Malta has recently put her best colours on and celebrated, for the first time ever, International Baby Wearing Week.
The purpose of International Baby Wearing Week is to raise awareness on a parenting practice that had long been forgotten in the Western world, but is now back in the spotlight. Maltamum is actively supporting this cause by organising a party on the 10th October at the Hotel Juliani in St. Julian’s.
Human beings all over the world have been traditionally carrying their infants for a very long time, and different experiences have shown that carrying has measurable and beneﬁcial effects on the physical and intellectual development of the infant. In other words, it’s vital for us to get back to basics and dig into the multitude of advantages for mother and child when practising safe, ergonomic baby wearing.
Worn babies are healthier
According to the World Health Organisation:
“Kangaroo mother care (KMC) is an effective way to care for a small baby […] who has no major illness. KMC enables warmth, breast feeding, protection from infection, stimulation, and love. […] Research has shown that for pre-term babies, KMC is at least as effective as incubator care. Small babies receiving KMC experience a shorter average stay in hospital compared to conventional care, have fewer infections, and gain weight more quickly, saving hospitals money and time and saving the family additional suffering.”
Worn babies cry 43% less
“Baby carrying strengthens the bond between you and your baby.” This is a statement you often hear from baby carrying advocates, be it experienced mothers, baby-carrying consultants or midwives. It really only takes one look at a calm secure parent and his/her quiet, relaxed, content and alert baby nestled a good baby carrier to instinctively sense that this statement is quite true.
Should I give ample physical contact to my baby, or should I leave him/her more or less physically separated from me, in the hope that this best fosters independence? Studies have shown that physical closeness facilitates your baby‘s transition to the outside world and stabilises the baby‘s heart rate and temperature. Babies who are carried cry an average of 43% less.
Worn babies are smarter
The baby’s brain grows and develops with the aid of environmental experiences. When a parent is baby wearing the little one, the infant intimately participates in daily activities, the nerves branch out and make new connections, and his/her developing brain stores a myriad of experiences. Baby wearing helps the infant’s developing brain make the right connections by filtering the external world through the reactions of the mother. Worn babies are more attentive, and click into adult conversations as if they were part of it. In opposition to this, when a baby is left alone, the various environmental sounds may be frightening.
Proper back and hip development
Most ergonomic carriers support the sitting position that a child instinctively adopts at birth and allow for the most natural development of the baby’s body. This goes for both soft-structured models, like the Ergobaby carriers, and slings or wraps.
When a child is born, its spine is still bent in a C-shape as it was in the womb, and the hip joints only mature after birth. Good ergonomic carriers support the baby’s back while adapting to its natural shape, thus allowing the body to develop at its own pace. In fact, not only do they help but they can also prevent hip dysplasia.
No ﬂat head syndrome
A newborn’s skull is soft and in a phase of growth during the first year. As a result, it can easily become deformed if the infant’s head is rested on the same side for prolonged periods. Vertical baby carrying can avoid this ﬂat head syndrome.
When babies are carried tight against their parent’s body, their own body adapts to the adult’s shape and senses their movement. Baby carrying therefore contributes to mobility development and to acquiring balance and walking rhythm.
No back pain for the mum
Most ergonomic carriers like the Ergobaby carriers are inspired by hiking backpacks, and feature a padded waist belt and padded shoulder straps which perfectly distribute the weight of the baby from your shoulders down to your hips. Indeed, the most ergonomic way to carry some weight is to carry it as close as possible from the body and as high as ⅔ of our size.
The belts on ergonomic carriers are usually sitting on the hip bones, the strongest part of the human body, which also happen to be situated more or less at ⅔ of our size. You can carry longer and heavier weights without feeling any back pain.
When your baby is cradled safely in the baby carrier, you don’t need to hold him/her and you have your hands free. Baby carrying allows parents to remain active while being in close contact with their baby. Some parents use carriers at home to do daily chores while baby is on their back sleeping. Some parents use it to travel or go shopping without having to bring the stroller around. Soft-structured carriers are light and foldable, and you can carry them around in case you need them.
Breastfeeding is facilitated because the baby is in direct contact with the mum. If you are using a soft structured carrier, you just need to enlarge the shoulder straps to position baby and you’re ready. Or, simply latch on the baby while using a sling.
Get back in shape
When the baby is carried correctly, swaddled against the adult, baby carrying strengthens the wearer’s back muscles which provides additional protection to the back. Baby carrying can help you to get back in shape faster while caring for your child.