The concept of babywearing is certainly not new; for centuries, mothers and fathers have carried their little ones from birth through toddlerhood as a natural way to continue the bond cultivated in the womb.
From the moment a baby is born, its need for skin-to-skin contact is crucial. The sound of mom’s heartbeat, vibrations of her breathing and warmth of her skin are all part of baby’s gradual transition to the great, big world.
Often called kangaroo care, because of the way it mirrors how kangaroos carry their young, there are many benefits to babywearing beyond the comfort of holding your little one close.
Enhanced development in addition to more long-lasting effects like better sleep and reduced anxiety in young adulthood, are all attributed to being carried as infants.
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“Infants who are carried tend to cry less,” says Dr. Amanda Weiss Kelly, a mother and pediatric sports medicine physician with Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital in Cleveland, OH.
According to a study published in Pediatrics, babies who were carried for three hours per day cried 43 percent less than those who weren’t. Experts also recommend babywearing as treatment for plagiocephaly, commonly known as flat head syndrome.
Fortunately, wearing your baby has been made easier and more comfortable by the evolution of hands-free baby carriers.
Today, there are many makers of baby carriers, like BABYBJÖRN, a family-owned Swedish company founded in 1961. Each of the company’s carrier designs were the result of the collaboration between physicians and parents, taking years of testing and fine-tuning before going to market.
As a new parent, selecting a baby carrier can be daunting due to the overwhelming selection. By evaluating a product’s safety, comfort and versatility, you can select the best carrier to suit your needs.
Any product designed for baby should meet the most rigorous safety standards. Check manufacturers’ websites for specific product and safety information.
Was the carrier developed in partnership with physicians to provide proper support for mom/dad and baby?
Are its fabrics certified to be free of harmful chemicals?
“Compared to carrying the child in a car seat, there may be less stress on the parent’s shoulders and back when using a carrier,” says Dr. Kelly.
Look for carriers that evenly distribute the baby’s weight across your hips, with padded straps for extra comfort and support.
Select a carrier that can grow with your child.
Carriers like BABYBJÖRN’s Baby Carrier One can be used from newborn through 3 years old. This carrier allows for multiple carrying positions, including inward- and outward-facing, and can easily transition from a front to back carrier, so you won’t need to upgrade to accommodate your child’s changing weight and carry preferences.
Once deciding on a carrier, try using it for the first time in the comfort of your home.
Read the instructions, which will include important safety information. You’ll want to get comfortable putting the carrier on and off, adjusting the straps and generally familiarizing yourself with its features. Once you’ve securely nestled your baby into the carrier for the first time, you can begin to enjoy the benefits and closeness that are a part of the babywearing experience.
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