Babywearing: Safety Tips, How-to & Best Carriers
More than just a trend, babywearing has many benefits for both you and for baby. Read along as Babytalk Babywearing Expert, Erica Desper, shares 5 key benefits that will make you a believer.
If you’re currently wondering if you need a baby carrier and/or wrap on your registry, the answer is yes.
While it’s one of the things that’s going to help keep your hands free (so you can FINALLY take a sip of coffee), it’s also going to provide numerous benefits.
In this article, we’ll go over:
- The benefits of babywearing
- How to choose a baby carrier
- Resources for finding a babywearing group or consultant
- Our favorite baby carriers
Scroll down to learn more!
The benefits of babywearing
While wearing a baby carrier is obviously a convenient way to tote your baby around while you grab a bite to eat, tend to another child, get some work done or fold laundry, it actually offers some benefits you may not be aware of.
#1 Babywearing reduces crying and boosts sleep
Research has shown that carried babies cry less than your average non-carried baby, up to 54% less in fact.
In addition, studies by anthropologists have noted that in Western culture we measure crying in hours, whereas traditional baby-wearing cultures measure crying in minutes. This is done because they are simply not seeing babies cry for extended periods of time like we do in Western cultures. So, why the stark contrast?
Well, it helps if we think about it in terms of a baby’s gestation being 9 months in the womb, and 9 months outside of the womb. When they arrive, they aren’t truly ready to be here.
- Baby wearing allows us to help mimic their womb environment, ultimately helping them to better self-regulate.
- Mom’s movements help to mimic the motion baby experienced in the womb.
- Mom’s sounds such as her heartbeat and rhythmic breathing also help baby to regulate her own breathing.
These familiar sensations lead to a calmer state for both baby and mama. Baby thus expends less energy, releases less stress hormones, and as a result, gets more sleep. When my son was a newborn and beyond, baby wearing was my personal lifeline for having a happier baby and being a happier mama.
#2 Babywearing promotes learning
We’ve established that research shows a carried baby spends less time crying and fussing. So the question is, what does she do with all of that free time? Learn, of course! A carried baby spends more time in a state of “quiet alertness” which is, in fact, the only state where they can take in information from their environment and learn.
Not only is baby in an optimal state for learning but the 180° degree view of her environment, as well as the social interactions that occur when worn, are vastly different from say lying in a stroller or a bouncer. Enhanced environmental experiences have proven to lead to greater nerve stimulation and connections, which help the brain to grow and develop.
#3 Babywearing reduces the risk of SIDS and flat head syndrome
Most SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) occurrences happen when a baby is alone in a room. By wearing your baby – you’ll be able to keep them close and prevent any dangers of accidental air blockages.
Flat head syndrome (medically referred to as plagiocephaly), is when a flat spot appears on the back or side of your baby’s head.
While there can be other causes for plagiocephaly (like being a multiple with not much room to move in the womb or having a congenital birth defect diagnosis), the most common form is positional, which basically means spending too much time in one position.
Signs can include:
- Flat spot or spots
- Lack of a soft spot on the skull
- Uneven eyes and/or ears
- Slanted shaped head
- Hard ridges on the head
One preventative solution is wearing your baby for a period of the day.
#4 Babywearing promotes bonding (and makes breast-feeding easier)
In order to maintain milk production, a woman’s body must get the signal to create the hormones, prolactin and oxytocin. By maintaining close contact with a baby, mothers are shown to have a better milk supply, while babies are shown to recognize feeding cues and schedules.
Since mothers tend to do a lot of the caregiving in the first few months, having a partner wear the baby can be a fantastic way for them bond.
#5 Baby wearing (when done correctly) helps prevent strain on your neck, back and shoulders
Holding a baby can cause mothers to hunch, lean to one side and ultimately put strain on places where no person needs added strain.
Baby carriers can be a great way to evenly distribute your baby’s weight so that your body can stay in an ergonomic position.
How to choose a baby carrier
To get started wearing your baby, you’ll want to try on a range of carriers to find one that suits your build and your baby’s age and size, as well as your needs and what type of weather conditions you’ll be wearing it in.
Some carriers are ideal for long periods of wearing while others are easier to pop baby in and out more frequently. Some are easier to nurse in as well. A baby wearing group can help you determine this, as well as some retailers who encourage a ‘try before you buy’ approach.
Just remember the best carrier is not always the most popular carrier, but rather the one that fits you most comfortably and is easiest for you to use and adjust as needed.
You’ll also want to consider WHAT it is made of.
At The Tot, we never use or recommend anything that hasn’t passed The Tot Test. This means we’ve looked deep into third-party testing, examined ingredients lists and asked in-depth questions about a products’ composition to ensure it doesn’t contain any of the chemicals we avoid.
When it comes to baby carriers, we like to steer clear of:
- PFAS chemicals – Used for water and stain-proofing fabrics, PFAS (poly-fluoroalkyl substances) are a large family of different chemicals that have been shown to cause developmental and other adverse effects in laboratory animals.
- BPA + BPS (Bisphenols) – Often used in plastics, bisphenols mimic the hormone estrogen and have been linked to prostate cancer, breast cancer, female infertility, and obesity. BPA is an especially dangerous endocrine disruptor since even small amounts of this chemical have been shown to cause serious reproductive damage, especially when the exposure occurs in utero.
- PVC – PVC, also known as polyvinyl chloride, or vinyl, is an incredibly toxic chemical that is harmful to our bodies and to the environment right from the production phase through to disposal. It contains additives like phthalates, lead, cadmium, organotin that are quite toxic and have been linked to asthma, allergies, reproductive problems and cancer.
- Formaldehyde – Formaldehyde is a known carcinogen and very low levels can irritate and burn the eyes, nose, throat, and skin. Those with asthma may have exacerbation of symptoms when exposed to formaldehyde.
- Flame Retardants – Flame retardant chemicals have been linked to endocrine and thyroid disruption, impacts to the immune system, reproductive toxicity, cancer and adverse effects on fetal and child development.
Resources for finding a babywearing group or consultant
- To find a group near you visit Babywearing International
- To find a personal consultant visit the Center for BabyWearing Studies
- For tips on how to wear your baby safely visit The Baby Carrier Industry Alliance
Our favorite baby carriers
When it comes to brands we know, trust and love, you simply can’t go wrong with baby carriers from:
Scroll down to see our Tot Tested and Approved models from each.
Available in more colors
Available in more colors
Available in more colors
Available in more colors
Erica Desper founded Confident Parenting in 2012, as a certified baby and child sleep coach and is an integral part of the Babytalk Team. Her sleep-saving approach and compassionate support has helped hundreds of families in and around the Philadelphia area and internationally to improve the quality of their families’ sleep. She is also a postpartum doula, infant massage instructor, babywearing educator and mom to son, Jaiden who, as an infant, was very good at crying and not very skilled in sleeping!
- Simple to start, easy to manage: Make your Tot Baby Registry today!
- What We’re Reading: 10 Common & Dangerous Car Seat Mistakes Parents Make