It’s International Babywearing Week! That’s definitely something I’m excited to celebrate. As I shared in my post here, I think parenting is just easier with the right tools…. And a good baby carrier is at the top of my list of important tools.
Most of you are probably familiar with what we mean by “babywearing”, but if you are reading and aren’t sure what we are talking about, let me explain. “Babywearing” refers to “wearing” a baby in a cloth baby carrier. This allows mom/dad/grandma/grandpa/babysitter to have both hands free to do other things, while still keeping baby close to them, safe, and comforted. There are a lot of different types – pouch slings, ring slings, wraps, structured carriers, and mei teis are a few of the main categories. This post does a great job of describing the different types and shows pictures of the carriers in action.
In support of babywearing, I thought it might be fun to tackle a few “babywearing myths” I’ve encountered as a babywearing parent.
Babywearing is a fad.
I’ve had so many people stop me in the grocery store or other places while I am babywearing, and comment on my “neat” carriers and lament that there wasn’t something around like that when their babies were little. I’ve also had people remark in a much more negative tone on the “new” things people come up with. There seems to be a perception that this idea of babywearing is new, hippy, crunchy, for fringe parents. Nothing could be further than the truth! In cultures all around the world, people have worn and continue to wear their babies. Not wearing babies is the new fad, not the other way around.
Babywearing delays physical development.
I guess I needed to remind my four children that because they were worn frequently and we didn’t do a lot of “tummy time” that they were supposed to roll over, sit up, crawl, pull up, and walk later than average. Because they certainly missed the memo! Instead, they all met early physical milestones without any trouble, with more than one crawling by 6 months, pulling up at 8 months, and one who walked by 11 months. Babies need physical touch, and when being worn, babies receive lots of it! They also receive plenty of opportunities to stretch, wiggle, and more. They get just as much (I would say more) physical stimulation as babies who spend a great deal of time in swings, exersaucers, and infant carseats. The idea that frequent babywearing (or carrying in arms) inhibits physical development is just not backed up by science, or the experiences of any babywearers I know. This article from Onya Baby has a lot of detailed information on the science of babywearing, historical trends, benefits of babywearing, and more.
Babywearing leads to “spoiled” babies.
I think this is one of those I hear the most frequently, and probably one of the hardest to convince people is a myth. Our society is very big on independence, and this idea has transferred to how we interact with our children. They need to be able to stand on their own two feet, find what they need in themselves, fall asleep on their own at just a few weeks old, and play independently all day long. But all of that forgets something important – babies are designed to need us. There is a reason that preemie babies who get skin-to-skin contact with their mothers and fathers fare better than those who spend all their time in incubators. Studies have long shown that babies who have a secure attachment to their primary caregivers as infants end up being more independent, not less so as they grow older. A baby who cries to be held is not “spoiled” – they just know what they need. Holding a baby, talking to them frequently throughout the day, kissing their head while you do the dishes…. None of that is going to lead to a spoiled baby. Instead, it will lead to a confident toddler, preschooler, and adult who is secure because their needs were met. Babywearing is not the same as parenting permissively, with no boundaries or discipline as a child grows.
What babywearing myths have you encountered? How have you responded? If you are new to the idea of babywearing, do you have any questions?