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Babywearing, the practice of carrying baby in a soft carrier close to our body as we go about our daily business, is parenting's best kept secret. Good things happen when we wear our babies. Babies who are worn cry less, are more calm and content, sleep more peacefully, nurse better, gain weight better, enjoy better digestion and develop better.
Using a baby sling can make life easier for you and is very good for your baby. Below are some of the advantages of "wearing" your baby (from The Baby Book by William and Martha Sears):
It's convenient. You can breastfeed discretely in a sling while working, getting things done around the house, shopping or eating in a restaurant. If you have a baby who wants to be held all the time, this is an easy way to meet her needs while doing other things.
It helps moms care for older siblings. Carrying your baby in a sling can give you the mobility to care for your older children.
It helps some babies to breastfeed better. Some babies, particularly those who are tense or tend to arch their backs, breastfeed better while moving. Also, babies who are slow to gain weight (for no apparent reason) have been known to gain better if carried in a sling for several hours a day, since proximity to mom encourages babies to eat more frequently.
It reduces crying and colic. A 1986 study of 99 mother-infant pairs (reported in Pediatrics) showed that carrying babies at least three hours a day reduces crying and fussing 43% during the day and 51% at night. Babies are happier because they have less need to cry, and parents enjoy their babies more as a result.
It enhances learning. Carried babies have enhanced visual and auditory alertness, and increased "quiet alertness" times. Carrying a baby promotes cognitive development and speech development, since babies are exposed to more experiences and conversations.
Carried babies are involved in their parents' world. They participate in life, rather than see it as a spectator.
Carrying your baby promotes bonding and enhances parents' feelings of competence. A higher frequency of feeding and touching stimulates mothering hormones, and frequent carrying encourages and speeds the development of a mutual reading of each other's cues.
Finding a carrier that is right for you
There are many types of baby carriers. These include adjustable slings with rings (these come padded or unpadded), pouch slings that are not adjustable, asian-style carriers, and wraps that simply tie on.
Look at photos of the different types, and, if possible, try on several different types, brands and sizes of baby carrier to see which suits you best.
Below are some pictures of me and my son's father wearing a sling. Every woman is different and there are a huge variety of slings out there. I wanted to tell you what did work for me and my baby and which ones are my favorites. I also wanted to include a selection of baby slings, to help you make your decission easier. As you can see, I include a detailed information about the many different slings and included pictures for you to see how you can "wear" your baby.
This picture is me 10 years ago...))) yeah, time goes so fast. I cannot believe that was me 10 years ago. LOL
In this picture, I'm using the Native Sling. This one is far my favorite. I use it until my son was 1 year old. Our son loved this sling, it was putting him inside, and he did fall sleep instantly. I used to carry him all day with me. When I clean the house, do shopping, gardening. He was safe and always close to me, I love it and he love it. You and your baby, will love it too.
After that, I used the Over the Shoulder baby sling. Which is the one you can see, below. It is great for older children and easy to use for Moms and Dads. In this picture, you can see my son's father, carrying Kamal at the age of 17 months old. The connection and bond that develops between fathers and sons using a sling, is far closer than fathers who don't carry their baby using a sling.
When we carry a baby in a sling, we can walk around freely and not have to worry about negotiating steps, crowds or narrow aisles with a stroller. Plastic "baby buckets" and removable car seats are heavy and awkward for parents, babies often look uncomfortable, and they are kept at knee level. A sling can block out excess stimuli when breastfeeding a distractible baby, and it allows for discreet nursing in public places. A sling can also double as a changing pad, blanket, or cushion when away from home. I've found my sling especially handy when negotiating busy airports with a small child and several bags!
2. Wearing a baby promotes physical development.
When a baby rides in a sling attached to his mother, he is in tune with the rhythm of her breathing, the sound of her heartbeat, and the movements his mother makes – walking, bending, and reaching. This stimulation helps him to regulate his own physical responses, and exercises his vestibular system, which controls balance. The sling is in essence a "transitional womb" for the new baby, who has not yet learned to control his bodily functions and movements. Research has shown that premature babies who are touched and held gain weight faster and are healthier than babies who are not1. Mechanical swings and other holding devices do not provide these same benefits.
3. Babies worn in slings are happier.
Studies have shown that the more babies are held, the less they cry and fuss2.In indigenous cultures where baby-wearing is the norm, babies often cry for only a few minutes a day – in contrast to Western babies, who often cry for hours each day. Crying is exhausting for both the baby and his parents, and may cause long-term damage as the baby's developing brain is continually flooded with stress hormones.3 Babies who do not need to spend their energy on crying are calmly observing and actively learning about their environment. Baby-wearing is especially useful for colicky babies, who are far happier being worn, but placid, content babies and children will also benefit greatly from the warmth and security of being held close.
4. Baby-wearing is healthy for you!
It can be challenging for new mothers to find time to exercise, but if you carry your baby around with you most of the day or go for a brisk walk with your baby in her sling, you will enjoy the dual benefits of walking and "weightlifting". A long walk in the sling is also an excellent way to help a tired but over-stimulated child fall asleep.
5. Toddlers appreciate the security of the sling.
Slings are usually associated with infants, but they can be very useful for toddlers as well; most slings accommodate children up to 35 or 40 pounds. The world can be a scary place for toddlers, who feel more confident when they can retreat to the security of the sling when they need to do so. Toddlers often become over-stimulated, and a ride in the sling helps to soothe and comfort them before (or after!) a "melt-down" occurs. It can be very helpful in places like the zoo, aquarium, or museum, where a small child in a stroller would miss many of the exhibits.
6. Baby-wearing helps you and your baby to communicate with each other.
The more confidence we have in our parenting, the more we can relax and enjoy our children. A large part of feeling confident as a parent is the ability to read our baby's cues successfully. When we hold our baby close in a sling, we become finely attuned to his gestures and facial expressions. Many baby-wearing parents report that they have never learned to distinguish their baby's cries – because their babies are able to communicate effectively without crying! Every time a baby is able to let us know that she is hungry, bored or wet withouthaving to cry, her trust in us is increased, her learning is enhanced, and our own confidence is reinforced. This cycle of positive interaction enhances the mutual attachment between parent and child, and makes life more enjoyable for everyone.
7. Slings are a bonding tool for fathers, grandparents, and other caregivers.
Slings are a useful tool for every adult in a baby's life. It makes me smile when I see a new father going for a walk with his baby in a sling. The baby is becoming used to his voice, heartbeat, movements and facial expressions, and the two are forging a strong attachment of their own. Fathers don't have the automatic head-start on bonding that comes with gestation, but that doesn't mean they can't make up for this once their baby is born. The same goes for babysitters, grandparents and all other caregivers. Cuddling up close in the sling is a wonderful way to get to know the baby in your life, and for the baby to get to know you!
8. Slings are a safe place for a child to be.
Instead of running loose in crowded or dangerous places, a child in a sling is held safe and secure right next to your body. Slings also provide emotional safety when needed, so that children can venture into the world and become independent at their own pace.
9. Slings are economical.
Slings cost far less than strollers, front-carriers or backpacks. Many mothers consider the sling to be one of their most useful and economical possessions. Inexpensive used slings can be found in consignment and thrift stores, and new ones can be bought for about $25 -$50 (U.S.) - not bad for an item many parents use daily for two years or more! A sling can also be sewn for the price of a length of cotton, some rings and batting; sling patterns are available.
10. Baby-wearing is fun.
Who doesn't love to cuddle a precious little baby? And when your baby is older, having her in the sling makes conversations easier and allows you to observe her reactions to the wonders of the world around her. It's also fun for baby, because when she is up at eye level, other adults notice and interact with her more. Your child will feel more a part of your life when she is in her sling, and you will find yourself becoming more and more enchanted with this special little person.
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