What Is Babywearing And What Are The Benefits?
Babywearing is the ancient tradition of carrying infants and young children in a piece of cloth known as a sling, which allows the wearer to carry on with daily tasks while keeping young children conveniently and safely close. Babywearing has seen a massive increase in popularity in recent years. In 2006 Babywearing Ireland, a voluntary organisation was set up by Irish parents to help others learn about and find support to keep their babies close in a safe and enjoyable manner.
Today slings and carriers come in all shapes and sizes with everything from stretchy or woven wraps, ring slings, mei tais and buckle carriers available to parents and carers.
Benefits of Babywearing
There are many health benefits to babywearing. In the early days, keeping your newborn close promotes bonding, and also helps to regulate baby’s temperature, heart rate and respiratory rate. Babies who are carried more cry less. Babywearing also has beneficial effects on mom: production of the hormone oxytocin is increased, which in turn can improve bonding, breastfeeding, and may reduce the risk of post-natal depression. When you wear your baby you will automatically stroke them, comfort them, speak to them, and kiss them, if you are out and about they have a constant connection and are close to a familiar heartbeat.
This close proximity increases interaction; there is constant touch, smell, sight and sound. This heightened perception of your child’s needs fosters a sense of security and trust. Your baby can see your facial expression and hear your voice – leaving your hands free to do whatever needs doing while still keeping your little one close and content. In A Baby Wants to be Carried, author Evelin Kirkilionis explains why babies respond so well to being carried in a sling, wrap or other carrier; “Held close to the body of a familiar caregiver, babies thrive on the sense of security they feel as they interact – on their own terms – with their surroundings.” She adds: “modern parents must navigate their way through a mass of conflicting information about babywearing. How should a baby be carried, in what, for how long and will it be safe?”
So you want to find out more?
If you already have a sling or carrier that is not working for you, are overwhelmed by your options or just need to have your hands free to tend to older children – then babywearing could benefit you and your family. Look up Babywearing Ireland (BWI), get to your local sling meet, meet other babywearers and try as many types as you can before buying. If you prefer, you can rent one of over 150 slings available in the BWI National Sling library and these will be posted directly to your home.
Last year Babywearing Ireland celebrated its tenth anniversary. Babywearing Ireland offers a number of services such as Sling Meets, Sling Libraries and Online Support. With Sling meets throughout Ireland Babywearing Ireland brings together volunteers, experienced babywearing and those curious about finding more about the benefits of babywearing. The Sling meets allow parents and caregivers to learn about babywearing and try different types of slings.
Karen McKevitt BWI chairperson explains: “Our aim is to educate parents and caregivers about the benefits and safe use of baby carriers. We follow the T.I.C.K.S. guidelines and only recommend ergonomic carriers that provide the correct support for the child and adult. When you have your baby in a sling, you are constantly right there to meet their needs and pick up on their cues. They feel safe and content. Babywearing has also been shown to give caregivers an increased sense of confidence in their role too. They have an extra tool in their parenting kit, to make things easier. Babywearing has connected me with some fantastic people and has led me on a parenting journey like no other.”
Have you tried babywearing? How did you find it?
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