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There are many variations of how to carry your baby. Some parents choose the traditional manual approach, while others don’t. For many parents, though holding their children close to them would be their preferred carrying method, certain circumstances can keep them from doing so. Physical pain and a busy life can keep parents from holding their children for long periods of time. If there are circumstances that keep you from holding your baby with traditional holding methods, that doesn’t mean that there aren’t alternatives! Baby wraps, or baby slings, are comfortable, simple to use, and they have many benefits that you probably haven’t thought of!
Physical pain is a leading reason why parents won’t be able to carry their babies for long amounts of time. Arm cramps and shoulder aches are real symptoms that can be very painful for a parent with previous pain or injuries to those areas of their body. And yes, though some parents muscle through bodily pain for the sake of carrying their children around, they may not be aware that there are other ways to carry newborns and older babies without causing damage to their muscles.
Babywearing can be a great alternative to carrying your child because of the biomechanics of the apparatus. In traditional carrying, parents can sometimes hunch over to support the weight of their baby, either on their hips or on their chest. With a baby wrap apparatus, the mechanics of the device fastens your baby to your chest and distributes the weight to be shared among your back, shoulders, and hips, evenly. This means that less stress can be focused on one part of your body, and you can carry your baby without causing yourself muscle spasms or back pain. Also, traditional methods of carrying your baby can cause spinal damage as well. By picking up and putting down your baby, you can actually cause more damage to your spine and back, than by simply wearing your baby.
Of course, the baby wraps can still cause some muscle pain, especially if you are carrying your baby for too long. Any extra weight that you carry has the potential to hurt your back, specifically if you are carrying a heavy baby (or you have a small or weakened frame). It is recommended to switch to back wearing after your baby has reached around 20 lbs in weight. By limiting the amount of time you carry your child in each position (back and chest wearing) hopefully, it will help lower the risk of lower back pain when you wear your baby.
One of the primary reasons why parents choose a baby wrap is that it can be useful for multitasking. For parents with multiple children, being able to carry the youngest child close, while playing around with the others can be beneficial. Having your child close and your hands free, can give parents the opportunity to complete other daily tasks, without having their hands full — literally! Multitasking can be beneficial for parents, especially those who live busy lives and multiple children.
It can be a bit difficult for parents to find a comfortable position for both themselves and their baby. Newborns can fuss, kick, and even accidentally scratch themselves with their fingernails if they are not bundled. With a baby wrap, your baby is swaddled tightly against your chest to keep them warm, cozy, and safe. Baby wraps allow your baby to feel comfortable and lulled by the sound of your heartbeat, which can replicate the feelings they had in the womb.
For many parents, having their newborn baby against their chest is one of the most comfortable positions. Postpartum mothers can benefit greatly by having their baby cradled up against them with skin-to-skin contact as well. Evidence shows that maternal contact with their newborn causes a release of oxytocin and reduces anxiety in both mother and child.
We have saved one of the best reasons for last! Skin-to-skin contact with your baby continues to prove beneficial for both parent and child. There have been studies conducted that show that skin-to-skin contact can be beneficial for breastfeeding, paternal-baby bonding, maternal-baby bonding, and birthweight.
Babywearing, or “Kangaroo Care,” was a common method to save premature babies in resource-poor hospitals that lacked enough incubators. Though this is a necessary method to help comfort and warm premature babies, full-term babies can benefit from skin-to-skin contact as well. Studies have shown that babies that have skin-to-skin contact can have improved sleeping patterns, breathing patterns, and temperature.
Skin-to-skin contact has shown that it can be beneficial for breastfeeding. How? Well, an incredible fact is that breasts will increase or decrease in temperature in response to your baby’s temperature. This is nature’s way of regulating your body to fit the needs of your baby and keep them warm and comfortable. As stated previously, skin contact can help release the hormone called oxytocin, which is responsible for milk ejection and has shown to help increase milk volume. Skin-to-skin contact has plenty of other benefits for breastfeeding, too! Interested? Read our blog on the topic, here.
Babywearing can have its benefits, especially if you are a busy parent that could use free hands! With the ability to keep your baby close, you can have the freedom to move about and carry your child in a way that isn’t taxing to your body. Though parents can choose any way to hold their children, it is nice to know that there are carrying options out there that can be beneficial for both parent and child!