Babywearing has been an aspect of parenting long before it became an asset of attachment parenting. It has been practiced for centuries around the world out of belief and necessity. Recently, it has been brought back into the limelight by parents looking to increase their relationship, and the development of their children. Not only is babywearing a form of transportation that brings you and your child closer together, it also offers practicality to parents.
Anthropologists and researchers alike have found that cultures and social groups who practice babywearing have children who cry less, learn more, and interject into society with greater ease than those left to fend for themselves. Western culture and medicine has led parents to believe that a lot of infant behaviors are inevitable and that no form of parenting can curb the difficulties of the first few years. Supplemental care or more specifically-carrying, can help your child focus on learning and offer them more humanized comfort than a crib filled with toys. This applies to travel and everyday life, as a sling for your child keeps the two of you in contact. A sling, leaves you with at least one arm to handle tasks and increases the practicality of taking your child with you. No strollers or heavy car seats, just you and your child.
1. Carried Children Cry Less. Parents who carry and practice attachment parenting commonly report that their children spend next to none of their time fussing or screaming. When you carry your child, they are close to the heartbeat they spent nine months listening to. They experience comfort and simple bonding that cannot be replaced by a comfortable crib. It also adjusts the response time of the parent, instead of waiting a few minutes before attending to the child, the problem is solved within seconds and both parent and child can move forward. Imagine for a moment that you are an infant, being left to your own devices in a brand new world is a very terrifying thought.
2. Speech Development Begins Earlier. Children who are carried by babywearing mothers and fathers, have a chance to intimately experience the exchange of language between their parents, friends, and family. Your child is given the opportunity to hear what you hear, and feel what you feel. This helps them to appropriately place visuals with emotional patterns. For example, when mom has fear in her voice, baby knows that that something is not right. Adversely, when baby hears mom laughing and sees her smiling, the child relates the current surrounding to positivity. These factors are a key element of speech development, as it begins relating the exchange of language to the child.
3. Carried Children Spend More Time Learning. Being rested against the mother or father’s body lends more contentment to the child. As I mentioned before, they are crying less. Crying and fussing less means more time to take in the world around them. The first few months are the optimal states of development for an infant to learn and excel. Because sling children are often more content then those who are not, they achieve a state of quiet alertness. During this quiet observation time, children have a chance to absorb and respond to audio and visual stimulants without fear. They are also given an opportunity to experience what the parent does on a daily basis, which is a potent stimulant for interpersonal and interactive bonding.
4. Carried Children are More Organized. Life inside the womb is organized. Your child felt your heartbeat, knew when you would eat, and recognized when you were resting. When birth occurs, the infant’s organized environment is temporarily disrupted. Any newborn has a desire and urge to become organized in order to fit in and be at comfort with their new environment. Without the regulating presence of mother’s heartbeat, walking rhythm, and voice, an infant will have a hard time dealing with his or her new environment and may respond by developing disorganized behaviors. Jerking movements, colicky cries, thumb-sucking and self-rocking are all tactics to feel like the child is still in the womb. If baby doesn’t have to worry about these simple and autonomic comforts, the child can begin to form habits that organize tasks and reactions in appropriate manners. A child who can be close to those self-calming attributes, doesn’t waste precious energy trying to get attention. Instead, this time is used to grow and develop.
Babywearing and slings are arguably the most essential aspects of attachment parenting. When your child is more involved in your world, they quickly want to find their way around it. Being in constant contact with parent(s) gives the child a feeling that everything is okay. Unknown sounds and activities will not frighten them, and everyday opportunities to learn will be at the forefront of their desires. With babywearing, your child intimately experiences everything you do, from washing the dishes to getting lunch. Children that are slung around their parents are more attentive, and are given every opportunity to grow and excel.
The list of benefits are endless in context to you and your child. Building comfort and encouraging learning, goes hand in hand with practical parenting. Babywearing also separates the parent from having to break ‘addictions’, or so to speak. A child who is carried does not need a certain toy, or a series of sounds to make it throughout the day. Worn children are content and happy, essentially because they are next to you! You are their parent, caretaker and first friend.
For great resources on attachment parenting, check out Dr. Sear’s books on attachment parenting, The Attachment Parenting Book : A Commonsense Guide to Understanding and Nurturing Your Baby and The Baby Sleep Book: The Complete Guide to a Good Night’s Rest for the Whole Family (Sears Parenting Library). Other great books attachment parenting is available on Amazon.com
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