Strollers appear to be heaven-sent for most caregivers. However, they could be denying your baby the best chance at healthy growth. Wearing a baby using a baby carrier has been shown to significantly contribute to their physical and emotional development.
As a caregiver, it’s normal to wonder if you’re giving the best care you can to your baby. While many parents, guardians or nannies get a lot of things right, wearing a baby is one of the very basic things that many people don’t realize is truly beneficial. You have probably noticed that seeing a caregiver with a baby stroller is the norm.
While most of these devices make caretaking a lot easier, sadly, they might not be in the best interest of your baby. The solution lies in an age-old method–wearing your baby close to you. There are many ways to achieve this, including using baby wearing slings, wraps, or carriers.
That said, there’s a common belief that laying your baby back-down is the best for their back. However, the contrary is true. Holding up your child has been observed by various studies to support the physical, emotional, and mental development of your baby. It has been shown that right from birth, closeness should be maintained between mother and child as often as possible for better health and development.
So, what are these benefits of wearing your baby?
Physical Benefits of Wearing Your Baby
Let’s look at some of the physical benefits your baby will get when you decide to switch the stroller for a baby wearing instead:
- It Exercises the Vestibular System
The vestibular system in the body is responsible for sensing the body’s movement and controls the sense of balance. In fetuses, it begins developing in the womb as a result of movements made by the mother. Wearing your baby helps with the development of this system, as the movements you make contribute to their vestibular system and motor development.
This system also has a role to play in visual and auditory alertness. When wearing a baby, they’re more alert compared to when they’re lying on their backs. Hence, they’re able to develop learning abilities early as well.
- Reduced Risk of Plagiocephaly
Plagiocephaly is a disorder where one area of a baby’s skull becomes flattened due to constant pressure. This is a common occurrence when a baby is left to repeatedly lie in one position, mostly on their back. Such a situation arises in instances where the baby is never worn, but instead placed in strollers, cots, or generally left in a lying position. To avoid plagiocephaly, it’s advisable to always wear your baby whenever you can.
- Healthy Spine Development
At birth, babies have two curves in their spines. One is found at the base, while the second one is located mid-back. The cervical spine begins to develop as the baby gains strength in the neck and starts to lift its head. As they begin to crawl, the mid-back section begins to grow too. It’s important during this process that the spine is not pressured in any way as occurs when a baby is left on their back for too long.
When you use a baby wearing wrap, however, there’s enough support for the back and neck, with the baby’s weight being distributed throughout the legs and hips. This ensures that their spine can develop into an s-curve in a healthy manner. But to be able to achieve this, you must maintain proper positioning when wearing your baby.
All About Proper Baby Positioning
There are two major mistakes that most caregivers make when wearing a baby. They are:
- They carry them too low.
- Their carrier, wrap, or sling is too loose.
These common mistakes don’t support good physical growth for the baby and can also be straining and distracting for their parent or guardian. So what IS the proper way to wear a baby? Here are three important tips:
- Always Ensure that the Carrier is Tight
By tight, we mean that there should be no space between your body and that of the baby. Most parents may fear that such a position puts pressure on the baby and is uncomfortable, but this is the recommended position. It also applies if you’re using a sling or the best baby wrap for summer.
Besides providing ample support for the baby’s body, a tight hold also ensures that you’re not restricted to make movements in the fear that they may slip out. It means that you will be able to do other activities while your baby remains secured and close to you.
- The Hip Belt Should Be on the Waist
If you’re using a carrier or a baby-wearing backpack, wear the hip belts around your waist. Not doing so will result in carrying the baby low, which is not safe for them. Besides, it can become tiring for you really quickly! This is due to the fact that their weight will be shifted to your shoulders, and soon enough, you may start to experience pain.
- The Head and Chin Position
Another position that you can refer to while checking whether you’re wearing your baby too high or too low is the distance between your chin and the top of their head. Their head should always be just below your chin so that you can easily kiss the top of it. Even as your baby grows older and bigger, any adjustments should always ensure that they maintain this position, even if it means that you need to tie the hip belt a bit lower.
Lastly, in terms of position, always make sure that the baby’s arms and legs are free. They should be at what’s known as the M-position, in which their knees are higher than the bottom. It should leave both legs spread wide open, which is good for their hip and spine development.
A Happy, Healthy Baby
Baby-wearing is not just a trend; it is highly recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics, too. In addition to the physical benefits of carrying a baby, it has also been proven that babies cry less when they’re held more. A relaxed baby makes a happy caregiver, so don’t hesitate to carry your little one as often as possible.
Another plus of keeping your baby close to you is that they can bond with you. In the long run, it helps them to become independent at a young age as they’re able to form secure attachments.
Do you think that carrying your baby has made it easier for you to take better care of them? Also, have they responded differently to being placed in a stroller?