Not just a fashion statement, babywearing is considered a parenting skill by many. That’s a very accurate description for what is now a popular trend for moms and dads alike. Whether you’re a seasoned wearer, new to this special ability, or just wondering what it’s all about, we’ve got you covered. Part one of a two-part series, the five Ws below seek to answer your questions regarding the basics of babywearing.
What is it? Just as it sounds, babywearing refers to the technique of wearing your baby, just not quite like you would a new scarf or a pair of earrings. Instead, this technique allows you to keep your baby near to you while providing close contact that offers a multitude of benefits. Using one of many types of carriers, slings, and wraps, your baby remains safe and secure against your body.
Who does it? You might be surprised to learn that modern women aren’t the only ones babywearing. In fact, the concept has been around for ages, ever since early mothers began fashioning wearers from nets and animal skins. Women in many parts of the world also wear their babies; they just may not have access to the many types of carriers available to you. And don’t be mistaken—not just women wear their babies. Many proud fathers have let go of those silly insecurities of how they might look and have embraced the skill after realizing its benefits as well.
Why should I wear? There are many practical benefits of babywearing for the parent. One of which is freeing your hands to complete other tasks with your baby right there with you. However, simply accomplishing more while not having to worry about a baby out of sight isn’t the only reason to wear. The physical contact provided through babywearing is known to be crucial to your baby’s health and development. It can improve babies’ immune systems and regulate temperature and heart rates. Wearing your baby will likely cut down on crying and fussiness as well.
The emotional benefits for both parent and child are numerous. Babywearing parents become very in tune to their child’s movements, gestures, and expressions. The act of babywearing also deepens the bonding and attachment between parent and child. For this reason, it can be especially helpful for mothers at risk for postpartum depression.
When is wearing okay? The better question might be asking when not to wear. The beauty of babywearing is that it not only provides an exhaustive list of benefits for parents and their babies; it can be done at almost any time. For example, if you’re sitting at home watching a movie, sitting in church, walking in the mall, or strolling through the park, you can wear your baby. Grocery shopping, at a soccer game, or perusing the library bookshelves? Go ahead and wear.
Of course, there are times you won’t want to wear your baby, such as when you’re riding in a car, jogging, or performing an activity with a lot of bouncing. Also, never wear your baby around hot surfaces such as a stove top or around sharp objects. You’ll find plenty occasions that are safe for babywearing and will, undoubtedly, enjoy the comfort both you and your child receive when you do.
Where can I find a carrier? You’re very fortunate to live in a time in which access to the very best baby-gear is readily available. One of the reasons babywearing has become so popular is due to technology and the internet age. Not only are the advantages of this parenting skill becoming widespread online, parents all over the world can order a number of different types of carriers to best meet their needs. Many of your local stores now have carriers in stock, but typically, you’ll find the widest variety of babywearing options online.
It wouldn’t be right to have the five Ws without including that one important H.
How do I get started? One great way to become part of the many, proud babywearers is to first determine your need. Use this time-saving buying guide, featured as part two of this babywearing series, to evaluate your options. It will help as you approach the purchase of your very first carrier.
Secondly, take advantage of the other great resources on the subject. Both Babywearing International and Attachment Parenting International have comprehensive sites which feature useful information on babywearing. You can learn about its history as well as find tips, articles, forums, and links to additional resources there.
Finally, don’t get overwhelmed. After a bit of practice, you’ll be wearing your baby like a pro and reaping the rewards of babywearing like many other moms out there!