Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Benefits of Babywearing

by Carla Shirer, MA – Pump Station Customer Service Representative

Throughout the ages, parents have worn their babies by adapting simple pieces of cloth, animal skins, woven baskets, and swaddle boards. Thirty years ago, Dr. William Sears coined the term “Attachment Parenting”, an intuitive style of baby care, that encourages wearing the baby. Today, families have rediscovered the sustaining secret of babywearing and its enormous benefits.

Fact: “...Babies do NOT lie quietly in their cribs. Babies must be picked up, calmed, played with, fed and put to sleep!...” Dr. William Sears
A helpless newborn requires constant close contact because he is unable to provide for himself. A baby worn in a sling or wrap, experiences a nurturing transition from the womb to the outside world. The parent can easily pat, stroke, caress, rock, and communicate love to the baby creating a stronger bond. This tactile (touching) experience gives the infant a head start by initiating changes in the brain, growth, production of disease fighting cells, physiological organization of the cardiorespiratory system and body control systems.

A baby that is worn three hours a day cries less and learns more. The baby is awake but contented and is able to learn from his surroundings in a calm, aware manner. This state is known as “QUIET ALERTNESS”. The baby experiences less stress, which decreases the production of cortisol (stress hormone). The baby sees what the parent sees, hears the parent's heartbeat, breathing, and voice. He feels the parent’s movements and quickly learns to recognize the difference between father and mother. There is a symbiotic experience as the mother becomes more confident and intuitively knows her baby's cues. As a parent responds to a baby’s needs, the baby learns trust, knowing that his needs will be met and his language understood. This results in a successful “Whole Parent-Child Communication Network.”

To a baby touch equals love. Touch is necessary for human development. Mild forms of sensory deprivation can come from the constant use of the car seat, bouncy chair, and stroller.
“...The easiest and quickest way to induce depression and alienation an infant or a child is not to touch it, hold it, or carry it on your body…” James W. Prescott, PhD
Korean infants spend more than 90 percent of their time being held. Anthropologist Meredith Smith, states in her book, Our Babies, Ourselves (Anchor Books, 1998), that American babies spend two-thirds of their time alone — in car seats (pearl), strollers, infant seats, cribs, playpens or swings.

Babywearing is such a simple solution to many problems that occur in an everyday routine.

Here is a list of benefits of babywearing:
  • Mother has hands free while offering security to the baby

  • Mother can breastfeed discreetly

  • Increases the production of prolactin, which increases milk supply

  • Reduces back pain that occurs carrying a car seat

  • Slings facilitate mother-baby eye contact

  • Mother becomes finely attuned to baby’s cues

  • A sling is a protective barrier from a stranger’s unwanted touch

  • Babywearing is fun

  • Father and baby have a stronger bond

  • Baby sleeps better

  • Baby cries less

  • Baby learns more

  • Baby is sick less

  • Reduces colic and reflux because of the upright position

  • Baby is less anxious

  • Baby thrives

  • Baby is happy, contented and well behaved

  • Babywearing decreases flat head syndrome

  • Baby wearing is an easy transition from the womb

  • Lowers risk of SIDS

The Pump Station and Nurtury™ offers a free sling clinic every week to teach new parents the art of babywearing. For more information, visit the following links:

Free Sling ClinicIn this hour-long clinic, we demonstrate a variety of slings and carriers including 'The Maya Wrap', 'The New Native', 'The Baby Pouch', ‘The Moby Wrap’, and the 'The Ergo Carrier'. Our experienced Sling Clinic instructors will work with you one-on-one to find the right position for you and your baby.