Clothes, check. Socks, check. Shoes, check. Baby, check? That’s right, you can “wear” your baby in a sling, wrap, or carrier, and child-development experts say it’s good for babies, parents, and caregivers alike.
Whether you’re thinking about wearing your baby or you’re ready to dive into the sea of baby carrier options, read on to find out about baby-wearing benefits and safety tips.
The Benefits of Baby-Wearing
The American Academy of Pediatrics and other child development experts agree that wearing your baby has several benefits, including these:
It promotes attachment. A warm, secure bond between you and your baby is central to optimal development. Physical contact with primary caregivers nurtures that bond, and baby-wearing is a great way to up the snuggle time with your little one. It may be especially helpful if you’re a mom having trouble bonding with your baby, perhaps due to postpartum depression.
It comforts your baby. Especially during the first months of life, baby-wearing soothes your little one because she can hear your heartbeat and feel the rhythm of your breathing and movements—sensations she knows intimately from her time in the womb. Research shows that during the first three months of life, increased time being carried is correlated with less time crying.
It allows you to multi-task. Holding your baby is great, but you’ve got other things to do too! Baby-wearing allows you to hold your little one and still have two hands free for other tasks.
It supports learning. Because infants tend to cry less while being carried, they can spend that time in a “happy and alert” state. Babies learn when they are happy and alert, because they are calm and free to take in information from their surroundings.
It stimulates sensory development. Baby-wearing activates the vestibular system, which is our sense of balance and movement. Your baby’s vestibular system is continuously activated during baby-wearing, as your body rocks and angles her in different ways.
Convenience. Sometimes strollers are a hassle. Baby-wearing while shopping or walking in the park means no lugging, fiddling with, or maneuvering strollers.
What About Tummy Time?
Even for the most zealous baby-wearers, it’s important to give babies playtime on their belly. In this article you can find out why tummy time is essential, and how long your little one should be belly-down during playtime.
If You Wear Your Baby, Will She Become Spoiled?
Experts agree that lots of holding (especially during the first three months) won’t spoil a baby. As babies gain movement skills, they typically become increasingly interested in being out-of-arms so they can explore and play.
While wearing your baby, it’s important to ensure that she’s safe. Below are the basics of baby-wearing safety.
Keep Baby’s Airway Clear
Be sure your baby is upright in the carrier, her chin is not pressed against her neck, and her head is high enough that you can monitor her breathing.
Position Baby Properly
If your baby can’t control her head yet, use a carrier that keeps her facing you with her neck supported. Be sure her back and legs are also supported, and that her legs can naturally spread to the sides.
Buy a carrier from a reputable company with products that meet current safety standards.
Keep an Eye on Wear & Tear
Regularly inspect your carrier for tears, fabric that’s worn thin, fasteners that seem loose, and anything else that may compromise your baby’s safety.
Follow Use Instructions
Be sure to read all use instructions before putting your baby in a carrier. Most baby carrier companies provide instructional videos that teach you how to safely use their products.
If your baby was born premature, with a low birth weight, or any other medical issue, ask your pediatrician if baby-wearing is appropriate for her.
You can find more in-depth information about different types of carriers and how to use them safely here.