The Benefits of Babywearing
Ever wondered why a baby elephant is up on its feet within minutes of birth, but baby humans are so helpless?
The superior intelligent of the human species means they have bigger brains. If babies were to develop in the womb for the length of time needed for them to have some independence, their skull size would be too big for any woman to give birth, so they are effectively born developmentally premature. This means that babies instinctively want to be carried and held by their mothers in a carrying phase that is an extension to their time in the womb. For their nine months in the womb, they require around another nine months of carrying as they mature.
Babywearing Reduces Crying
Babywearing reduces crying because mother and baby are still connected, which is calming to the infant. In countries where mothers routinely carry their babies in slings, such as Africa, the babies cry much less than western babies and crying is not considered normal. If a baby's needs are met, they don't cry.
Babywearing Encourages Speech and Cognition
Being close to a parent's face allows the baby to pay closer attention to conversations that are going on and may help babies to develop their speech. Researchers looking at the effects of babywearing found that babies who are carried are more alert to sights and sounds around them.
Babywearing Promotes Breastfeeding
A study of 200 mothers in Italy found that those who used a sling during the first month of their babies lives also breastfed them for longer than those who didn't. Some slings are designed to accommodate breastfeeding 'on the go' so the baby can suckle while being carried. This allows mum to breastfeed discreetly in public and to get on with other tasks or play with an older child at the same time. Breastfeeding rates are dismal in most first world countries, with the majority of mothers quitting by the time their baby is 6 weeks old. The biologically appropriate behaviour of constant suckling in the first few weeks may be a reason why so many women give up. Being able to get on with other activities at the same time could encourage mother's to continue, bringing emotional, nutritional and immunological benefits to the infant, including a reduced risk of SIDS.