Did you know that babies who are carried cry less? Up to 43% less. Not only that but they develop faster and mums are less likely to suffer postnatal depression.
This is because babies expect to be ‘in arms’ because we are a ‘carrying species’ [read more about this here]
On top of that baby slings offer practical advantages too.
Here are a few practical advantages of slings – scroll down to find more information and links regarding the benefits to mother and baby in terms of emotional attachment, brain development and overall health and well-being (not to mention the bit about crying less).
- Fold up a sling and it fits in your bag, not the car boot
- Hop on a bus and go upstairs without annoying the other passengers
- Fit through narrow doorways
- Walk down a steep hill and still have your hands free to play peekaboo or juggle oranges
- Cheap compared to a pushchair and even cheaper if you make your own
- Good for breastfeeding and bottle feeding
- Keep your hands free for other tasks – see picture above of woman washing up
- It’s good exercise
- You can go to the toilet easily without having to either: a) leave your crying baby in another room b) lying your baby down on the toilet floor or c) work out how to achieve the impossible task of getting yourself, a baby and a buggy or pram into a small public toilet cubicle, close the door and pee in private.
Check out this video and note how happy everyone seems (no crying babies here) and how easily the adults chat and walk freely – especially down the escalator in a busy shopping mall. Try that with a pushchair. Nice choice of soundtrack too – lyrics fit really well.
Aside from the practical advantages listed above the benefits of babywearing for health, development and general well-being are enormous. Many websites list these benefits but they don’t all back up claims with the evidence. To make informed choices you need to have access to the evidence, not just unsubstantiated claims.
Here is a list of the benefits along with some useful links so you can check out the research for yourself, if you want.
- Breastfeeding is made easier because close contact stimulates important hormones and chemicals in the mother which increase breastmilk production. Particularly the case for skin to skin contact. (Breastfeeding in a sling is also very convenient). See this article on the benefits of Kangaroo care and browse the Kangaroo Mothercare Site for more detailed information and extensive lists to evidence based research.
- Postnatal depression is reduced / made less likely – largely because of the same factors that improve breastmilk production. (See this research abstract as well as referring to the kangaroo care research mentioned above).
- Babies are happier and cry less. Often quoted research showed that babies cried between 43 and 51% less when they were subject to increased carrying compared to a control group; if you don’t believe that, read the original article.
- Attachment and bonding between mother and child is enhanced – see this research abstract.
- Babies learn how to communicate their needs without crying which makes everyone involved happier, more trusting and confident.
- Physical growth and development benefit from tuning into the carriers body rhythms and the movement and massaging effect on the tummy aids gastrointestinal health.
- Being closer to the carrier enables the baby to participate more in social interaction and get greater feedback about the world around them therefore speeding up learning and development. A 2008 study as part of the Literacy Trust’s “Talk to your baby” campaign showed that babies were better off in rear facing buggies than in front facing. It follows that carrying the baby will work in the same way. See this list of comments about sling wearing by parents on the TTYB website and read the buggy research.
- Babies can nap in a sling, while you go about your daily business. As well as the benefits of the closeness this also reduces the risk of “flathead” syndrome (positional plagiocephaly) which can result from laying on the back too much or sleeping in an infant carrier/car seat.
- According to Dr Sears, incidence of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) may be reduced – he lists 3 reasons he believes babywearing may reduce SIDS.
- Babywearing gives dads and other caregivers a good chance to bond with the baby (and give mum a rest!).
Here are some more great links for reading about the benefits of babywearing: