Why You Should Wear Your Baby Using Baby Slings
What is Baby Wearing? It’s the practice of keeping and having your baby close to you as you go through your daily activities. This is accomplished by the use a baby carrier. You may have seen parents wearing or carrying a baby in a sling or a carrier. Babywearing is a process that has been in practice for centuries around the world. However, in the industrialized world, it has gained popularity only in recent decades. Baby carrying has many benefits for both mom and baby.
Though baby wearing is from the olden days, it’s not really about any specific philosophy in parenting and it is neither about any particular carrier. Babywearing may be practiced by all kinds of caregivers – moms or dads, siblings, grandparents, nurses, nannies. You can find a wide range of baby carrier options in the market that are safe and effective, suits every taste and budget. Let’s try to talk you into why you should try wearing your baby!
Benefits of baby wearing
One of the advantages of baby wearing is that it promotes bonding, supports breastfeeding, is known to help combat postpartum depression, makes care giving easier, and it could be a lifesaver for parents of high-needs children. It is also observed that carried babies sleep, feed, and grow better. One study has also found that 6-week-olds that were carried cried 43% less than other children!
- Promotes baby's development - A baby in a carrier would be close to the mother and close with the sound of her heartbeat, the rhythm of her breathing and also the movements the mother makes – be it walking, reaching or bending. This kind of stimulation would help the babies to regulate their own physical responses, and exercise their vestibular system that controls the balance. A sling is somewhat similar to a transitional womb, at least for the new babies, who haven't learned yet to control their movements and bodies' functions. Research indicates that premature babies who are held or touched often are healthier and tend to gain weight faster. On the other hand, some holding devices in the market and mechanical swings do not provide these same benefits.
- Convenient - You can freely walk around and wouldn’t have to worry about overcoming the crowds, steps, or even narrow aisles. The other options like plastic "baby buckets" or removable car seats are awkward for parents and a little heavier. You may even notice that babies often look uncomfortable in them as they are kept at your knee level. A sling also blocks out excess stimuli while breastfeeding a distractible baby and allows for discreet nursing in public places. A sling could also double as a changing pad, blanket, or cushion when you’re away from home.
- Healthy for the mother - New mothers felt challenged to have their "me" time and they can't even find time for some exercise. But if you are carrying your baby with a sling most of the day, you will enjoy the benefits of weightlifting (because of you baby's weight) and walking. Isn't that great?
- Sling provides security for babies - A sling is mostly correlated with infants, yet slings could be useful even for toddlers as most slings can accommodate weight up to 40 pounds. Toddlers are often over-stimulated while in the sling and it would help to comfort and soothe them. It is extremely helpful in places like the, museum, zoo, or the aquarium where a baby in a stroller could miss seeing some of the exhibits.
- Better communication - Parents feel confidant when they are able to read their baby's cues like facial expressions and gestures. Every time the babies can let their parents know that they are bored, hungry or wet without crying, their trust in the parent is increased, thus enhancing the learning and in turn, the parent’s confidence is leveled up. The positive cycle of interaction strengthen the mom-baby attachment and it makes life even more enjoyable for the family.
- Safe and economical - The slings cost far way less than front-carriers, strollers or backpacks. Most mothers consider it to be one of their most economical and useful possessions. Some inexpensive used slings could also be found in thrift and consignment stores, and new slings can be bought for as less as $25 -$50 (U.S.)! You can also try to make one on your own! It really is simple.
When to start baby slings
Right from birth! Slings and wraps are known to be ideal for newborns (do check the manufacturers weight guidelines) and can be used as your baby grows through toddlerhood.
The TICKS approach
What exactly is this T.I.C.K.S.?
Tight - Ensure that the baby sling is rightly tight and your baby is positioned upright and high with the head being supported
In view at all times - You must be able to glimpse the baby’s face clearly. To prevent suffocation, make sure that your baby’s face, mouth and nose remain uncovered by your body and the sling
Close enough to kiss - It should be easy to kiss your baby’s head just by leaning your head towards the baby
Keep chin off the chest - The baby’s chin must be up always and should be away from the body, and should never be curled because it can restrict and interrupt breathing.
Supported back – The sling should support the baby’s back, with the chest and tummy against you. If you want to bend down to pick up something or for any reason, bend your knees and not the waist. Also, always use your other hand to put support on your baby’s back.
Carrying your baby in a sling
Slings are nothing but baby carriers designed to help you carry a baby by easing out the pressure on your arms and back. There are many different kinds of baby carriers in the market and the differentiating factor is do not have any identiﬁed leg openings. The three most common types of sling for carrying baby are:
- Ring sling
How to wear your baby?
We do know now that wearing a baby can make a parent's life much easier than usual and has many incredible benefits for both moms and babies. We and our babies are all unique; so finding which is the right or best carrier, as well as the way you wanted to wear it is a reflection of your uniqueness. Here are a few ways and some more ways for you to try out at ease.
- Front carrier / pack - Essentially like a backpack, but placed in front, with holes where can baby placed his or her arms and legs
- Sling - This goes over the shoulder and going to the opposite side of your hip.
- Asian-style - It is a fabric square along with straps which extend from each corner and can be tied in a many ways with the baby in different positions (this includes placing your baby either on your chest or back)
Is it safe to wear your baby?
Babywearing is a safe activity. However, it is important to observe a few basic safety tips as with any other baby or child product.
- Ensure that your baby can properly breathe. Please note that there is no baby carrier promises that your baby can always have an open airway when baby wearing; it’s your job as a parent
- Do not allow a baby to be held, placed, or carried in a way that their chin is leaned or curled against their chest as it can restrict and interrupt baby's breathing
- Make sure that the baby’s face and head are not covered with the sling's fabric
- Do not jump on a trampoline, run, jog, or do any activity that will put your baby to a similar bouncing or shaking motion as it can damage the baby’s spine, neck, and/or brain
- When riding in a car, don't use the baby sling. You may use an infant car seat instead because it provides more protection and much appropriate when riding a car with a baby.
- Use weight and age appropriate slings
With all the advantages and convenience of baby wearing that we’ve discussed about, it’s hard to see why anyone wouldn’t want to invest in a baby sling. It’s not hard to see why moms (and dads!) love the ease and convenience of baby slings.