Why Carry Your Baby In a Sling?
by Beth Beaney, Executive Babywearing Consultant at LTBN
You carry your baby every day - in arms, on your chest, on your shoulder. It’s where your baby is most comfortable. It’s where you love to hold them, where you know they are happiest and safest.
Using a sling to carry your baby is an extension of carrying your baby in arms.
A sling allows you to carry your baby, to continue the loving touch your infant needs, whilst having your hands free.
Carrying in arms and in a sling is essential to the normal physical, psychological and neurological development of your baby.
Every time you hold your baby close, the hormone oxytocin is released. Oxytocin (sometimes called the love hormone) is the hormone that underlies trust - it gives us that happy, warm feeling. So when we carry our babies close, oxytocin is released - it’s a feel good thing.
Every time you touch your baby, hold your baby, you’re bonding with them. It is a well established fact that close contact and touch are vital for our babies and in carrying them you are forming the secure attachments that they will carry with them as they grow.
6 Reasons to Carry Your Baby in a Sling
1. Carrying your baby helps develop a deep, secure mutual attachment.
2. It allows both parents, or indeed any caregiver, to develop a deep bond with baby.
3. It increases parental sensitivity to a baby's needs - you learn to interpret their noises and expressions so much quicker.
4. It simulates the sensations of pressure, motion, warmth and security of the womb.
5. Carrying your baby in a sling reduces their level of stress.
6. It can greatly reduce crying and fussiness, and also helps your tired baby fall asleep.
It’s easy to describe the actual act; it’s a much more complex affair to express its meaning.
It can mean different things to different people, and people carry their babies for many different reasons.
From the start to the end, carrying is love. It’s about family, bonding, togetherness, but not just the act of being together - it’s a deeply profound, as-one togetherness. It’s a secure attachment, borne of the sharing of experiences and emotions found in the every day.
Even on the hardest days, when the parenting journey seems to have taken a disastrously wrong turn (you know, those days), carrying is love. You’re picking up your baby, responding to their needs, bringing them to your body and exchanging warmth and touch. In that one act there’s a message of respect and understanding. It also means you can drink that cup of tea whilst it’s still hot - bonus!
Babywearing isn’t done by any particular type of person; it's human. Perhaps in babywearing, we’re not just building deep connections with our children, but with our own humanity too.
If you’re considering carrying your baby in a sling, do. The support and information is out there to help you. Reach out to your local sling library, or sling group, in person or online. There are lots of wonderful Carrying Consultants across the country with the experience and knowledge to help you carry safely, comfortably, and with confidence.
It's a Family Thing
Using a sling to carry your baby is well established as having a hugely positive impact on your baby's development - it is vital.
Babies thrive when they are carried. Indeed, it's not only baby that thrives, the whole family unit thrives - it’s a kind of paying-forward dynamic.
When your baby is carried, they are physically closer to you. As a result, you can read their cues quicker, and so they cry less. Further, your self-confidence improves and your confidence in your own parenting ability grows.
Oxytocin even has benefits for parents too - it has been shown to be an antidote to depressive feelings. There is much evidence to suggest that carrying your baby in a sling can reduce postpartum depression thanks to oxytocin and the development of deep bonds and secure attachment with your infant.
Bonds are built and solidified between baby and all who carry them - the family that carries together, bonds together. These shared bonds connect us all, they help build a sense of family, and perhaps even community.
The ‘hands-free’ thing - the close cuddles, the connection, the bonds (imagine looking down and seeing your newborn's face just ever so slightly tilted up towards you dreamily) are amazing. Honestly though, having your hands free is amazing too! Your baby is safe and secure and you can go to the toilet, make tea, have lunch, take a walk, or even climb a mountain!
From the everyday essentials to the extraordinary - it’s all so much more wonderful, not to mention easier, with a sling!
Your sling is a vital tool when baby has siblings. You can still do the things you always did - read a story, go for a walk, ride on the swings, play lego - your hands are free. Having a newborn is such a transitional time for any family, and a sling can help that transition run much more smoothly.
You can go anywhere - there’s no limit to what you can do using a sling. A trail that's not suitable for a buggy? No problem! Pop them in the sling and get going. This has a wonderful positive impact on your family. The beach, forest, supermarket, town, airport, mountain or the stairs to your home or dog on a walk. You can do what you want as a family, together.
When you use a sling bonds are built and solidified between baby and all who carry them. These shared bonds connect us all, they help build a sense of family, community and in turn help make the world a better place.
Because carrying is love.