Editor's note: This article was originally published on Katie Clark's blog, Clarks Condensed. It has been republished here with permission.
Babywearing was one of my favorite things I did with Jack, and it's something I really believe in now. It's probably about as "crunchy" as I get, but I think there are so many benefits. I actually am sad that Jack has passed the babywearing stage (though my current carrier goes up to 35 pounds — he just doesn't want to be in it) because it was such a wonderful experience. I had no idea what babywearing even was before I had Jack, and I was introduced to it as I read different parenting forums on Baby Center. I made my baby wrap when I was pregnant, and I used it daily.
After Jack outgrew it, I tried a variety of other carriers, and I really came to love the practice. As such, I've researched it quite a bit, and I really love promoting it to other moms. While some people don't want to do it (and that's totally fine!), I highly recommend considering it. Babywearing has been around for centuries!
1. Security and closeness
Soon after Jack was born, I remember hearing the "nine months in, nine months on" philosophy. Basically, your baby is in the womb for nine months — constantly with you, warm, compact. Then, when they are born, they are suddenly put into this huge, open space and they aren't always close to you. The "nine months on" idea encourages you to wear your baby for at least nine months, to help ease your child into the world, yet help them still feel close and secure with you.
2. Promotes physical development
Have you ever heard of flat head syndrome? It's pretty common nowadays. A lot of it can be attributed to parents being encouraged to put their babies to sleep on their back, but it can also happen when a child's head is on the ground, against a swing, in a car seat, etc., for extended periods of time. While I definitely used a play mat, a swing and a car seat, I wore Jack even more, which kept his head away from a flat surface. It keeps their heads off hard surfaces like the ground, swings, car seats, etc., which sometimes leads to flat heads. Babywearing is also good for hip development as long as you are carrying your baby in a good position.
Something I found to be fascinating about babywearing is that it can actually help prevent or treat postpartum depression. While I didn't suffer from postpartum depression (just prenatal depression), there were times that I felt stressed, overwhelmed and a little bit sad. Chances are, you will too. However, when I would wear Jack, it would always lift my mood. I've also read many stories, and even read research, about how it's linked to helping with postpartum depression. Babywearing is also great exercise! It's like carrying around a 7- to 30-pound weight all the time.
When your baby is so close to you, you are able to interact with him easier. Whenever I wore Jack, I would talk to him constantly — explaining to him what we were doing, where we were going and just telling him different stories. While I'll admit Jack does have some speech problems, he is very good at communicating what he wants, and has from a very young age. Communication isn't just done verbally but through physical and emotional cues, hand motions and more. Babywearing can help you connect with your baby and learn those cues.
Not only is it a great bonding tool for mother and baby but for fathers, grandparents and other caregivers. I LOVE when I see dads babywearing, and I think it's a great way to bond with your child. They are close to you, you can talk with them, learn their cues easier, and just feel closer over all.
7. Inexpensive investment
Babies have a lot of gear — strollers, car seats, cribs, swings, bouncers, etc. And while many of them are nice to have for a few months, they sometimes outgrow it. While baby carriers don't last forever, they can last a very long time — some can be used from newborn to age 3! While you'll usually pay between $50 and $150 for a good one, it's definitely an investment worth making.
8. Cry less
Jack had a lot of digestive problems, along with acid reflux, which resulted in a lot of crying. However, almost without fail, when I would put him in my wrap, he would calm down almost instantly. This seems to be the case for a lot of babies that are worn — some research shows that babies who are worn cry up to 40 to 50 percent less. Pretty awesome.
9. More social
OK, so, babywearing doesn't mean your baby is going to be super social and not babywearing isn't going to make your child a social recluse. However, research does show that babies who are worn typically are social and generally feel comfortable around people. If you think about it, it makes sense.
I was able to get so much done while I was wearing Jack. I would go on walks, use it at the grocery store, sew, work on the computer … pretty much everything! While I used our stroller as well, there were many times that I didn't want to get it out, or I just wasn't able to bring it with us and having my carrier in my diaper bag made life easier. It didn't take up hardly any room! It also frees your hands so you can do other tasks. I LOVE using baby carriers in the airport as well.
11. Sleep well
Jack always slept in my wrap, and that's not uncommon for babies who are worn! If your baby has trouble taking naps, definitely try babywearing. Most babies sleep great in wraps. Although I completely endorse babywearing, make sure that you do it safely! Be sure to check out this post on the basics of babywearing for more information. While there are many different carriers out there, I recommend trying out different ones to see what works best for you. I do highly recommend having some kind of wrap, especially when your baby is very young. They are easy to use, store and bring with you, and it keeps your baby warm and snuggly against your body.