There is no way to dispute the advantages of carrying a baby as often as possible. Babywearing is the best way to keep both mother and baby happy, while allowing for the tasks that women (and men) need to do while still caring for an infant. Along with making life’s tasks easier, babywearing has been proven to be good for baby, and mother, on a physiological, mental and physical level. The senses are constantly being ignited in this position. Babies can smell more clearly, see, feel, hear and even taste, if they are breastfed, while still in a carrier. Keeping their senses alive and aware is a very good thing for a newborn baby.
Mothers, who carry their babies closely, release more oxytocin when carrying their infants. This helps them to bond better with their babies and breastfeed with greater ease. It also lowers the chances of post-partum depression. Babywearing helps the baby to bond with the mother; making her/him feel safe, secure and protected. Babies who are carried are calmer, which leads to easier digestion and better respiratory function. They are used to the movement and rocking motion from being in the womb, safely enfolded within the mother’s body.
The next step, from the body to the arms is a natural progression from total needs being met, to as many needs as possible being met. In the womb, the babies are at a constant temperature that is perfect for them. They are satiated completely and never feel hungry, cold, or startled. Out of the womb, the next best place to be is right next to a parent’s heart, in their arms, warm, soft, secure and close enough to smell, see and touch. This close proximity is the best place for baby.
There will be plenty of time for the transition to more independence to occur, but the transition must be gradual. Think about a pregnancy, and how much time it takes to get used to the idea, the changes going on internally and the changes going on externally. These changes are gradual, and, thus, more easy to bear. Imagine waking up one morning 7-months-pregnant; ridiculous, right? Now, imagine being held for nine months, rocked gently in the waters of your mother’s body, and then being put in a separate container, alone, and confused. Abrupt is the best word to describe this. Abrupt is defined as, “sudden and unexpected, and brief to the point of rudeness; curt.” Who would want to be rude to a baby? No one.
Ultimately, one has to rely on instincts. The instinct to hold and cuddle a newborn is strong. The most important thing to remember is to trust those instincts. There have been generations of people who have worried that to hold the baby too much would spoil them. Who thought that one up? I think it was the spoiled people who were missing out on all the attention themselves that thought it up. I can remember a friend of mine visiting just after I had my first baby. She wanted a lot of my attention and resented immensely that in the middle of a conversation, I would pick up my “fussing” baby.
“Can’t you just leave that baby for a minute? I’m trying to talk to you.” She said. I felt momentarily guilty, and then went to pick up my baby. I have thought about that moment many times over the past 20 years. At first, I questioned myself, not sure if I had done the right thing. This friend came from miles away to visit with me, and she wanted my unswerving attention. But, then I realized something. There were two babies there, each wanting attention, and each needing it. My heart went out to this friend; the truth was that she had not had enough of that love and attention, but I did the right thing by not denying my own child that same affection.
As mothers we are often pulled in many directions, and constantly seeing to the needs of our babies can be a struggle. Wearing the baby in a carrier is one way to alleviate this struggle. It allows for the hands to be free, if needed, for hugging someone else, or just folding laundry. It allows the mother’s needs and the baby’s needs to be met instantaneously. Holding the baby close to the heart serves to nurture, soothe and calm both mother and baby. No place in the home, or around town, is as comfortable or secure as a mother’s arms. Carrying a baby is the best way to take care of them.