Babywearing Benefits: Why Do You Need a Baby Carrier?

If there’s one thing you should definitely buy to prepare for your new baby, it’s a baby carrier!  Carrying your baby in a baby carrier (or babywearing) has so many benefits for both you and your baby.  Being in the arms or the carrier of a loving caregiver is the best place for baby!  Using a baby carrier to hold and snuggle your baby is a wonderful way to meet baby’s needs and offers many benefits to both you and baby!

Benefits for Baby:

  •  Infants that are carried by their mothers stop crying, reduce voluntary movements, and exhibit decreased heart rates. (3) Walking while wearing baby in a soft carrier is an incredible way to calm an upset baby.
  • Carried babies cry less, both while being held and afterward. Less time crying means more time in the quiet alert state. (3) (7)
  • A baby who is held frequently in kangaroo care or held skin to skin (which can be done in a baby carrier) will show more organized sleep-wake cycling at three months of age than babies who do not have kangaroo care. (4)
  • Babies who are held and touched frequently gain weight faster than babies that are held less. (1)
  • A baby in a carrier can easily hear everything the caregiver says, see any signs or gestures the caregiver uses, as well as see what the caregiver is talking about! A baby that is worn hears thousands of words per day and is close enough to the speaker to easily distinguish the speech sounds from other sounds.  This boosts language development.  Babies who hear more words have better educational outcomes with larger vocabularies and better reading skills in elementary school.  (6)
  • Babywearing can prevent the development of flat spots on the head and allows the baby to work their neck and trunk muscles just like in tummy time.  Excessive time in car seats and other baby containers can increase the likelyhood of developing plagiocephaly. (8) Time spent babywearing can reduce time spent lying on the back.
  • Research on infant attachment shows that if a baby is held in a baby carrier even one hour per day, they are more likely to develop a secure attachment to their caregiver.  This means the baby will be less clingy and more comfortable exploring and learning! (2)

Benefits for Parents and Caregivers:

  • Babywearing facilitates bonding with all caregivers including grandparents.  Baby is soothed by the sound of the heartbeat and breathing of the caregiver and is easily settled to sleep.  Holding a baby close in a carrier makes it easy for caregivers to notice baby’s cues and respond to them. This increases the attachment between the caregiver and baby and increases the caregiver’s feeling of confidence. (9) (11)
  • Carrying a child in a symmetrical position in line with the caregiver’s center of gravity (as with a baby carrier) expends less energy than carrying the child in arms in an asymmetrical hold. (12)
  • Infant touch reduces the impact of caregiver depression on babies. By providing frequent touch to infants (which can be done through babywearing) caregivers with depression can increase positive infant interactions and infant affect. (9)
  • Babywearing can improve breastfeeding outcomes.  Babies worn even one hour per day by the breastfeeding caregiver in the first month are more likely to be breastfed at five months than those who were not carried in an infant carrier. (10)
  • Holding the baby skin to skin can boost milk supply, increase responsiveness to the baby’s feeding cues, and is related to a longer duration of breastfeeding. (5)  Skin to skin care can be done in a baby carrier.
  • Close contact with baby, particularly if babywearing is combined with skin to skin care, increases production of oxytocin which boosts milk supply. (1)
  • Babywearing can help protect baby from germs.  In a carrier, your baby can’t touch germ-covered surfaces like shopping cart handle or doctor’s office waiting room chairs and strangers are less likely to try to touch the baby.
  • It can save you a lot of money on baby gear.  If you have a baby carrier that works for you, you may not find you need as many other baby items.  With a great carrier, you may be able to avoid purchasing an expensive travel system or expensive baby devices like swings or bouncers.  However, these items can be nice to have on hand, so this is personal preference.
  • It’s so convenient!  You can grocery shop without having to fit the infant travel system in the cart!  Just pop baby into your carrier and go!  You can take the baby out during nap time and baby will still have a restful nap in the carrier.  You can do some household chores while wearing the baby such as light housekeeping or cooking.  You can easily travel places that a stroller can’t go.  Shopping, running errands, caring for siblings, taking care of chores around the house, taking hikes, and visiting crowded places are all easier while babywearing!

Make sure to put a baby carrier on your registry! It’s a wonderful parenting tool and has many benefits for both baby and you!  <3

Further Reading:

Choosing a Baby Carrier
Kangaroo Care Basics
Using your Baby Carrier as a Tool for Kangaroo Care
How to Use Your Carrier

References:

1Anderson, G. C.Current knowledge about skin-to-skin (kangaroo) care for pre-term infants”. J Perinatol. 1991 Sep;11(3):216-26.
2 – Anisfeld E, Casper V, Nozyce M, and Cunningham N. 1990. Does infant carrying promote attachment? An experimental study of the effects of increased physical contact on the development of attachment. Child Dev. 61(5):1617-27.
3 – Esposito, G., Yoshida, S., Ohnishi, R., Tsuneoka, Y., del Carmen Rostagno, M., Yokota, S., … & Kuroda, K. O. (2013). Infant calming responses during maternal carrying in humans and mice. Current Biology, 23(9), 739-745.
4 – Feldman, R., Weller, A., Sirota, L., & Eidelman, A. I. (2002). Skin-to-skin contact (kangaroo care) promotes self-regulation in premature infants: Sleep-wake cyclicity, arousal modulation, and sustained exploration. Developmental Psychology, 38(2), 194-207.
5 – Hake-Brooks, S., Anderson, G. C. (2008). Kangaroo Care and Breastfeeding of Mother-Preterm Infant Dyads 0-18 Months:  A Randomized, Controlled Trial , 27(3), 151-159.
6 – Hart B, Risley TR. (1995).  Meaningful Differences in the Everyday Experience of Young American Children. Baltimore, MD: Brooks Publishing Company.
7 – Hunziker UA, Garr RG. (1986) Increased carrying reduces infant crying: A random-ized controlled trial. Pediatrics 77:641-648 4 – “Current knowledge about skin-to-skin (kangaroo) care for pre-term infants”. J Perinatol. 1991 Sep;11(3):216-26.
8 – Littlefield, Timothy R., MS. Car Seats, Infant Carriers, and Swings: Their Role in Deformational Plagiocephaly. American Academy of Orthotists and Prosthetists. JPO, 2003, Vol. 15, No. 3. pp. 102-106.
9– Pelaez-Nogueras M, Field TM, Hossain Z, Pickens J. (1996). Depressed mothers’ touching increases infants’ positive affect and attention in still-face interactions. Child Development, 67, 1780-92.
10- Pisacane, A., Continisio, P., Filosa, C., Tagliamonte, V., & Continisio, G. I. (2012). Use of baby carriers to increase breastfeeding duration among term infants: the effects of an educational intervention in Italy. Acta Paediatrica, 101(10), e434-e438.
11– Tessier R, M Cristo, S Velez, M Giron, JG Ruiz-Palaez, Y Charpak and N Charpak. (1998) Kangaroo mother care and the bonding hypothesis. Pediatrics 102:e17.
12 – Wall-Scheffler, C. M., Geiger, K., & Steudel-Numbers, K. L. (2007). Infant carrying: the role of increased locomotory costs in early tool development. American journal of physical anthropology, 133(2), 841.