You'll find this article and much more in the Nov/Dec 2009 issue of Pregnancy & Birth magazine – on sale now!
Go to many other countries around the world, especially those in Asia and Africa, and you'll find mothers carrying their babies in a sling or some type of baby carrier almost all the time. Here in the West we've chosen to embrace easy-to-use prams, but there's a growing movement back to the traditional way of transporting bubs — and there are plenty of good reasons why.
Your baby benefits
Supporters of baby-wearing believe that holding a baby in a sling or carrier creates a calm bub. Ingrid Heintz from minimonkeyaustralia.com.au explains why.
"The baby will feel secure and content, as baby-wearing enables the mother to be acutely aware of her baby’s signals and needs."
"She also says that carried babies fall asleep quickly and will usually sleep deeper and for longer periods of time in the comfort of their sling."
While this may all just sound nice in theory, there is actually solid research to back it up. A study reported in Pediatrics indicates that babies held in a sling cry 43 percent less during the day and 51 percent at night.
Your hands are free
Baby-wearing is an easy way for mums to get about with their babies, so they are more able to go shopping, run errands or just get outside into the fresh air without dealing with a bulky pram. "You can get things done and soothe your baby at the same time," says Ingrid. "Also, you can keep your baby close and happy while playing with your toddler."
It gets dads involved
The need for physical closeness between a father and his newborn can sometimes be overlooked, especially in those early weeks. Many dads find they love the close bond that baby-wearing offers. "That's why we developed the one size fits all Minimonkey baby sling so everybody can use the sling — mum, dad, grandparents," says Ingrid.
It makes you stronger
A concern amongst new mums is that may not be strong enough to carry a baby for long periods of time — but there's good news. If you do baby-wearing from the beginning, you core strength actually increases are your baby gets bigger.
It breeds independence
Some mothers may fear that holding or carrying their baby too often may make her become clingy, but Ingrid has found this is quite the opposite. "Babies worn in slings are less clingy and tend to initiate separation much earlier than babies less frequently held," she says.