For many of you, I don’t need to explain. You already know the joys of baby wearing and you wouldn’t have it any other way. Others of you may be wondering what is the big deal about baby wearing. Maybe you think it looks too hot, too heavy, and too inconvenient. Why not just use a stroller?
I hear you. I had the exact same questions. But when my son arrived, it was like something very instinctual kicked in. I just knew I needed to wear him. I bought a ring sling, a wrap, and a structured carrier and began the amazing journey of baby wearing. I’ve learned a lot in the short six months that I have worn my baby. Even though I started baby wearing just because it felt right, I now have dozens upon dozens of reasons for why I continue. I’m assuming you’re a busy parent like me and you probably don’t have time to listen to me name them all. So, for the sake of your time and mine, I’ll just share with you the top five reasons why I wear my baby:
#5: My baby feels secure
My son was what you might call a “clingy” baby. He has gotten better with age, but as a newborn he wanted to be held virtually every moment of the day. That left me with the awful dilemma of either carrying him all day long (and, thus, getting no time for myself) or having to hear him belt out the most heartbreaking cries. The first time I decided to wear him, everything changed. I saw him visibly relax. He stopped crying. He seemed to finally be at peace. I learned that babies – especially brand new ones – often feel overstimulated. The world seems so big and too difficult to process. When a baby is placed into a baby carrier, close enough to your skin to hear your heartbeat, the world seems small and predictable again. For my son, it was as though he was finally right where he believed he should be. To this day he still seems to feel the most safe and secure when I am wearing him.
#4: My baby cries less
I am thankful that my son is generally a happy baby. He certainly has his moods, though. When he gets into one of those moods where all he can do is cry inconsolably, baby wearing is often the only thing that can calm him down. Research suggests that persistent, long-term crying can interfere with a baby’s development because it floods the brain with stress hormones. It can also interfere with mom and dad because, well, it’s awful to listen to! Wearing my baby instantly calms those tears and puts us both in a healthier place. Studies have shown that baby wearing isn’t just useful for ending a crying episode. It can also help prevent your baby from crying in the first place. In fact, in cultures where babies are worn the majority of the day, their total crying time is only a few minutes a day. In contrast, babies who are born in cultures where baby wearing is less prevalent tend to cry for several hours a day. I don’t know about you, but I would much rather hear a few minutes of crying than a few hours.
#3: It helps us bond
Now that my son can hold his own head up, one of his favorite things to do is hang out in his baby carrier and stare up into my eyes. I love how ordinary activities like grocery shopping or unloading the dishwasher become magical when I look down and see my darling son gazing up at me. I sing to him. I tilt my chin downward and kiss him on the forehead. He suddenly giggles at me, and even though I don’t know what I did that was so funny, I laugh along with him. As he laughs, I can feel his little ribcage jiggling with each breath he draws. Sometimes he twirls a strand of my hair in his fingers and I can feel the gentle tug against my scalp. Even though I am doing a million other activities while I’m wearing him (like most moms, I’m quite busy), I still have these amazing moments of intimacy with my baby. I would miss out on those if he was in his bouncer while I worked.
#2: I can actually get things done
I am a work from home mom. Translation: I have two full time jobs and it usually feels like I’m doing both of them poorly. I hate feeling like I have to choose between taking care of my responsibilities and being with my child. My son is my absolute highest priority, and yet, I want to pursue the career that I am so very passionate about. Baby wearing makes me feel like I don’t have to choose between my baby and my business. Whether I am answering emails, organizing my planner for the week, or even something domestic like vacuuming my living room, I can still be with my son. He never misses out on time with me, and I never miss a deadline. It’s perfect.
#1: Everything is a teachable moment.
I have a teacher’s heart. I love imparting knowledge to my son. Although I try to take as many opportunities as possible to teach things to him, sometimes I feel like I’m just not doing enough. The world is a big place, after all, and he has so much to learn. When I wear him, I find myself very naturally teaching him things that I wouldn’t have the opportunity to teach him if he was in a bouncer, stroller, or swing. When I start a load of laundry, I narrate everything I’m doing. “First, I have to put the dirty clothes in the machine. Now I’m turning on the water to get them wet.” I lean over and pull out a pair of wet jeans and let him touch them. “See, now they are wet.” When we go grocery shopping, he is close enough to me to see everything I pick up. “This is an apple. We need three apples to make juice. One, two, three.” My son is able to learn vocabulary, grammar, syntax, and intonation. He imbibes language and makes associations between words and objects. My son gets the benefit of learning about his world, and I get the joy of being the one to teach him. It just doesn’t get better than that.