We took a trip from the Gold Coast to Brisbane this morning and we actually took our stroller with us! Before that, it had been sitting locked up to a post outside of our place, collecting dust. It’s not that I’m anti-stroller, I do use now all the time, it’s just that once I popped Margo in a stretchy baby wrap, called a Hug a Bub, when she was 2 weeks old, my husband and I never looked back!
Here are my top ten reason why baby (and child) wearing is awesome!
1. Babies Feel Safe and Secure
It’s very apparent in a young baby when they want that physical closeness… um.. yeah.. they just start crying… So, the parents pick up the baby to sooth it, AND end up pushing the stroller (talk about having your hands full). Babies can get easily frightened or over stimulated by what’s going on around them. Providing them with a soft place to sort of burying their head into (like an adult), is a great way to keep them calm and happy. When you wear your baby, there is no need to pick up, put down, pick up again, etc. They’re on you AND you have your hands completely free!
It’s much more clear that small babies love being held and carried… but older kids do too! We wear our older daughter, Margo, who is 3 years old, all the time!
I once read a beautiful article, in which the author talks about how when a baby or child is being worn, the ‘external environment‘, or, all the excess stimulation gets absorbed by the person whom is carrying the child. It talks about how when a baby is being worn facing in, they are not ‘forced’ to observe everything that is happening in their environment that is too much for their developing brains to process. If there is too much commotion going on (think bustling Brisbane city) the child can simply not look or sort of zone out and thus avoid being over stimulated.
2. Convenience for the ‘Wearer’
When we used the stroller today, we were severely INCONVENIENCED for most of the time. Man, pushing a stroller up a hill requires at least double the physical exertion of simply carrying a baby up a hill on your back. When wearing a baby, especially on your back, you can easily do things… like tend to an older child… like go to the loo… like walk up stairs, like eat and walk… like check Facebook on your phone (haha, ok, just because I’m a babywearing doesn’t mean I’m not human)… like drink chai latte so that you can stay awake… etc.
3. You Can Go Anywhere
With the stroller, we COULD NOT go everywhere we wanted! We found ourselves constantly looking for the handicap signs, elevators and ramps. (It made me really understand how important it is to make places wheelchair friendly, it is such a huge pain to have to find access if you’re on wheels!)
Also, baby wearing prevents you from being a moving road block to people passing by.
4. Creates ‘Down Time’ for a Baby Tired of Playing
Babies and kids need ‘down time‘. Ironically, for us, ‘down time‘ means ‘up time‘. Babies and toddlers get tired of playing and ‘doing‘ and they just want to ‘be‘.
Baby wearing also helps considerably if you have an older sibling who is grumpy and tormenting the little baby. Rather than waste time yelling and explaining over and over again (and believe, me, it’s a waste of time, you end up sounding like a broken record), I just scoop Goldie up, and remove her from the situation by putting her on me. Instant solution. Not to say that I let Margo torment Goldie and don’t know how to stop it, but you know, sometimes, they just get tired and ratty and there’s just no reasoning with them when they get like that!
5. Responding to a Child’s Need Faster and Communicating
When a baby or child is held close to you, you can talk to them, they can hear you and you can more easily listen to them. Even if they’re not talking yet, you can tell by their noises and body motions that they might be needing something. (For example, when Goldie wants boobies, she practically starts eating me alive…then I know it’s time).
When a baby is on you, you can instantly tell whether they are too hot or cold. I used to think that it would be too hot to wear a baby in the summer, and that I would probably have to use a stroller on these occasions… BUT, the reality is that if it’s too hot to be worn, it’s most likely too hot to be in the stroller. There isn’t as much air flow in there and most of the strollers are black and heat absorbing. When it gets that hot, I just stay inside somewhere until the heat of the day passes. Similarly, when it’s cold, a baby who is on you will stay nice and toasty and so will you! Or, if it’s really too cold, you’ll both feel and it and go inside. Also, when a baby has a fever, get this… your boobs can help to regulate their temperature by cooling down or heating up depending on what they need!
Sun exposure is another one. In a stroller, it’s harder to keep the sun off of them, unless you have one of those sun shield things, but again, the sun shield thingy would restrict fresh air flow on a hot day. When you’re wearing your baby, you can tell right away when the sun is hitting them, and you can turn you body to shield them or quickly cover them up as soon as you’re aware that they sun is hitting them. Plus, the wrap or baby carrier offers some protection, or you can drape muslin cloth over their arms and legs.
6. Skin to Skin Time and Health Benefits
All children need a quota of skin to skin time, and babies need it the most. Time that a child is being worn counts towards that loving touch time that is so essential for the physical and emotional growth.
When I was in high school, I will never forget my health teacher saying something like, ‘the only way to increase bone density is by weight lifting‘. Now, I’m certainly not a doctor and I have no idea if the two are connected… but could baby wearing (that’s like hours of weight lifting a day) possibly help with preventing osteoporosis? I don’t know, but it sounds good to me!
If you have to return to work, baby wearing is for the win, again. Making the best of the time you have to bond with your baby when you get the chance to be with him or her.
7. Safer for Your Baby When Done Correctly
A few years ago, when I was pregnant with Margo, I watched a horrific video caught on a train station surveillance camera (that miraculously ended ok), of a baby strapped in a stroller that accidentally rolled into an oncoming train while the mother momentarily let go of the stroller to hike up her pants! The baby and stroller fell onto the tracks the moment the train pulled into the station. Somehow the baby only ended up with a scratch on his forhead… I’ve also heard from friends about dogs jumping on strollers. One day at the markets, a man asked me if a nearby stroller was mine. I replied, ‘No’, but went over to have a peak and there was a 3 month old baby with a blanket accidentally pulled over her head with nobody around. So, I took the blanket off the baby’s head and waited for the mother to return. The mother was only a few feet away doing some shopping with an older sibling, but could not see the baby’s face, as the stroller was pointed away.
For some reason, I always think too, how a passer-by could accidentally spill something on a baby in a stroller… or bump into them… Or, even worse, I always think how scary it is walking down a hill, or even just crossing the road where there is a downward slope,,, what would happen if you let go? You’re standing safely BEHIND the stroller, while the stroller (with extremely precious cargo) is the first line of defense if something were to come along.
Want to get a serious workout? Lug your baby around!
The exercise is not just for the ‘wearer’ but also for the baby or child being worn! Every time you move, the child is also moving with you. Baby wearing helps to build a baby or child’s motor skills and coordination. Also, when your baby gets a bit older, it’s easy to let them walk for a bit, and then wear them when they start walking slow or get tired. You can do the same in the stroller, the only convenience is that if your toddler is toddling around and you brought your baby carrier, then you still have your hands free, rather than having to push an empty stroller.
9. It Just Looks Cute!
One of the things I love most about baby wearing is that it’s a no-bulk solution to carting your precious one around. Choosing a baby carrier (0r making one yourself) is half the fun! I have lots of different carriers to choose from, so depending on my mood, or my baby’s mood, or how long we will be out, etc. I can choose something different. Of course, you can get by with just one, my older daughter spent the majority of her time in an Ergo. Anyway, whatever you end up wearing your baby in,,, it sure looks cute 🙂
10. Physical Development Benefits for Baby
Wearing a baby tummy to tummy (in other words, facing in), with their legs sort of squat or wrapped around you, is actually very good for their hip development. Babies gain good neck, head and shoulder control from an early age, as they are given many times to use these muscles when they are being worn. (For more on this, read my tummy time blog). Baby wearing probably also helps with the nice shape of a baby’s head. An hour or two a day of being worn, is that much less time that a baby is spending on his or her back.
Other than the obvious physical development that a baby gets from bouncing around in the sling, is the ‘learning‘ component of being worn. Every move you make, the baby makes it with you. They’re learning about the world through your movements. Babies are little sponges, absorbing every moment. What may seem like dull and mundane to us (like doing the dishes or hanging out the wash), is a learning experience for a baby. Just taking your baby out to the garden to water the plants means that somewhere, inside a little brain, synapsis are being formed and pathways of learning are taking place.
To ‘Wrap’ it Up
There is no such thing as spoiling a baby! You can’t hold, cuddle, kiss or handle them too much… Give them the love and attention they need when they’re babies and later on, their confidence and independence will shine through.
Here are some baby wearing resources
For a comprehensive list of different types of carriers, check out my friend’s blog post here
For safe baby wearing checklist, click here
For a DIY post on how to make a ring sling, click here
For a DIY post on how to make your own wrap, click here
For a DIY post on how I made the tie dye wrap, click here
*DISCLAIMER* Baby wearing should be done safely and according to your own physical capabilities. Always read the instructions for your particular baby carrier and routinely check for wear and tear in the straps, buckles and fabric. This post is merely here to offer advice on baby wearing.