Monday, September 28, 2009

The benefits of Baby Wearing

This year and the one before has been of much experimental gain. Why? Well, last year my daughter was born and I was a young mother of 19 years. I was well educated by lots of reading and interacting with Birth Professionals before and after my daughter's arrival. I had attended a formal Childbirth Education Class which included breastfeeding classes. Through all of this, I learned about baby wearing to some extent. So, I went out and got myself a nice expensive baby carrier from Baby Bjorn. I had vaguely seen those other sling things but I remember thinking that it looks so buchi cunucu-ish. I wanted this "high performance" and sophisticated thing that attached my baby to me and made her look like a front pack. Little did I know...

I did learn later that those buchi cunucu slings and wraps are ten octillion times better, more effective, prettier and not cumbersome. So I did purchase one, actually two. It started out like this, I thought, oh how cute, I will order two types of slings and see which has more appeal to mothers here in aruba and I will sell it to them. I ordered a black Maya ring sling
and a pouch sling from Slinglings ( they're cool because if you send them your photo of you wearing your baby in their sling, they put it on their site!) I tried both of them out with my then 14 month old daughter. You should have seen me trying to decipher those things, I looked like a chimp with a remote. HA! Generally though, it just took some short practice sessions and it was a breeze slipping my daughter in and out of the ring sling. what was so nice about this particular type of sling was that, the piece of fabric that remains dangling, can be used to nurse discreetly in public. AND it has a little pocket with a zip. However, upon the arrival of my slinglings sling, I chose that one in favor of the ring sling because my daughter namely went in the hip carry position in which a pouch sling is very accommodating and simple.

So..why all this fuss about wearing our babies and children? What's so great about looking like a chiney (in aruba, Chinese people almost always wear their children). There are many many benefits of wearing our children and not so many disadvantages.

Here are a list of some of the benefits of baby wearing from

Babywearing's great for you:

* Cook dinner during the "arsenic hour" and soothe your baby at the same time
Do the gardening, chores, socialise, even dance, while providing a stimulating learning environment for your baby
* Breastfeed hands-free while on the phone or shopping
* Keep your baby close and happy while playing with your toddler
* Get some exercise (walking) while your baby sleeps
* No need to lug around an awkward, heavy carseat, or battle getting a stroller into your car, onto a bus or up stairs.

* Babies cry less. Research has shown that babies who are carried cry (on average) 43% less overall and 54% less during the evening hours (1). In cultures where babies are carried almost continuously, babies cry much less than those in non-carrying cultures (2-6).
* Good for baby's mental development. Babies spend more time in a "quiet, alert state" when carried - the ideal state for learning. Their senses are stimulated while being carried (yet there is a place to retreat too). When carried, your baby sees the world from where you do, instead of the ceiling above his crib or people's knees from a stroller. And the extra stimulation benefits brain development.
* Good for baby's emotional development. Babies are quickly able to develop a sense of security and trust when they are carried. They are more likely to be securely attached to their care-giver/s (7) and often become independent at an earlier age (8).

* Good for baby's physical development. By being so close to your body's rhythms, your newborn "gets in rhythm" much more quickly. Your heartbeat, breathing, voice and warmth are all familiar. Research has shown how this helps newborns (especially premature babies) to adapt to life outside the womb (9).
* Good for babies whose mums are depressed. Babies who are not held need more verbal interaction and eye contact, just to be reassured that you're there. Carrying your baby is a great way to connect with her (and provide stimulation too) without the "burden" of having to interact (10). Of course your baby is "right there" to enjoy whenever you feel like snuggling, kissing or talking.

So after the why's of babywearing let's talk about the how's and which

There are generally Four types of baby wearing devices which are namely :


*Pouch Slings

*Ring Slings

*Back Pack Carriers and Front carriers

So which one of the pantheon of slings should a mom choose? Well, it really depends on what your needs are. Are you a mom with a young infant that nurses often in public and wish to be discreet about it? A ring sling is perfect for you with it's extra piece of fabric to help cover up

Or maybe you're a busy mom with two/three children and a baby who needs some hands free baby loving, a pouch sling is ideal then, no rings, no extra fabric.

Or are you a busy on the go-go mom with a social life that includes your baby/toddler? A pouch sling is ideal because some of them can hold up to 35 lbs.! It's easy to fold and shove in your bag. It's simple to just pop your baby or toddler in and out. Best of all, it's easy to just put the baby in the cradle carry position and nurse without anyone even knowing!

Ideally, I recommend a wrap for newborns and very young infants because of how snug and secure your baby is nestled against you. However, once that phase is passed and your child can sit and walk good, a pouch sling is a simple solution.

Where the back pack and front carriers are concerned, I would not recommend them for two reasons. The first one being is that when a baby's legs dangle down, it puts undue strain on the infant's back and can be detrimental to the posterior structures of the spine. In rare cases the baby may even develop Spondylolisthesis. Second, experts recommend that if you do use these types of carriers, that you wait until the child is able to sit and walk well,however, since my experience with the Baby Bjorn carrier, I stopped ranting and raving about how superior it is to the buchi cunucu pieces of fabric called slings. You'll note that once the baby starts putting on weight, around 12-15 lbs, it is no longer pleasurable to keep the baby in the carrier because of the bad back ache you're gonna get. So then you're back to square one. So...? Skip it altogether..

Here locally, in Aruba, a friend of mine nurtured a wonderful idea and is turning it into a reality. The founder of Arawak Mums has some massive sewing experience and ability and a new found love for these things. So, she set out to make slings (and nursing covers mind you!) more widely available here in Aruba. Her prices are very reasonable compared to the whopping 175 Afl,- you'll pay for a ring sling here, that costed you 60$ on the internet! Her patterns are fresh and of great quality. I highly suggest you look Bethsarim Van Koetsveld-BriƱez up on facebook or look up Arawak Mums on Facebook and put your order in!

Lastly but certainly not least, in Aruba, they like to advocate separation. You'll always hear people saying in almost an accusatory tone that by holding the baby so much you'll spoil him!!! But this is not a fact. This is a complete myth. That view is so deeply entrenched that when I was in the hospital after giving birth the day before, I was cuddling with my not even 24-hour-old newborn and having skin-to-skin contact, the nurse walks in and goes, "My my, keep on holding that baby like that and you'll certainly have a spoiled child on your hands". I was so offended. But I knew she spoke out of tradition and wrongly held views. Wearing your baby a lot, maximizes bonding, while giving you hands free time, come on, who doesn't NEED that?? We're all busy stay-at-home/working moms with stuff to do. Yet, we know that a baby will develop better if it's carried rather than placed in a swing or a stroller. Another misconception is that wearing or holding a baby too much will make them clingy, too dependent children. This is an outright lie. Many a mothers note that the babies they wore the most grew up to be their most independent and free spirited children! So, with this I'll leave it up to you mothers/fathers.


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