Babywearing is a great way to bond with your baby. We’ve all heard this, and it’s one of the first reasons people have for wanting to buy a wrap or carrier, but what does it really mean? What are the real benefits of using a sling or carrier to bond with your baby?
Oxytocin is a hormone that’s linked to feelings of love and connection with others. In women it is developed during the birth process and released during breastfeeding. In both men and women Oxytocin is released during positive interaction and contact with their baby. Research shows that higher levels of Oxytocin corresponds with parents interacting more with their baby and reduced feelings of stress and anxiety.
So, what does this mean for babywearing? Using a sling, wrap or carrier is a great way to give you extended periods of positive contact with your baby. This increases how much you engage with your baby, promoting healthy emotional attachment, both essential for a baby’s cognitive development. Oxytocin helps you both to feel more relaxed and even reduces the effects of post-natal depression.
With our baby held snugly close against us, and all that oxytocin helping to keep us calm and engaged, it’s much easier to tune in to our baby’s individual movements, noises and signals. All babies have different ways of letting us know what their needs are. How they move their faces just before they get hungry, the sounds they make when they’re getting tired; there are many cues that babies make before they start crying. Babywearing from birth is a great way to tune into your baby’s needs, I have explained this in more detail in a previous blog post.
Daily babywearing makes it easier and quicker to learn your baby’s unique ‘language’ so that you can understand and meet their needs more easily. And whilst all babies cry sometimes, it’s much easier to parent a baby that doesn’t always need to cry to be heard!
Many research studies have shown how sharing experiences with you boosts your child’s confidence, cognitive and language development. You don’t need to do ‘special activities’ with your baby; simply being part of your daily life; seeing what you do and hearing how you talk about it; meeting people and remembering shared experiences. All of these are great ways to promote health social and language development, even before your baby can speak.
When carried in a sling or carrier, your baby is held in a great position to share everything you do. They are up at a social height – they can see your face and easily ‘talk’ to you as soon as they are able to start expressing themselves. They are fully involved in what you’re doing – experiencing all the movements, sights and sounds of everything going on around them. Best of all for your little one, when held close to your body they are in a safe place to experience all these exciting new things without getting nervous; a great way for them to develop their confidence and independence.
To there you have it! Babywearing IS great for bonding with your baby, and also offers so many benefits for your baby’s development, and for making your life as a parent easier.
Written by Emily Williamson, carrying consultant and designer of the Izmi Baby Carrier