Why International Babywearing Week Should Be Celebrated
When I grew up, babywearing wasn’t a thing. Neither my memory nor the scores of photo albums lining my parents’ bookshelves captured images of my mom with a baby strapped to her chest, tending easily to the rest of her brood while her youngest went happily along for the ride. In fact, the closest thing I remember to babywearing was my dad throwing one of us up in a carrier backpack. You know the ones - large, hulking, and a tangle of shiny metal and bright blue fabric.
Thankfully, the ancient practice of babywearing has made a resurgence in the Western world over the last several years, and with it has come a myriad of options beyond that monstrous blue backpack. And as more and more contemporary mothers have fallen in love with wearing their babies, there’s now even a week dedicated to celebrating the practice; International Babywearing Week is being held as we speak, running from October 2-8.
This year’s theme is “Threaded Together,” which is the perfect picture of the art of babywearing. From the agrarian mom around the globe for whom the practice has been seamlessly handed down through the generations to the urban mom just now rediscovering it, we’re all stitched together by a common thread - just like the threads of our chosen carriers.
International Babywearing Week is not only a time for celebration but also an opportunity to advocate for and educate the public on the benefits of breastfeeding. And as this infographic from Mom Loves Best outlines, the benefits are many.
Babywearing has been shown to facilitate weight gain in preemies. But even in full-term babies, the health benefits are plentiful. Wearing a baby can lead to reduced colic, and even non-colicky babies cry less. Reduced crying and better sleep correlate to a stronger immune system, which can help keep your baby healthy. It also allows mothers to keep their babies close, giving strangers less access and reducing the spread of germs and illness.
Babywearing promotes healthy physical development, too. With a well-designed carrier, a baby’s hips are held in a position that allows them to develop properly.
Babywearing helps mothers lose the baby weight more quickly, burning more calories than simply pushing a stroller. It also promotes good maternal mental health as it has also been associated with reduced incidents of postnatal depression, and also reduced feelings of guilt for those who do experience the condition.
Because of the close proximity between mother and baby, babywearing helps to strengthen the bond between mother and child. The mother can talk, sing, or snuggle the baby at her leisure when the baby is being worn. The baby also has more time to study their mother’s facial expressions and body language, improving their relational awareness as they develop socially.
Babywearing also promotes stronger relationships between siblings. Mothers who wear their babies have a greater capacity to tend to their older children since their hands are free, reducing the chance that siblings will feel jealousy toward the new baby or neglected as their mother is busy holding their infant brother or sister.
Freedom & Convenience
Hands down (or maybe hands up?), this is one of the best benefits of babywearing. A mother is able to maintain closeness and hold her baby while leaving her hands free to multitask. It’s also ergonomically efficient, using 16% less energy than the traditional method of carrying a baby in one’s arms.
Finally, babywearing makes breastfeeding easier on the go. Not only is the baby well-positioned to easily find the nipple, but a carrier also offers some privacy during nursing sessions in the absence of a nursing cover.
While babywearing was likely first born out of the need for a mother to free up her hands, it came with a whole host of inadvertent secondary effects that benefitted both mother and baby. This week, as we’re “Threaded Together” throughout the world by our individual choices to wear our babies, the world collectively benefits with healthier babies, healthier mothers, and stronger communities. This week, celebrate your own choice to wear your baby. Be proud of that decision. And tell others why it’s so great - so maybe they’ll make the same choice, too.
About the Author
Jenny Silverstone is the mother of two, a babywearing and breastfeeding advocate, and a mommy blogger. You can find her writing about her journey through motherhood on her blog - MomLovesBest.com.