Wednesday 31 October 2012

Babywearing- a Transition from womb to world

Babies spend nine months enclosed in the womb, where it is warm and safe, listening to the constant beating of mum’s heart and feeling her every movement. Then they are born into the world. Suddenly they are exposed to gravity, the cold, separation, bright lights and if placed in a cot on their own, stillness and silence. Human babies are born vulnerable and immature, unready to care or fend for themselves and completely dependent on their parents for their survival. So what better way to help our babies adjust to life outside of the womb and feel protected than to carry them in a sling. Being carried by mum or dad in a sling provides a continuation of warmth, touch, containment, constant movement and the rhythm of a beating heart that they are so used to.  Babies do not know you continue to exist when out of their sight- so stay close and keep them feeling safe.

Mum and Baby as one; Baby warm, safe and contained

For mum it can help her transition from being pregnant and being at one with baby to becoming two separate beings- it can feel so good to still have your baby close to you, near where they have been for nine months, snuggled up and in easy distance to kiss. In addition, with the right sling you can wear them skin to skin, increasing bonding and helping establish breastfeeding. Babywearing is not just for mum, but Dad and other caregivers, it is a great way for them to start to get to know baby and spend close, intimate time together.

Babies are designed to be carried, their natural positioning of their legs as a newborn fits us perfectly, their legs are bowed with feet turned towards one another so they can hold on fast to their carrier. They have a grasping reflex which, whilst now only lasts for a short time after birth, harps back to a time when babies held on to our fur. A baby’s point of focus is approximately 20 cms in front of them- just the right distance for baby to see mum’s face when being carried or fed. Babies quickly learn to actively mould to our bodies, moving with our movement and snuggling up to us.

Embrace your baby close to you

Carrying our babies does not stop having benefits after the early days, as babies become more curious and are able hold their heads up, being carried on your hip or back becomes a great place from which they can view the world.  Babies are social and learn through watching and communicating with others. They learn best when they are calm and in the sling they are upright and alert with the security of being near their caregiver. They can join in with all that the person carrying is up to, interacting with the same people and learning about the world but always able to tuck into mummy or daddy should it all become too much or they are too tired. It is so companionable to share all you are doing with your little one from chatting as you walk around the shops together to cooking the dinner or putting the washing on the clothesline.

Share your world with your little one

Babies are all too soon on the move! First crawling and then walking. Especially with walking, carrying in a sling is a great way of allowing a toddler to have the freedom to wonder- both hands free as no buggy to push- and then when they are tired or in need of reconnecting up they come into the sling for either a quick cuddle or maybe even a snooze.  They now often initiate when they want to be carried and even how- choosing their sling of preference! Carrying your child does not have to stop at any particular time, young children still get tired- a sling in the bag can be a lifeline when you least expect it. 

Up for a rest and a chat with mum

Our little ones are only little for a short while- their needs are constantly changing. Carrying helps enhance communication between mother and baby so that mum can hear and respond to their little ones changing needs. It is also a beautiful way to spend quality, cuddly time together and reconnect as little one slowly finds and moves into their own space and out into the world more. It is great for them to know that mum is always there to return to, through having always had that reassurance of closeness from their initial first days in the world.

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