Monday, November 2, 2009

Pouch slings, ring slings, wraps and everything in between

One other facet I just love about our breastfeeding support groups is that I often have the privilege to introduce an already mother or expectant mother to the world of baby wearing. Even if the topic for that night has absolutely nothing to do with baby wearing,you bet I'm gonna bring my ring sling and pouch slings. I enjoy seeing the astonished looks on the women's and men's faces when they see something so simple yet something they never considered. In Aruba, we see mostly Chinese people carrying their children in this fashion. We look at them with sort of an odd look, giggle and discard that though... at least, that's what I thought of it.Then I had my daughter, and a horrible experience with those backpack type carriers from Baby Bjorn. Yes, they look super classy and sophisticated, they come in all colors too, but handy? No.. comfortable? No..Good for the baby's posture? Absolutely not! For more information on different types of baby carriers including the criticism of the Bbay Bjorn carrier go to my prior post on baby wearing.

Let's talk about some more benefits of wearing your baby and why you should encourage others, mothers and fathers alike, to wear their baby/toddler.

Benefits of babywearing 

Go to any of the numerous sites of baby wearing and you're sure to find at least one good reason to wear your baby. Here are a few;

  • Happy Babies. It’s true … carried babies cry less! In a study published in the journal Pediatrics, researchers found that babywearing for three hours a day reduced infant crying by 43 percent overall and 54 percent during evening hours. (1)
  •  Healthy Babies. Premature babies and babies with special needs often enter the world with fragile nervous systems. When a baby rides in a sling attached to his mother, he is in tune with the rhythm of her breathing, the sound of her heartbeat, and the movements his mother makes—walking, bending, and reaching. This stimulation helps him to regulate his own physical responses. Research has even shown that premature babies who are touched and held gain weight faster and are healthier than babies who are not. (2)
  • Confident Parents. A large part of feeling confident as a parent is the ability to read our babies’ cues successfully. Holding our babies close in a sling allows us to become finely attuned to their movements, gestures, and facial expressions. Every time a baby is able to let us know that she is hungry, bored, or wet without having to cry, her trust in us is increased, her learning is enhanced, and our own confidence is reinforced. This cycle of positive interaction deepens the mutual attachment between parent and child, and is especially beneficial for mothers who are at risk for or suffering from postpartum depression. (3) (4)
  • Loving Caregivers. Baby carriers are a great bonding tool for fathers, grandparents, adoptive parents, babysitters, and other caregivers. Imagine a new father going for a walk with his baby in a sling. The baby isbecoming used to his voice, heartbeat, movements, and facial expressions, and the two are forging a strong attachment of their own. Baby carriers are beneficial for every adult in a baby’s life. Cuddling up close in the sling is a wonderful way to get to know the baby in your life, and for the baby to get to know you!

  • Comfort and Convenience. With the help of a good carrier, you can take care of older children or do chores without frequent interruptions from an anxious or distressed infant—which helps to reduce sibling rivalry. Baby carriers are also wonderful to use with older babies and toddlers; you can save those arms and go where strollers can’t. Climbing stairs, hiking, and navigating crowded airports all can be done with ease when you use a well-designed baby carrier!

  • Wearing the premature infant
    A premature baby, especially one with medical problems needing weeks or months of intensive care, is deprived of those final weeks or months in the womb. Instead, baby must grow in an outside womb. The problem is that outside wombs are static. They don't move. Research has shown that a premature baby whose "womb" moves gains weight faster and has fewer stop-breathing (apnea) episodes. Specialists in newborn care have fabricated a variety of moving wombs, such as oscillating waterbeds.
    A group of newborn-care specialists in South America made an ingenious discovery. Some hospitals could not afford incubators and all the technology needed to care for prematures. They were forced to use the mother. These preemies were wrapped around their mothers in a sling like wrap, a custom called "packing." To everyone's amazement, the babies thrived as well as, or even better than, the technologically cared-for babies.
    The researchers concluded that the close proximity to mother helped the babies thrive. Being close to mother entices baby to feed more frequently. Mother's warmth kept the baby warm; mother's movement calmed the baby, enabling the baby to divert energy from crying to growing. Mother's breathing movements stimulated baby's breathing, so that these babies had fewer stop-breathing episodes. Mother acted as sort of a respiratory pacemaker for baby's breathing.
    As soon as a premature baby no longer needs oxygen and intravenous therapy and enters the growing phase, we encourage mothers to wear their babies as much as possible, a practice called "kangaroo care" .
  • Wearing the special-needs baby  Parents often spend more time and money on infant stimulation techniques and better-baby classes when the best stimulation available at the lowest possible cost is right in front of them—babywearing. The handicapped baby especially profits from being worn. Picture the stimulation baby gets: He hears what you hear, sees what you see, moves like you move, because he is near your eyes, ears, and mouth. Baby is in constant touch. Babies with cerebral palsy who arch and stiffen are greatly helped by babywearing. The contoured, bent position of the cradle hold and kangaroo carry competes with baby's tendency to arch backward, and lessens this annoying back- diving posturing.

  • Wearing your baby when travelingWearing your baby in a sling provides a safe, protective environment for baby when you are shopping or traveling in crowds. Walking through an airport with a toddler in toe is nerve-racking when you consider what could happen if you let go of his hand even for a moment (or take your hand off his stroller and get distracted). Between the ages of one and two, when the infant begins to walk, dart out from your protective arms, and explore the environment, babywearing keeps the toddler close to your side in any situation where a free-roaming toddler may not be safe. Have you ever noticed that a walking toddler's face is at the exact level that people hold their lit cigarette? Busy shoppers or travelers often don't watch out for little people. Bring your baby or toddler up to a safe level and relax—he won't go anywhere without you. With babywearing, transitioning (changing environments or going from wakefulness to sleep) is easier. While you are standing in line at the airport, a worn baby is safe, secure, and happy. If your baby fusses a bit on an airplane, wear her and walk around the plane so that she is attracted by the visual stimulation of the environment. When baby is ready to go off to sleep in a hotel room, wear her down in the sling until she falls asleep and then slip out of the sling and put the baby on the bed. Home to a baby is where mother and father are, and the sling is a constant reminder of baby's "home." It makes adaptation to new environments easier and travel more pleasant for the whole family

A friend of mine was recently introduced to baby wearing and loves it! She has an older child and an infant of a few months and enjoys wearing her baby very much. She has a problem though, her husband is against it. Like many parents and older ones in Aruba will tell you "No hisa e mucha cada biaha e yora y no wante muchu hopi paso bo ta bai malcri'e!" . Parents are discouraged from holding their babies, from wearing their babies, for fear that this may spoil them. I always rhetorically ask the parents, "when has a child ever been spoiled by being loved?". Is our society so heart hearted and cold that we worry about spoiling our children to the extent that we rather let them lay in their cribs and sob and cry their eyes out? Have we become so stoic to a baby's plea for attention that we refuse to hold them lest they "get accustomed to the arms"?. I feel repulsed at this thought.... Back to my friend's dilemma. Her husband also tells her, wear your baby? Ha! Wait you see, when the baby goes to day care, we'll see how much he'll be worn!. It's true, you're not gonna find any day care in Aruba that will wear any babies. That's a real shame but it's a fact. Does this mean that this mom's efforts to wear her baby whenever she can at home are futile because the baby will 'expect' to be held all day at day care? I don't think so! Saying that is like saying that you shouldn't bother changing a baby's poopie diaper right away because they won't change it right away in day care anyway! Does this reasoning make sense to you? It doesn't to me either..

When I go grocery shopping with my daughter in her sling, I feel good when people admire how beautiful the sling is, but especially when the Chinese women who own and work in the supermarket commend me for wearing my daughter, and then turn around to tell the other women working there how they too wore their children on their backs while they worked! They tell me "What you're doing is very good very good". It makes me feel good, not because I stand out but because these people have been wearing their children forever, and I bet it makes them happy to see the 'western' world finally catching up...

Here's a video on how to wear a baby in a sling, a wrap and how to nurse discreetly. Remember, baby wearing is a skill that is easily perfected with practice!

For more information go to these trustworthy sites

Ask Dr. Sears about baby wearing
The baby wearer

Some images courtesy: Google Images
Videos Courtesy : Youtube

    1 comment:

    1. hellow,i like your banding w/ your baby,,,,i like your post it is related of Elizabeth Wilcox
      and it is nice.

      Elizabeth Wilcox