Baby wearing is the practice of carrying baby close to you using a sling or carrier. It is generally associated with the attachment parenting philosophy, although baby wearing in Asian countries is a common practice.
Personally, I find baby wearing one of the most common sense practices of parenting because it allows a mother or carer to keep baby close while freeing the hands to do other things. While there is the option of using a pram, prams are terribly cumbersome especially in a country that isn’t wheelchair friendly. Imagine having to lift your pram and baby over a three foot barrier to access a shopping mall (this is the case in Ikano). Even if you don’t have barriers like that to worry about, I would think pushing the pram and the shopping cart in the supermarket at the same time is also rather challenging.
I didn’t know much about baby wearing when I first bought our Bjorn Baby Carrier. When you’re a first time parent, you generally buy whatever is on those handy little shopping lists they provide for you in the baby section of most department stores. And when your friends recommend products, you buy them as well. You won’t really know until after the baby is born how useful any of these things are, but then, you don’t really have the luxury to wait until after the baby is born to buy them because you’ll be too busy adjusting to the new baby to shop around.
Well, one thing I discovered was that our Bjorn Baby Carrier was one of our best investments ever. During our son’s first year, he hardly used his pram at all. He would protest very strongly whenever we tried to put him into it. Since he was a baby, I didn’t want him to cry-it-out in his pram, so I carried him in the baby carrier.
When he was older, he would adopt the “plank position” when we tried to put him into the pram and he would immediately slide out of it. Eventually, we stopped trying to take the pram out. It wasn’t until Gavin turned two that he started to enjoy sitting in his pram – so the pram wasn’t completely redundant after all.
In a way, I was glad that he resisted being put into the pram especially after learning about the importance of touch to a baby’s development. Baby wearing meant that Gavin received a lot more “touch” time.
How Does Baby Wearing Help to Build a Bond?
I think it is quite self-explanatory that the increased “touch” time between mother and baby is beneficial to the relationship. And when a baby is carried close to mother, there tends to be more communication between mother and baby. The baby can listen to mother singing or talking which is not only beneficial for building a bond but for learning.
I don’t know about you, but when Gavin sits in a pram in the shopping mall, unless I lean close to him, I can hardly hear what he’s saying. There is definitely less communication between Gavin and me when he’s in a pram compared to when I’m carrying him. It is also a lot easier to teach a baby new things when you’re wearing him rather than pushing him around in a pram.
Baby Wearing: Recommended Slings and Carriers
The Baby Bjorn was the first ever baby carrier I bought. Thought I found it very easy to use, my biggest gripe was the weight limitations. Gavin put on weight very quickly in his first year and outgrew the Baby Bjorn by the time he was about 9 months. I was still wearing Gavin until he was 18 months so we needed to get another sling to replace the Bjorn carrier.
In retrospect, armed with the experience and knowledge that I have now, these are the slings and carriers I would have considered getting instead:
- Wrap baby carrier – there are lots of makes for this type of carrier: Hug-a-bub, Baby K Tan, Sleepy Wrap and Moby Wrap are just a few.
- Ergo baby carrier – I have not used the Ergo carrier but I have friends who have and they have nothing but good feedback on this. Based on the basic requirements I have for a carrier – minimal strain to the back, even weight distribution and the ability to carry baby through to toddlerhood – I find the Ergo meets them very well. In retrospect, I think I would have bought an Ergo instead of the Bjorn.
- Ring sling carrier – I don’t recommend this carrier for long-term use because it relies heavily on one shoulder and can get uncomfortable after a while. However, it is handy when you get to the toddler stage where your child often switches between wanting to run around and be carried. It stows away nicely into a bag when not required (Ergo carriers are large and bulky) and can be easily put on again when required (Wrap carriers can be messy to put on and take off).