The Benefits of Babywearing for Newborns and New Parents

What if you could have more of those tender bonding moments you see in the commercials, and less of the bloodshot eyes and wailing (let’s face it: you and the baby) that are so often the norm?

For so many parents, babywearing is the key to connecting with their child, and their sanity during those trying early months.

Too many parents are unable to put their lives on pause to give a newborn baby the closeness and attention they biologically need to thrive, simply because dishes. Because work. Because showering.

The day grinds on. You need food in your fridge and a habitable home for your family, and some days, it just feels impossible to get there with a tiny, adorable infant needing you so much. For parents struggling to find the balance between nurturing and sanity, babywearing is offering a return to normalcy, and a chance for bonding with baby, even when your hands are busy with something else.

Here are just a few of the incredible benefits of babywearing for newborns (and new parents) that’ll convince you to start practicing for your bub’s arrival today.

Babywearing Prevents SIDS

Tired mom and baby lying down

One of perhaps the most incredible benefits of babywearing is that it actually has a physiological effect on a newborn baby. Safe babywearing has actually been shown to reduce the incidence of SIDS, for the most fascinating reason.

In utero, babies are stimulated to regulate their bodies constantly by the mother’s womb. From heart rate to breathing — there’s always a metronome in place, keeping the gears turning. Once out of the womb, newborns can sometimes have difficulty regulating these things on their own without close contact with their parents.

That’s where babywearing comes in. Pressed up against your skin, the contact with your body can actually help to regulate this delicate system in your newborn. As you walk, the rocking motion mimics what they felt in the womb, reminding their vestibular system to do its job and maintain steady breathing and heart rhythm. The rise and fall of your chest, the sound of your voice, the warmth from your body — all of it keeps a newborn’s still-adjusting system running in sync with yours.

Babywearing May Prevent Postpartum Depression

Mom and newborn baby in wrap rocking

Much of the evidence for this claim is still largely anecdotal, but talk to a babywearing mom that suffered from postpartum depression, and you’ll likely hear a story of lights in the darkness — bright moments that helped them connect with an infant they felt overwhelmed and emotionally detached from.

Behaviorally, babywearing helps negate the effects of postpartum depression for the infant, simply because it gives a baby more time to bond with a mother that might otherwise feel physically and emotionally detached. It also makes mothers suffering from PPD feel more competent, and more responsive to their babies.

Babywearing Can Maintain a Sense of Normalcy in the Chaos

Those first few weeks after having a baby for most parents are a blur of night feeds and endless, endless rocking, swaying, and shushing. For breastfeeding mothers, whose babies are particularly physically dependent on them because of how often they must nurse, it can feel like everyone you know is living their lives, while you’re stuck in a house all day catering to a tiny screaming dictator.

Babywearing lets you reclaim your freedom and rejoin the ranks of society — it makes you feel human again. You get the chance to spend time with your friends, walk around department stores, have dinner with your family, all with a baby attached to you, sure, but you’re there. You’re no longer hanging back and missing out.

Newborn baby and mom with ring sling

Babywearing means you can do the dishes (I mean, if you really want to). It means you can pick up toys, grocery shop, talk on the phone, make a snack, change the channel — all of the things, even with a baby glued to your chest.

You get to be a human, and your newborn gets the closeness they need to thrive in those precious first few months of life.

Babywearing Includes Dad

Newborn baby with dad in ring sling

The first few months of a baby’s life (or in some cases, the first few years), they are almost exclusively dependent on their mothers, both physically and emotionally, and this can leave Dad feeling a bit left out.

Babywearing gives your baby the security and closeness they need to feel safe, while still giving others the chance to bond with them. It’s not just great for dads, either. This is a great way for siblings, grandparents, and friends to bond with baby (and give mom a break).

Teach your family how to babywear, and make it more comfortable for both them and baby to bond.

Babywearing a Newborn Safely

Newborn baby in ring sling Maya Wrap

 

Speaking firsthand as a mom that had a Velcro baby that NEVER wanted to be put down, babywearing was a lifesaver. It gave me my freedom back, and it built an incredible bond between us.

That being said, babywearing is absolutely not without its risks, and should be done carefully and sensibly to ensure that baby stays safe and secure, and you don’t wind up throwing out your back in the process.

Each carrier is different in the precautions you need to take to ensure a safe and comfortable fit, but in general, here are a few good rules of thumb to keep in mind:

Always keep the airway clear. Babies up to four months are particularly vulnerable to kinked airways, so make sure you always carry your newborn in a vertical position. Baby’s face and nose should always be visible, regardless of the carrying position they’re in, and their head shouldn’t be slumped forward.

Always support the neck and head with newborns. It’s incredibly important to make sure the carrier is placed in such a way that your newborn’s head and neck is gently but securely supported. Though there are some buckle carriers that offer the neck support necessary for newborns, slings and wraps are often recommended for newborns without neck control.

Be conscientious with your activity choices. While many parents exercise safely while babywearing, it’s important that this exercise is done sensibly. This means nothing that has a high risk of falling, and nothing that could jolt your baby, including jogging and more advanced yoga.

Be mindful of your baby’s temperature. When you babywear, you share your body heat with your baby, and in the wrong material, it’s very easy to get too hot. Wear cotton layers in warm weather, and make sure the carrier you use is appropriate for the temperature. I love my cotton ring sling for hot summer days!

Be cautious with what you wear. This is one that took me some time to realize, but when you babywear, what you wear ends up in direct contact with baby. Be cautious about your jewelry (particularly necklaces), and be mindful of products with harsh fragrances, like perfumes and lotions, that could come into direct contact with your baby.

The Best Baby Carriers for Newborns

Mom carrying a newborn in a Maya Wrap ring sling

If you’re fast approaching baby day, it’s time to get comfortable with a carrier or two before your little bundle arrives.

While everyone is different in terms of their own personal preferences, generally what is recommended for newborns is going to be something that most closely replicates the feel of the womb, and that’s either going to be a wrap or a ring sling.

Wraps are very simple — just long pieces of fabric that you tie around yourself to secure your baby to your body in special configurations. There’s a learning curve with any kind of babywearing, but with wraps in particular, it might be helpful to watch a few YouTube videos and practice with a stuffed animal so that you can get the hang of it before you have an impatient baby to contend with.

Ring slings are great for parents that don’t quite have the patience to mess with a wrap. When baby just won’t wait and you want something quick and easy, ring slings are the way to go. They’re exactly what they sound like — a simple piece of fabric, threaded through two rings sewn into one end, and a shoulder area designed for comfort.

Ring slings are incredibly easy to use, fit almost any body type, and are extremely comforting to newborns still adjusting to life outside of the womb.

I’ve been through some baby carriers y’all, and I can honestly say that Maya Wrap makes some of the most beautiful, comfortable slings around. Their sizing is easy to understand, the fabric is buttery soft and breathable, and all of their materials are sourced with baby’s delicate skin in mind, from their USA made rings to the 100% hand-loomed cotton.

Order yours today, and start practicing with the perfect newborn carrier.

Shop ring slings here.

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Sources:

https://www.askdrsears.com/topics/health-concerns/sleep-problems/sids/3-reasons-babywearing-reduces-sids

https://babywearinginternational.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/ChristieChapmanABEProject.pdf

https://babywearinginternational.org/2015/08/03/babywearing-research-part-2-relevant-research/

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