Why do we baby wear?

Babywearing in Hong Kong, A mum back carry toddler in grey woven wrap

Babywearing is not a new idea but a tradition that has been seen across multiple cultures for many centuries.  But as mainstream media spreads, sharing ideas and resources continue to become accessible through the Internet.  We see the popularity of babywearing increasing with local babywearing groups and different brands have their own chatter group to connect with customers.  Different cultures have their own way of wearing their babies, with different types of fabrics, carriers and using different carries which should be respected and appreciated and passed down to future generations.  Some common carriers we see today originate from different cultures such as the Onbuhimo from Japan, the Podaegi from Korea and the Meh Dai from China.  Although they may not look like the carriers we have today, many of the concepts and methods have evolved from homemade items that many families still have as heirlooms today.

Chasing back to the root of babywearing, it is a very useful technique for working mothers who need to have their babies close and safe while tending to the fields, have other children to take care of or doing chores at home.  Nowadays we tend to have cribs, rockers, swings and strollers to keep our babies contained and safe from dangers.  But babywearing still has its immense usefulness in this day and age, especially in the “fourth trimester” as babies adjust to the outside world and mothers adjust to being a mother.  We see premature babies and newborn babies benefit from the closeness to their caregivers at birth, to help regulate their temperature, provide them comfort in the newness of the world and we see that these babies are less likely to cry or fuss for long periods of time. 

Sleepy baby in woven wrap front wrap cross carry

Babywearing is not only beneficial for babies; nursing mothers are better able to produce milk for their baby through the constant skin-to-skin contact.  Studies has also shown mothers are less likely to suffer from post partum depression and anxiety due to wearing their babies which helps mothers feel less overwhelmed since they are able to respond quicker to their baby’s needs by being able to feel and hear baby stirring or starting to cry whereas a baby in a crib may have a louder cry before their caregiver can hear and respond to them and it may take longer for baby to calm down. 

Babywearing is not only for newborns and small babies at home to bond.  It is very practical in the modern day even with the usage of a car or stroller.  For those using public transportation, a stroller or carseat might not be easy to use during rush hour or areas without access to elevators.  A comfortable and correctly fitted carrier can help caregivers navigate the busy streets and roads of the busy city and make it easier to get on crowded trains and buses.  It is also natural for babies to not sit long in their strollers, they may get impatient from sitting, or they are overwhelmed by the busy sights and sounds going on around them and needed to be comforted by the caregiver’s warmth and familiarity. Babywearing also benefits babies in many other ways such as language, social and physical development. Babies that are worn facing their caregivers are able to watch their caregiver’s mouth move as they talk and will mimic mouth movements as they learn to talk.  They are also able to hear different tones and sounds through the caregiver having conversations.   By being close to the caregiver’s face, babies are able to watch and learn facial movements and emotions that caregivers displays.  We also know that touch is very important for babies, to develop a sense of security and connection with their caregiver.   Babies also benefit physically from babywearing; especially for younger babies who can build up their neck strength and head control by being worn upright. They can also learn to use muscle groups to balance themselves. Being worn upright also promotes digestion especially beneficial for babies who suffer from colic or refluxes.  Some parents are also concern with baby’s developing flat head syndrome, and by babywearing your baby you can help prevent baby lying on a flat surface for long periods of time. 

Parents with multiple children can also benefit from the babywearing.  Having a toddler or older child who may want to run off and play in the park, it is much easier to have a younger baby in a carrier on you rather than trying to push a stroller through the bumpy grass quickly while trying to keep an eye on the older child.  Trips to the grocery store or even the beach with two or more children can be made easier with a baby carrier.   It easier to push a shopping cart with an older child in it and putting groceries in the cart and baby on caregiver rather than trying to push a stroller, find a place to hold groceries and making sure the older child is staying close and not knocking things over.  A baby carrier can also allow a parent with a baby who doesn’t want to be put down or being the only adult in the house be able to do many things such as cooking (safely away from fire), easy cleaning such as folding and putting laundry away, vacuuming or straightening out the house.  Spending time with an older child is also possible such as being able to play on the floor, read a story or even help with bath time.   

With the recent pandemic, we may want baby close to us to avoid them touching things in the mall or have other people walking too close to them in the stroller.  With baby wearing we can keep baby close to our body, high up away from the ground where air circulates better and can make sure baby is not coughed or sneezed on.