Babywearing Ireland believes in the physical, practical, emotional and sensory benefits of babywearing

Physical Benefits

Hips
In an ergonomic sling, the legs are supported knee to knee. The bum is lower than the knees (M position). The legs are flexed and abducted in a spread squat position that puts the head of the femur right into the socket of the pelvis. This is the ideal position for hip development. (for more information see www.hipdysplasia.org)

Spine
We don’t develop the double S-curve in our spine until we begin to walk. Infant spines are straighter and the body seems to be slightly rounded. A good ergonomic sling will support the full length of the spine preventing the baby from slumping.

Head
Wearing prevents positional plagiocephaly (flat head) which is now more common since babies sleep on their backs in keeping with SIDS guidelines. When a baby is carried upright in a sling, they must constantly make many small balancing movements. This helps develop motor skills and many worn babies can stabilise their heads earlier.

Digestion
Using slings can help with reflux and colic. Baby can be fed and then kept upright and soothed by the movement of the wearer.

Posture of wearer
It is easier to stand and walk with the correct posture when you’re carrying a baby in an ergonomic sling compared to pushing a buggy or using a narrow base carrier. A lot of our members that have physical issues find it easier to babywear than to push a buggy (please seek medical advice and the advice of a babywearing consultant). When babywearing, it is important to engage core muscles. Babywearing is a form of weight training.

Practical Benefits

Access
Slings just seem to make everything easier. Stairs, muddy fields, beaches, hiking, busy streets, and crowded narrow shops are all easier when you have your hands free and the baby in a sling. There’s no more struggling to go through doors with a buggy. No more constantly saying ‘excuse me’ while you try to find your way through. Public transport is no hassle. No need to find a place to park the buggy if at a café. You automatically can now go anywhere your two feet can lead you.

Older Kids
If you have older kids, but they’re not old enough to have road sense, you now have your hands free to hold their hands and keep them safe if crossing the road, in a busy shop or on a busy street. You can still meet the needs of your older kids whilst keeping the baby close and attending to their needs also both inside and outside the house. You’re not trying to push a buggy and bring a toddler on their new bike that they haven’t managed to steer properly yet. You can play ball. Push a swing. You can help a toddler get dressed. Make breakfast. Jump in puddles. Have arms free for toddler cuddles. The list is endless.

Naps
There is something so convenient about a baby that will readily fall asleep in a sling. It doesn’t matter where you are, your baby now has a familiar place to rest. It’s not always ideal to have a buggy with you. With a sling, there is no where you can’t bring it. Social gatherings, hospitals, holidays, plane journeys.. the sling is always to hand and your baby will automatically be comforted and rest once put into the sling if they’re used to it. An overwhelming majority find it doesn’t interfere with the baby sleeping in the cot at night either. A rested baby is a happy and content baby.

When a baby is born, wearing them in a sling has proven to help in lots of ways. The physical contact and movement are calming and also help to regulate temperature, breathing and heart rate, and the benefits don’t stop there.

Emotional & Sensory Benefits

A study done by anthropologists that traveled to study infant care practices in other cultures found that infants that are worn cry up to 43% less in general and up to 54% less in the evening hours. (Hunziker UA & Garr RG 1986). When you have a baby in a sling, you’re constantly right there to meet babies needs. You pick up on their cues and non-cry signals earlier and instinctively. The close proximity increases interaction. There is constant touch, smell, sight and sound. This heightened perception of the childs needs, fosters a sense of security and trust. The infant spends more time in a state of quiet alertness, which is the optimal state of learning. The baby is at the optimal distance to see the caregiver’s facial expressions. To hear their voice. This has been shown to assist with speech development. The baby can see what the caregiver sees. They can listen to the familiar heartbeat. They feel safe and content. This multi-sensory integration is very beneficial for a baby’s development. 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.

Enjoyment
There is no obligatory amount of time that you need to carry your baby. The important thing is to enjoy when you do wear regardless of how often that is or for how long. If you experience pain when wearing it may be worth getting your sling checked/position by a babywearing consultant and if pain continues seeking medical advice for yourself. You may find that you’re happy to wear when going for a walk but feel constricted wearing around the house. Or that you’d rather wear at home and use the buggy when out. Wearing because you feel you should will do more harm than good. Every caregiver and every baby are different in their needs and wants for physical contact. Being carried is not a requirement for a happy parent child relationship. So wear your baby how you want and when you want. Happy babywearing 🙂

Happy Baby
A happy baby is one that has their needs met with or without a sling.. They have constant physical contact, which babies crave. They have constant touch, smell, sight; they can hear you, they can hear your heart beat. It is constant connection and interaction. When you wear your baby you will automatically stroke them, comfort them, speak to them, and kiss them sometimes without realising. You will pick up on baby’s discomfort if they’re wet or dirty much quicker. You will pick up on the early cues that they are hungry. If you’re out and about, people wont ask to hold your baby. You can prevent your baby getting over stimulated. They have a constant connection and sense of security. When babywearing, you offer your baby multi-sensory integration. Worn babies are calmer. This contact is also as beneficial for the wearer and has shown to help reduce or prevent postnatal depression.