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What is Babywearing?

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  • Written By: B. Miller
  • Edited By: Lucy Oppenheimer
  • Last Modified Date: 26 December 2017
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Babywearing is a newer term for a common practice in the parenting community. It refers to carrying your baby in a sling on your day-to-day travels, as opposed to wheeling your child around in a stroller or carrying him or her in a more conventional baby carrier like a carseat. Babywearing can also refer to carrying your child in a soft baby backpack. The baby can either be positioned rear-facing, where the baby faces you, or front-facing, where the baby faces outward.

Slings are generally made of one long piece of stretchy cloth, which wraps around your body, waist, and shoulders, and then around the baby. In this way, your baby is kept close to your body while leaving your hands free to do other tasks. Most caregivers find this freedom of movement quite helpful.

Slings also allow the wearer to adjust the position of the baby depending on their needs. The baby can be carried lying down or in sitting position and either directly in front of the body or on the hip. Slings are also helpful for nursing since they can provide privacy and make breastfeeding more convenient. Additionally, some parents find babywearing to be more comfortable than carrying the baby in a carseat because the weight is more evenly distributed across the shoulders and back.

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Proponents of babywearing believe that carrying a baby in this way is helpful to the child developmentally. The baby is able to see more of the world and experience more human interaction because they are up closer to the action. This helps the child view facial expressions and hear people communicating with each other. Some parents also contend that carrying their baby in a sling makes him or her feel more secure and trusting which, in turn, helps him or her cry less and sleep better.

Some mothers feel that babywearing can be an extension of pregnancy and enjoy the opportunity it affords them in terms of keeping the baby close to their bodies. Of course, other members of the family, including the other parent, brother or sister, and grandparents, can also carry the child this way and experience a feeling of closeness. This too can help the baby feel loved and protected.

It is equally important to be safe if you decide to babywear. Always be cognizant of the baby's surroundings to be sure he or she cannot reach out and grab a hot drink or other dangerous item that is now nearby. If you are using a sling, make sure the sling is tightly knotted, and if you are carrying an infant in a sling, check often to be sure the baby's head is properly positioned. It is possible for the infant's head to turn into your chest, which could block his or her airway.

Of course, what works well for one child may not work for another. If you feel that babywearing is helpful and beneficial for your child and family, it can be an option, but remember, it is not the only option. Always feel free to try new methods.

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