The benefits of carrying our babies and why a sling is not just another item to tick off the ‘newborn essentials list’.
As parents, when we are expecting our first baby we are told we need SO much stuff. Like, an overwhelming amount of baby kit to assist us on our parenting journeys.
Typing ‘newborn essentials’ into Google may send you quickly into panic mode when you see how much is listed!
Something on that is listed the majority of the time is a ‘baby carrier’. And rightly so! What a lifesaving piece of kit it can be.
However, it’s not just something to ‘tick off the list’.
A baby carrier can be one of your most precious tools in your parenting tool kit.
The benefits far surpass those of gadgets making false promises such as perfecting your baby’s sleeping patterns or creating the perfect baby meal at the press of a button.
Here are my top 8 benefits of using a baby carrier as a new parent.
By far, the most common benefit we are told about is convenience. New mums soon become professionals at doing everything one handed whilst they hold baby but using a sling to free up that other hand is, quite frankly, revolutionary!
Carrying your baby can give you a huge amount of freedom; allowing you to access locations not accessible with a pushchair.
But you know, the benefits are far greater than convenience.
2. Aids bonding, protects against PND
Humans are hardwired for connection and this is no more true than in the earliest days of life. Psychological studies have suggested that a baby who is securely attached to its caregivers will go on to form strong and stable relationships as they get older.
When we hold our babies close we are blessed by the presence of oxytocin - the love hormone that makes us feel good! Oxytocin supports the production of breastmilk and can play an important role in protecting a mum from postnatal mental health struggles.
3. Reduces crying
A study carried out in 1986 discovered that babies who are carried more cry less, by 43%! Mothers were given baby carriers and instructed to carry their babies throughout their day in addition to feeding, responding to normal upset. The carried babies cried 43% less overall and 51% less during the evening (AKA the witching hour!)
4. Boosts maternal confidence
So many new mums report that carrying their baby in a sling has brought them so much confidence. A sling can bring small wins such as extended naps, getting the washing up done or even completing a grocery shop.
5. Early response to babies cues
Although babies can’t yet communicate verbally with us they find other ways to let us know they need something. Early feeding cues are more likely to be picked up on when a baby is carried in a sling as they are closer to their caregiver. Picking up on these early cues can also massively boost a parents self confidence.
6. Helps with reflux
SO many parents of babies with reflux have reported that carrying their baby upright in a sling has improved the symptoms (i.e. less projectile vomit!) which in turn has improved the quality of life of the parents!
7. Widens your circle of support
Carrying a baby in a sling doesn’t just have to be done by the primary caregiver. Dads can use slings and this is an amazing way for dad and baby to bond.
8. Helps with physical development
The BBC recently reported that hip dysplasia is frequently being missed during newborn checks. Whilst we know that using a narrow based carrier won’t cause hip dysplasia, we do know that the position a narrow based carrier offers does not support infants who have hip dysplasia.
Carriers that support baby in a spread squat position can be hugely beneficial and support hip development.
Using a sling can protect against ‘Flat Head Syndrome’, something that occurs when a baby is left to lie on its back for too long.
These are just some of my favourite benefits, there are far more however!
I hope this small list helps you in making a decision as to whether or not one is important.
Not sure where to start when it comes to baby carriers? Check out my FREE GUIDE