In our modern “convenience” culture, there is more car seat carrying of babies than baby wearing. Contemporary designs have made it incredibly easy for parents to transport their child in a car seat – from house to car, to multiple destinations and back home – without ever having to move baby. But, your baby’s body was made to move! Remember that even before birth, babies are moving in the womb. After birth, babies want to learn how to manage their incredible bodies. A baby’s quest to move is critical to their health and development, so parents should encourage and facilitate movement in every way. The best way to begin is by wearing your baby instead of carrying her.
Baby wearing is an excellent way to optimize the
structural, neurological, physiological and emotional development of your baby.
When a baby is worn properly, his postural muscles get stronger, he learns to hold his head up, and his nervous system development is enhanced. Babies worn by their parents or caregivers are in a better biomechanical position for spinal and muscular development, and gravity helps in the development of postural muscle tone.
In contrast, when babies lay flat on their back in a car seat for a prolonged amount of time, babies can develop plagiocephaly (or flattening of the bones of the skull) causing deformation. It can also affect strength, muscle tone, biomechanical and neurological development of your child. Shorter amounts of time in a car seat will not lead to drastic changes, but limiting car seat time is best. When you get out of the car have a wrap, sling, or soft structured carrier ready to go. This way you can keep hands free and give support to your little one’s developing body. When you arrive home or at grandma’s house, have a blanket to lay your baby on. Baby can then experiment with movement – learn to roll over, crawl, hold their head up and strengthen their muscles and coordination.
When your baby is being worn there is constant movement in all directions which enhances brain development.
Baby wearing gives continual input into the baby’s vestibular system (the balance centers in the brain). This movement builds neurological pathways and builds tone of core musculature and spinal muscles which give the body the ability to balance, coordinate, and stabilize.
Wearing your baby also provides the best way for them to see, hear and interact with the world around them. Baby can look at colors and movements, watch social interactions between their parents and others, and see facial expressions during conversation while feeling safe and secure close to mom or dad. This input has a profound effect on your baby’s brain, enriching his life experiences and stimulating brain development. In contrast, when a baby spends prolonged time in a car seat it is very difficult to see much of the world around; they see only what they are in front of.
When your baby is close to you it helps regulate
breathing rate, heart rate, body temperature, emotions, and stress levels.
Moms and Dads who wear their babies nurture a deep and lasting bond with their children.
Babies confined to extended time in car seats are learning sedentary habits because a car seat restricts movement for babies. So, instead of experimenting with movement, babies who are confined are more still – with their muscles passive rather than active. In contrast, babies who are worn are more free to experiment with movement which enhances activity through early childhood and beyond, providing a hedge against obesity.
Encouraging Your Toddler To Walk
When babies become young toddlers, parents can use backpacks to carry them when needed. This keeps baby close to Mom or Dad, gives them a great view of the world around them, and keeps them moving. Avoid using strollers whenever you can. Certainly they are needed sometimes, such as when families are walking long distances with a toddler or young preschooler. But, when possible allow your child to walk. They will get more exercise and be able to interact with the world around them which enhances social, emotional and intellectual development.
Walking also helps children develop a sense of
personal responsibility, importance and strengthens their confidence and self-esteem.
I know it is challenging to manage a preschooler who wants to explore at the store – I’ve been there! But, take time to teach your little one how to manage their world in appropriate ways. It takes patience but they will improve!
So, consider the ancient art of wearing your baby, and keep your toddlers and preschoolers moving too. You and your little ones will be healthier for it!
Thank you to Doreen for this insightful information on the benefits of wearing baby.
The Best Baby Carrier, Baby Wrap or Baby Sling for Baby Wearing
There are different types of baby carriers: ring sling, soft structured baby carriers, woven, stretchy wraps. And there are several brands to choose from: Ergo Baby Carrier, Moby Wrap, Baby Bjorn, Infantino baby carrier and others.
At The SafBaby Shop, our goal is to carry products that adhere to the highest standards possible. This is why we carry only GOTS-Certified baby carriers.
When certified by the Global Organic Textile Standard, a product is more than just made from organic cotton. From seed to consumer, the product is made in an environmentally-responsible and socially-just manner. Importantly, being GOTS-certified means that the long list of toxic chemicals that are normally used to make textile products are banned. A GOTS-certified product is third-party certified to be free of toxic residues which is important to consider given a baby’s delicate and more permeable skin. (See “How to Know if Organic Clothing is Also Chemical-Free” and “Better Than Organic Baby Clothes? Clothing Baby and Child in the Purest.”)
New moms always have lots of questions about the pros and cons of baby wearing, not just about baby-wearing newborns but also the benefits of baby-wearing a toddler. For example:
Can baby-wearing cause hip dysplasia?Can I carry my baby facing forward?How long can you carry a baby in a carrier?How does the stretch of the fabric affect baby wearing?Will my baby be too hot or too cold in a carrier?Can I breastfeed baby while in a wrap?
All of these questions and many more are answered in The SafBaby Shop. Click on either of the carriers below and scroll down to the tab section for a goldmine of information about baby carriers: the benefits of baby wearing, ergonomically correct positioning, baby wearing safety tips, instructions and FAQs.
Both of these carriers will last from newborn until the time your baby is a toddler.
About Doreen Bolhuis
Doreen Bolhuis is the President/CEO of Gymco Inc., a multi-sport facility for children in its 31st year of operation in Grand Rapids, MI. Doreen is the creator of Gymtrix, an innovative DVD series to teach physical literacy for babies through age 10. She is a co-founder and partner of Motion Evolution, a licensed national fitness and physical literacy program for children. Doreen’s passion is advocating healthy lifestyles and fighting obesity by empowering parents to create active kids from infancy.
Doreen holds a B.S. degree in Physical Education, Health and Recreation. She has over 35 years experience teaching locally, nationally and internationally and is currently an adjunct professor for Aquinas College in the department of Health and Physical Education. Doreen has appeared in local, national and international media (CNN, The Today Show, Good Morning America, The N.Y. Times) as a guest expert in Physical Literacy. Doreen is a former elite level gymnastics coach and member of the Junior Olympic Committee for USA Gymnastics.