When I decided to be a babywearing mama and forgo a stroller, I had a couple of the most often recited benefits of babywearing in mind. Wearing my baby would leave my hands free for other tasks and make it easier to navigate through crowds.
While snuggling my newborn in a soft Baby K'tan Organic Baby Carrier and later toting my four-month-old around in an ERGObaby Organic Baby Carrier, I found that there were additional unexpected benefits of babywearing.
Although there is research to back up these concepts, this list is based on my personal experiences and observations with my very own snuggle muffin.
Benefits of Babywearing
(1) Strengthens Baby's neck, back, and stomach muscles
Perhaps the most impressive benefit of babywearing that I stumbled upon was that it helps to strengthen Baby's neck, back, and stomach muscles. [1. Strollers, Baby Carriers and Infant Stress, Boba, http://www.boba.com/research/strollers-baby-carriers-and-infant-stress/]
My little one has been worn in a wrap or baby carrier since the day we brought him home from the hospital. It wasn't until he started sitting up on his own at four months old that we realized what a great work-out he was getting while riding in the baby carrier. While I walk he resists the urge to jostle every which way by using his muscles to hold his head up and his back straight.
(2) Allows Baby to participate in conversations
While being worn, Baby can easily hear conversations and observe facial expressions.
Even at only a couple months old my baby expected to be acknowledged and spoken to directly. In the elevator he would gaze intently at another passenger, waiting for them to turn and speak to him. He seemed disappointed when adults failed to make eye contact and address him directly.
Wearing your baby also makes it much easier to talk to your baby, narrating as you go, and reassuring him when he is startled.[2. The Benefits of Babywearing, La Leche League, http://www.lalecheleague.org/nb/nbnovdec04p204.html]
(3) Gives Baby a great view
At first my newborn was happy to keep his head turned to one side as he snuggled close in the Baby K'tan wrap. But as he got older and gained the strength to hold his head up, he discovered that he could look left, no right, no left, no right. And even up, gazing into Mommy's eyes!
From his vantage point while being worn he can see people's faces, displays in store windows, trees, and clouds in the sky.
(4) Helps the babywearer get in shape
Members of mommy groups are constantly asking for advice on how to lose the baby weight. My suggestion is to strap on your baby and go for a walk. It's like walking around everywhere with a 5, 10 or 20 pound weight!
(5) Makes it easier to tune into Baby's needs
With my baby right below my nose it is easier to tune into and respond to his needs.[5. Benefits of Babywearing, Babywearing International, http://babywearinginternational.org/articles.php?article=1] It is easy to tell when he is hungry and starts rooting or squirms to indicate that he needs to get out of the carrier to pee.
(6) Makes it easier to deflect stranger's hands
Even in the early newborn days I felt fine taking my baby out in public. He was all wrapped up close to me and I could easily encircle him with my arms to deflect any uninvited cheek-pinchers.
(7) Helps get the burps out
I had learned from a friend that babies should be burped for 15-20 minutes after each feeding. That's a lot of time spent burping!
With my own baby I give a few little bounces and maybe 5 minutes of burping before loading him into the carrier. The burps work themselves out as I walk.
It's much more comfortable for Baby to be upright after a meal than lying down. I picture myself eating a huge burrito and then lying down for a nap, only to wake up with heartburn.
(8) Promotes napping
On days when Little One seems to be fighting a nap with all his strength, a sure fire bet is to put him in the carrier and go for a walk. Sometimes he is asleep as soon as I hit the sidewalk.
(9) Encourages packing light
I only baby-wear. My four-month-old has never ridden in a stroller. I also no longer own a car.
Without a stroller to clip my diaper bag to or a trunk to fill with baby items, I am forced to pack light. Some days it's baby on front, diaper bag on one shoulder, and beach bag on the other shoulder. This makes me think twice about what I pack in the diaper bag and wether I really need to be toting around many "just in case" baby items.
(10) Encourages the quiet-alert state
One of my favorite benefits of babywearing is that it promotes the quiet-alert state. [10. Benefits of Babywearing, Ask Dr. Sears, http://www.askdrsears.com/topics/health-concerns/fussy-baby/baby-wearing/benefits-babywearing] When I go for a walk wearing my baby, he contentedly soaks in the sights and sounds. Rather than expending energy crying to be picked up, he is happily exploring the world from the comfort of his mother's arms.
What is your favorite benefit of babywearing?