap could lighten the load a little.
The last benefit of babywearing I want to mention is freedom. Everywhere I go, I can also go with my baby worn in a wrap. When my girl was a year old, we went on holiday to Slovenia for a couple of weeks. We didn’t bring a bulky stroller but opted to bring a few wraps. This resulted in a holiday that was not that different from the ones we had before we had kids. We hiked up mountains and through forests and visited lovely villages and busy cities. All this was easy as our little girl was on my or my partner's back and we weren’t fiddling with a stroller.
A lot of tutorials can be found on how to safely wear your baby in a wrap but if you are unsure whether or not you can do this safely, please book a consult with a babywearing specialist so you are sure you and your baby can benefit the most out of babywearing.