For most of human history, our babies have been swaddled, slung, carried, hugged, and otherwise attached to our bodies for a significant portion of their early development. Nowadays it seems that our hectic lifestyles often have no time for it and the pushchair culture has taken over. We readily pop our babies in car seats, bouncy chairs, swings, cribs and pushchairs when they are not on their play mat. Our homes are littered with baby equipment, much of which could be unnecessary if we got back into the habit of baby wearing.
Back in the day I loved baby wearing. Then I had a rust cord carrier by Snugli which was truly amazing. I went everywhere using this, and found with two older children to fetch and carry it was so much easier than using a pram. I so loved that carrier that it was carefully packed away and now I have even taken our new grandson out for a walk wearing it. We had an early morning stroll around Waterloo and counted red buses before buying pastries for breakfast. It is so lovely when you have a baby in a sling, they are part of all that you do and other people are also eager to engage with them.
The benefits of baby wearing are massive. Our babies are born helpless but full of potential, we need to provide all the support and reassurance they need in order to develop into independent, intelligent, thinking, learning, growing children. Baby wearing is a brilliant way to help them towards independence.
Baby-wearing increases the mother’s ability to breastfeed, just like co-sleeping increases it, simply because of proximity. When you’ve got a hungry little one within striking distance of the elixir at all times, it’s hard not to do it more often. We all know how important breast milk is to a baby. Baby-wearing streamlines the logistics of breastfeeding. It can even allow the mother to nurse hands-free. Skin to skin contact promotes setting up breast feeding in those early days but even if it doesn’t get going for you, having your baby attached to you, rather than laid out on a mat somewhere, allows you to bottle feed and still reap the benefits of being physically close to your child. Whilst the composition of the breast milk is a huge benefit to the baby the close human contact is also so important.
Wearing your baby as you go about your day, interacting with people, and doing daily tasks introduces your baby to the world in a safe way. You’re not keeping them tucked away in a pram with controlled moments of engagement with the world, but you are letting them see the world through your eyes each and every day. They will have more exposure to communicating adults and will be well placed to learn to communicate both through talk and facial expressions quickly.
Baby wearing promotes improved development of the vestibular system, the brain system that detects motion and controls balance. When a baby is worn or carried on the body, rather than lying in a push chair staring at the sky, the inside of the carry cot or a baby iPhone, the baby is privy to the constant motion of an ambulating adult. The worn baby is moving as you move and this helps them develop their balance, motor skills, and general movement ability.
I am delighted that Salisbury parents have now decided to run a sling library and am happy to have been involved in setting it up.