by Caprice Corona
“Babywearing” – the act of carrying your baby in a baby carrier – has exploded in popularity and visibility in the western world over the past couple of decades. And while most indigenous cultures have recognized and enjoyed the benefits of using a baby carrier for generations upon generations, the industrialized world has been, well, a little late to the party. But we’ve finally caught up, and we’ve done so with gusto!
Why the increased interest in babywearing? Let’s take a look at three of the main reasons babywearing can be good for you and your baby:
1. It’s just practical.
If you’re expecting your first baby now, congratulations! Be sure to savor every moment of eating your meals two-handed, because those days are coming to an end! (And if you’re the parent of a newborn or infant, you know exactly what I’m talking about.) Truly, many of the things I took for granted before becoming a mom – eating with two hands, using a computer with both hands, visiting friends in their fifth floor walk up, hustling up and down subway stairs, etc. etc.…well, let’s just say they become a little more interesting when you’re trying to steady a wiggly bundle of baby in one arm. But once you can figure out how to get baby comfy in a baby carrier? Your hands can be freeeeeeeee!!!
2. It feels good.
Having your baby close, wearing him in a carrier skin to skin, is an otherwordly experience. Studies have shown that oxytocin levels increase for baby and caregiver when baby is held close either in arms or in a carrier. Oxytocin is an incredibly important hormone that helps to increase a mother’s milk production and decrease the likelihood and severity of postpartum depression. It is also has benefits for baby such as increased contentment, increased sense of trust, and a sense of security.
3. It can save you money.
Rather than blowing hundreds of dollars on the perfect stroller system(s), a bouncy chair, and/or a jumper, you can transport and/or entertain your baby in a baby carrier. If you don’t want to buy a brand new carrier, register for one on your baby registry and ask your friends and family to buy you one! Or have a look at craigslist or your local parent listserve to find a gently used carrier that you can try (N.B. always be sure to check second-hand baby carriers for wear and tear, and confirm that the carrier and model have been tested to the current CPSIA standard). Or find out if there is a babywearing group or Babywearing International chapter near you so that you can attend a meeting and try out a carrier. Added bonus!! Most baby carriers are safety tested up to 35+ lbs, so if you invest in a good quality baby carrier, it could be useful for 3-4 year (or more, if you decide to have another baby!).
And that’s just the tip of the iceberg! Babywearing is good for so many things, particularly for NYC caregivers who are often stuck at the bottom of a subway staircase, hoping for a good Samaritan who will help carry their stroller system upstairs. It’s fantastic for caregivers of more than one child, since it can help keep the carried (or “worn”) baby calm and happy while another child is being tended to. Babywearing is a means of empowerment for new parents (and parents of older, bigger kids) that allows us to more easily care for our children. It helps improve breastfeeding outcomes, and makes elimination communication easier to maneuver.
And now that you know that, well, all that’s left is to find the right carrier for you and your baby. Will it be a wrap? A ring sling? A pouch? A mei tai? How about a front pack carrier, or a buckle carrier? Well, the good news is that you have options, and now that babywearing has become more present in the Western parenting consciousness, I can promise you that you will find something that can work for you and your baby. Have fun!