One of the most popular baby shower gifts today is an infant sling or wrap. The trend in baby wearing is one that is deeply beneficial in the development of a baby. For many years, non-industrialized cultures have practiced this technique of wrapping baby in fabric and carrying her mother’s back or chest during the day while mother goes about her household duties. The benefits of baby wearing include:
- Reduced Crying
- Facilitates Motor Skill Development
- Free Hands for the Mother (or Father)
- Improves Emotional Bonding
SOOTHES BABY’S CRYING
A research study published in 1986 by the American Academy of Pediatrics, in the journal Pediatrics, found “Increased Carrying Reduces Infant Crying.” This study found that crying patterns of infants decreased 40-50% when the babies were carried for an additional couple of hours a day in slings or wraps. This additional time does not include the minutes of holding and carrying of baby during feeding or soothing cries. The researchers suggest that the relative lack of carrying in our society may predispose infants to colic and crying. Published in 1986, the researchers now have the chance to observe the increase in baby wrapping and wearing.
FACILITATES MOTOR SKILL DEVELOPMENT
Baby wearing also facilitates motor skill development in babies. The pressure of the fabric wrapped around baby’s body along with the pressure of her body against her mother’s (or father’s) improves her proprioception. She also experiences a wonderful amount of vestibular stimulation while gently moving around with her mother. This facilitates the development of balance. Baby also enjoys the opportunity to be on eye level with the activity of the world around her.
BENEFITS MOTHER (OR FATHER)
Today there is an epidemic of utilizing equipment such as jumpers and exersaucers/activity centers to give mother free hands so she can go about her daily activities. Using these pieces of baby gear force baby to be in a positon her bones and muscles are not yet ready for. Better developmental options which also free the hands of the parent and facilitate the development of a baby include the playpen and the baby wraps. Psychologists also suggest there is an increase in the emotional bonding of the mother/father to the baby with the use of wraps and slings, and may be especially useful in cases with maternal postpartum depression. And with both parents working today in many families, dad can learn to wear the wrap as well.
HOW TO WRAP BABY
It is important to receive instruction from a qualified resource regarding the technique of wrapping baby. In recent years there have been recalls on certain wraps/sling due to problems often related to how the parent was using it. It is important to observe safety precautions. One important point is to make sure that the baby’s chin in not pressed down toward her throat making breathing difficult. Another safety tip is to avoid carrying baby in a vertical position, with her head up toward the sky, until she has mastered tummy-time. She is not strong enough in her neck muscles to hold her head up for long periods of time in a carrier until she can do so on the floor while on her tummy. Opt instead for a baby wrap such as the moby wrap where you can learn to carry baby in the horizontal positon. Babies enjoy being carried with you, it just takes a bit of patience and learning to use these tools.