I don’t even remember how I was first introduced to the concept of wearing your baby…but I can tell you that in the past few years I have become a complete advocate of doing so! The picture above is of me wearing my nephew. I was putting dishes away at the same time, and he actually fell asleep in that position.
Wearing your baby is important and convenient for many reasons. From the adult’s perspective, it is awesome becuase it frees your hands so that you can load the dishwasher, mop the floor, care for an older child, or even garden or make dinner while still keeping your baby snuggled close to you. You also tend to be moving around when you wearing your baby, and this constant motion helps to keep your little one calm and soothed while you go about your daily routine. You don’t have to worry about how the baby is doing or if she is about to cry, because you have her right there with you. This allows you to repond to her cues earlier than if she were away from your body, thus (sometimes, at least) alleviating serious crying.
Humans developed baby wearing methods because we lost our fur as evolution progressed. If you’ve ever seen pictures of monkeys or gorillas, you see that the baby is often riding on the mother’s back with its little hands clutching onto her fur.
I don’t know about you, but a) I don’t have that much hair on my back and b) I don’t want a baby clinging to the hair on my head. Prehistoric mothers thought the same thing, and so invented baby wearing. There were berries to gather and food to cook regardless of whether there was a new baby around, and through babywearing parents were able to attend to both the needs of their babies and the needs of everyone else.
Babywearing is important, perhapse even crucial, to the baby, too. Babies’ little bodies don’t know yet that if they are left alone in a playpen for an hour, it’s ok; they are not going to get eaten by a saber tooth tiger. They are still tied into the prehistoric mindset that “If I am being held by mommy or daddy, I’m going to be ok!”
Numerous studies have shown that when babies are continuously held, which is what babywearing allows for, their stress levels are significantly reduced, they cry less, they breastfeed more, and they are more socially engaged. The breastfeeding is more possible because the baby is right up close to your chest, so it is easy to help the baby latch on when he starts to cue that he is hungry, even if he just wants to nurse for a few minutes. Social engagement occurs because babies are up where the action is! They see adult faces and observe the interactions more closely than if they are in a stoller or in a baby bucket carseat on the floor.
I am excited about babywearing with Squirt for all of the above reasons, and more. They are tiny for such a short while, and I want to be able to revel in all that baby newness while I can. For moms, the more that you have your baby up around your chest, the more lactation hormones you produce and the more your milk is supply is steadied. I figure that the more help you can get with breastfeeding, the better, espeically when it is something as simple and magical as cuddling your baby. Plus, Squirt is due in December…flu season…so I am hoping that by wearing Squirt to the grocery store, post office, doctor’s, etc., I can deter people from wanting to continually touch Squirt’s hands and face! I’ll let you know if that works out. 🙂