A Better Bond With Babywearing

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Newborns are born into an unfamiliar world, easily unsettled by hunger, light, changes in temperature, and pain. They’re highly sensitive to these new experiences, which can raise their stress levels. Any adult can confirm that high stress levels manifest as a physical burden, showing up as tightness in muscles, headaches, and compromised general wellness. When babies are consistently under stress, their general wellness is also affected, which can permanently disrupt their immunity.

All of this would sound pretty bleak if there wasn’t also a counter-measure already established to ensure that babies thrive despite the stress of life outside the womb. Typically, “the mother-child bond assures infant survival in terms of protection, nutrition and care,” says Francesca D’Amato, MD, a behavioral neuroscientist and prominent bonding researcher.

That bond comes most significantly from physical attachment – hugs, kisses, soothing touch, proximity to heartbeat, familiar scent and sound. It’s a powerful force of nature and a complex physiological process that enlists not just our hearts, but also our brains, nervous systems, hormones and skin. The inclination to hold our brand-new babies close is more than meets the eye; it taps in to a deep instinctual motivation to ensure the continuation of our species through a nurturing bond.

Babywearing, the practice of securing baby close to the caregiver’s body with a wrap or other carrier, has been practiced across generations and across cultures. Parents today readily speak to the benefits of babywearing, such as having hands free to tend to other tasks, alleviating colic, and helping baby sleep. Perhaps most significant is the benefit of an enhanced bond through babywearing, a consistent reminder to baby of security, familiarity and trust.

When a caregiver consistently responds to baby’s needs, a trusting relationship develops, helping set the stage for a lifetime of healthy relationships with other people. In fact, studies repeatedly confirm that babies who are held and comforted during the first six months of their lives tend to be more secure and confident as they mature into toddlers, kids, teenagers, and ultimately, adults.

Certain factors may impede early bonding opportunities, but babywearing provides an opportunity to reestablish that bond. A complicated or premature birth may lead to time where baby and caregiver are separated, delaying attachment and skin-to-skin contact. Difficulties with breastfeeding or circumstances where breastfeeding isn’t an option can reduce the opportunity for early bonding. Tending to siblings and other life responsibilities can also make it difficult to bond with a newborn. And adoptive parents may be concerned about forming a bond with their baby, particularly for older babies. But these obstacles can be overcome, some sooner than others, by wearing baby close, heart to heart.

In a recent social media poll by Moby Wrap, a babywearing company headquartered in Chico, CA, parents were asked to describe how babywearing helped overcome some of these obstacles to bonding. Their responses include:

“My daughter was in the hospital with a virus at 2 months of age. I was able to wrap her and walk the hospital halls in the evenings while pushing her IV cart with my freed hands. The Moby was invaluable for both bonding and keeping my sanity!” writes Erin P.

“I was only able to breastfeed my firstborn for two weeks, but with babywearing I still felt like I got that closeness, that special bonding time with him,” writes Leah W.

“I have a 4-year-old, a 3-year-old, and a 2-month-old,” writes Katelyn W. “We are always on the go, and the Moby Wrap allows me to be close to my baby and get plenty of cuddles, even on the busiest of days. It also allows me to nurse almost hands free and I can still tend to my older two kids.”

Dads, siblings, aunts, uncles, grandparents and other caregivers all benefit from the bond that ensues from wearing baby. Babies become increasingly tuned in to the smell and rhythmic heartbeat of their caregivers, and the proximity for eye contact along with the consistent exposure to verbal communication enhances baby’s social and cognitive development.

So as you secure your baby close to you, breathing in that sweet newborn smell as your hearts beat together, take a moment to pause and enjoy the nurtured confidence you are bestowing upon your little one through the time-trusted practice of babywearing. 

Gillian Beerman
About Gillian Beerman

Gillian Beerman is the co-founder and president of MOBY®, the brand behind the parent-loved baby carrier, the Moby Wrap. Gillian has four children of her own, all of whom enjoyed the endless benefits of babywearing.

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