Did you know the average Western newborn is held for less than two and a half hours per day (1)?
The convenience of strollers, capsules and play gyms have resulted in a convenience where our babies aren’t getting the physical touch they instinctively crave. Being carried or worn in an upright position with proper leg support is not only developmentally sound but the preferable way to bring the baby along with you throughout your day. Upright carrying optimizes the physical, emotional and intellectual growth of your baby.
Babywearing- why has it been given such a bad wrap?
Babywearing has been given a bad wrap in the past.
In 1928, famous behaviourist Dr Watson claimed that by holding, cuddling, kissing and rocking a baby, mothers were making their babies clingy and dependent. Babywearing contradicted his efforts to create independent, strong and tough babies and was shunned by professionals. He claimed that babies were born in a ‘blank state’ rather than instinctively craving touch. So many of our grandparents and parents were influenced by this mechanistic train of thought, pressured by the experts to believe that if they picked up their babies when they cried that they would create a tyrant of a child and become enslaved.
Evolutionary need for touch
Babies have an instinctive need for touch. Upright on their mother's body, the two create a rhythm together, physically and psychologically and moving together in sync. Even the most state of the art strollers can't provide the warmth that a mother‘s body does, her comforting smell, the varied movement, and the sensitive motherly responses that are so essential to her baby‘s healthy growth and development, especially during such a critical period when his brain is growing more than any period in his life. No toys can match the joy that an infant gets from his mother‘s face.
Even though most Western parents cannot conceive of life without a stroller, they are not as gentle on an infant to as we assume them to be. Placing an infant alone on his back for long periods of time is not what we as humans are hard-wired to expect. Laying horizontally in early infancy is not easier or less stressful on an infants’ spines, skulls, or necks.
Working against Gravity
As your infant works against gravity, their muscles start to develop. Strong neck muscles help an infant hold up a heavy head- forming the neck (cervical) curve of the spine.
Not only is spending most of the day flat on your back bad for your hips but infants who lie frequently on their backs in a stroller may end up with plagiocephaly (deformed skulls, ﬂattened on the back or side) and deformed bodies with poor muscle tone (2).
Needing more reasons?
Babywearing has been linked to better respiratory patterns in infants (especially with premature babies), fewer ear infections, an increased sense of security and better balance. Laying babies flat on their backs in a stroller is actually not easier on their necks, spines, hips, or their minds. Nature intended for babies to be carried.
- Heller, S. (1997). The Vital Touch: How Intimate Contact With Your Baby Leads to Happier, Healthier Development. Holt Paperbacks.
- Bonnet, E. (1998). In points made during discussions regarding the carrying of infants and small children. Published in Krankengymnastik 50 Jg (1998) No. 8.