Baby wearing benefits

Last revised on September 18, 2018

Author: Heidi Holvoet, PhD

Less crying, more sleep, reduced colic and reflux are just a few of many baby wearing benefits.

When choosing your sling, you'll find a huge amount of choice. There are many good ones out there and you'll find one that suits you best. When making your choice though, as a rule of thumb, get the best you can afford as it will ensure the maximum of the benefits discussed below, effectively, safely and comfortably.

Let's have a look at benefits by age for your baby and advantages for yourself too!

Newborn

Your newborn feels safe and secure when safely wrapped and hugged close to you in a soft stretchy fabric. This makes a good wrap sling THE best place to be, after the womb, for a newborn baby:

Baby wearing newborn Photo courtesy by Hug a Bub Australia

  • If your wrap cloth is made of a suitable breathing fabric, baby is kept warm without overheating, thanks to your own body heat combined with the fabric.
  • Baby is kept in a flexible swaddle, her head resting near the familiar sounds of mom's heartbeat and voice (through her chest cavity), or dad's soothing reassuring breathing and heartbeat.

    Notice how high up the baby in the picture is? That is the place to be, and it's one of the aspects to look out for when choosing your carrier.
  • Baby feels contained thanks to being wrapped closely (but not too tightly). This is an often overlooked need for feeling safe and secure.

    When uncontained a newborn baby has many "startle reflexes": a response that feels like falling. This reflex occurs when baby does not feel the familiar, reassuring boundaries she was used to.

Less stress hormones are released when baby feels safe and secure in this way. Less stress means less stress-related problems like colic, acid reflux and excessive crying.

Relaxed and content babies also sleep better than their unhappy, stressed peers.

Young baby, bigger baby and toddler

Baby carrying 6 month old

A growing up baby or toddler still needs the safety and security as when just born.

Happy and relaxed, baby sleeps better, suffers less from colic, reflux, crying and is less prone to teething pain and other typical baby comforts.

  • Continued close bonding with mom and dad becomes even more important.

    Being able to explore the world, to be a real part of it, to meet people and things, ... while safely carried close to mom or dad is THE confident path towards independence.
  • One of many practical advantages: carried correctly in a good wrap sling, you can safely have baby nap for a prolonged time in the sling - excellent for nap assisting when setting up the right daytime sleep schedule. No risk of mal-development for the spine.

    Most carriers don't offer the comfort and safety to be able to do this so please be careful and choose a good quality one.

You!

For yourself, wearing a happy and relaxed baby means:

Hug a Bub And You

  • You feel happy, relaxed and more confident about caring for your baby.
  • You can keep an active social and work life. A good wrap technique (of a good sling) makes it comfortable (no-strain no-pain) and safe for you to carry baby for a longer time (as long as you want or baby needs).
  • High oxytocin and prolactin hormone levels thanks to the close contact with baby increase feelings of love, connection, help improve breastfeeding and, not in the least: physically help you sleep well too.
  • Reduced symptoms of baby blues. Research supports that close contact with her baby reduces the risk of post-natal depression in a mother.

Newborn or bigger baby, carrying your baby close has a positive influence on baby and yourself. Regularly carried babies are most content overall, have improved bonding with parents, and are shown to grow up to be independent and confident children.[1]

The risk of spoiling by carrying too much is none to worry about. As long as you do it consciously and offer plenty of crib and play mat opportunities as baby grows, you are fine.

Happy baby wearing!

Resources

[1] Infant-Mother Attachment: The Origins and Developmental Significance of Individual Differences in Strange Situation Behavior. Sarah Mosko, James Mckenna, Lynn Hunt 2004 Lamb, M. E., Thompson, W., Gardner & Charnov, E. L. (1985). Hillside, N.J.: Lawrence Erlbaum.