Before Avery, my daughter, was born, I knew I wanted to wear her in a carrier. But, I was uninformed about the actual benefits of babywearing; I just thought it would be a cool way to get some extra exercise! If you know someone who tries to turn anything into some form of exercise, meet one more... me!
For days, I read and re-read fact sheets on baby carriers and reviews by other parents. I was surprised at how detailed and passionate so many parents are about babywearing. After the thorough research, one thing was certain: I will not get a carrier that allows my baby's legs to dangle or have her facing outward! According to the International Hip Dysplasia Institute, dangling legs can put your baby at a high risk of developing hip dysplasia -- a risk I'd rather not take.
There are a myriad of benefits to babywearing for both parents and their babies, and parents can use all the benefits we can get! Here are a few, but by no means all, of the benefits babywearing provides over alternatives like strollers and car seats:
• It aids the baby in developing balance, motor skills and mobility in general. (1, 2, 3)
• Babies who are worn are less likely to cry as much during the day and even at night! (4)
• Parents and their babies have a stronger bond when worn or carried, and it will last all the way into adulthood. (5)
• Carried babies are happier and healthier. (6)
• Babies get a better view of the world around them when worn. Poor babies in strollers or car seats only know a world of knees and shins!
• Babywearing parents also enjoy the freedom of both hands and to move around safely with baby happily close to you. Plus, my original reason for wanting to wear my baby, it really is great exercise!
Although the plethora of benefits support my babywearing ways, it all stems down to one major reason; love. Yes, I wear my baby because I love her more than I ever thought possible. The feeling that overwhelmed me as I watched Avery come into the world for the first time was a feeling of unconditional love. I only felt it once before when I watched my wife, Kelley, walk down the aisle in her wedding dress. When the air escapes my lungs and my heart stops from the overwhelming beauty/astonishment, that's true love!
As a dad, I will never be able to duplicate what my wife shares maternally with Avery, so I depend on babywearing to get as close as I can. I wear my baby to help her grow into a happy, strong, confident and loving daughter. I am proud to have her close to me as I shop at the store, go on long walks, mow the lawn, or just move around the house. Everything we do and see, I tell her what's going on and I know she's absorbing all of it in her constantly growing brain.
When asked why I wear my baby, I could regurgitate the slew of benefits as found by research, but the main reason is simply because I love her. And, just as The Beatles say, "All You Need Is Love"! I'm a proud dad to the most adorable girl and happy husband to the most amazing wife, and love is what makes us a happy, healthy family. Oh yeah, good food and exercise play their part too!
1. Lawn et al., "'Kangaroo Mother Care' to Prevent Neonatal Deaths Due to Preterm Birth Complications," International Journal of Epidemiology 2010: April.
2. Charpak, N., "Kangaroo Mother Care: 25 Years After," Acta Paediatric 94 2005: 5, 514-522
3. Ludington-Hoe, S. Kangaroo Care: The Best You Can Do to Help Your Preterm Infant. New York: Bantam Books, 1993.
4. Kostandy et al., "Kangaroo Care (Skin Contact) Reduces Crying Response to Pain in Preterm Neonates: Pilot Results," Pain Management Nursing 2008: 9:55-65
5. R Tessier, et al., "Kangaroo Mother Care, home environment and father involvement in the first year of life: a randomized controlled study," Acta Paediatrica 98 (September 2009): 1444-1450
6. Powell, A. "Harvard Researchers Say Children Need Touching and Attention," Harvard Gazette