Human babies are born to be carried. Especially in the first months after birth they have a profound need for physical closeness.
Giving birth is a significant experience for you. It also entails a great change for your baby! During pregnancy, your baby never needed to feel hungry and was always kept at just the right temperature. Your baby could sleep and be awake at will, hear your voice, your heartbeat and other familiar sounds and always feel safe and secure.
Carrying your baby close in a sling mimics the perfect environment during pregnancy and allows for a gentle transition from the womb to the world. Your baby continues to hear the safe sounds of heartbeat and voice and to smell familiar scents. Your movements will soothe and relax baby, making undisturbed sleep easy.1 A sling also gives security by tightly enclosing baby’s body, thus preventing reflexes (like the Moro reflex) and restlessness that could otherwise disturb sleep and calm moments.
Prolonged physical contact with your baby, especially during the first months after birth, will make it easier to get to know your baby’s wants and needs and how your baby expresses them. Carrying your child close will also help you to pick up early cues for baby’s needs and to respond quickly. This can prevent your child from needing to cry and save you and your family from stressful moments.
Carrying your baby in your arms or sling will help your baby to peacefully and comfortably transition to life outside the womb just as much as it will help you to adapt to the challenges of life as a parent and family.
Carrying your baby helps to form a secure attachment between parent and child. A secure attachment is one of the most important gifts you can give your child and yourself.
Babies are totally dependent on their caregivers. How babies’ needs are met and what kind of feelings they experience early in life will not only affect how they thrive and grow during the first months and years, it will also influence their confidence and well-being later in life.
Attachment describes the strong, emotional connection between child and caregiver, a bond that will last for a life time. A secure attachment, gained by close body contact and the affectionate meeting of baby’s needs, will allow children to thrive and to develop confidence and independence.
Unfortunately, the belief that babies need to be trained to early independence is still prevailing in Western societies. It is argued that if parents consistently meet baby’s needs for physical closeness, comfort and loving attention, this will lead to clinginess, spoiled children and therefore more problems for the family. But the opposite is true. Evidence shows that loving care and close contact will lead to a secure attachment, healthy child development and happier families
Carrying your baby facilitates close body contact and make responsive parenting easier, therefore helping to form a secure attachment between you and your child.
When carrying your child, challenging stairs, public transport, travels or rough terrain no longer pose a problem.
Have you enjoyed hiking through the wilderness before you became a parent? Did you love city trips? Or outings at the beach? There is no need to stop doing the things you love! Walking through woods on tiny trails, along sandy beaches or through snow are things you easily and enjoyably can do while carrying your child.
With your child close to you in a sling you don’t need to carefully choose your way, avoiding stairs and other obstacles a pram could not navigate. In cities, you won’t need elevators to reach subways or train stations and you will more easily find a place on public transportation.
While traveling abroad, carrying your child makes it much easier to navigate airports, train station and different transportation. Your comforting closeness will help your child to relax and deal with the stresses of traveling in the best way, allowing for easy sleep and peaceful moments despite new time zones and strange environments.
Carrying your child gives you the freedom to continue moving like you did before becoming parent; may it be at home, when visiting family and friends or on travels around the globe.
Carrying your baby helps you to manage everyday life, work, household chores and siblings without having to compromise baby’s needs.
It is not always easy to adapt to the challenges of being a parent. Baby’s needs for closeness and comfort, sleep and food have to be met at the same time as everyday commitments are craving attention. The task to combine those demands can understandably feel overwhelming.
When carrying your baby close to you in a sling, you will be able to move normally, to freely use both your hands and to accomplish tasks at the same time as your child’s needs for comfort and physical contact are met. This way, baby’s and your needs are respected and stressful situations can be avoided.
Carrying you child (or children) will also help you to meet the needs of siblings. It is a daunting task to make sure several children are happy and content and a sling will help you tremendously. When carrying your baby safely in the sling, you can turn your attention to big siblings, to play and spend time with together.
Carrying your child in a sling makes it possible to respect baby’s needs and daily rhythm while doing the things you need and love at the same time.
Babies can stay in their natural spread-squat position while being carried in a sling. For parents, carrying in a sling is ergonomic due to the even distribution of baby’s weight.
During the first few years of life, the body of a child goes through amazing changes. The helpless newborn turns into an active, crawling baby. Not much later, baby learns to stand up and turns into a walking toddler, curiously exploring the world.
The body of a newborn is not yet adapted to independent movement. Instead, baby’s feet, legs, hips and reflexes are adapted to being carried.7 Carrying your baby chest to chest in a sling supports baby’s natural spread-squat position with knees raised higher then bum and the legs approximately 90 degrees apart. This position is argued to be ideal for the healthy development of baby’s hip and research suggests that carrying has a positive impact on developmental hip dysplasia
Carrying your child in a sling distributes baby’s weight evenly around your torso and keeps baby’s weight close to your centre of gravity. Therefore, your muscles won’t need to work much to support your child, resulting in a very comfortable carry for you.
The comfort of a sling makes it possible to carry a newborn baby as well as a bigger child for long periods of time. Therefore, a sling can give you and your child many wonderful moments of closeness that will build and strengthen the bonds and the love between you.