We at ACK Wrap put a lot of emphasis on the cute and chic side of babywearing because that is what separates us from the many other baby wraps and carriers on the market. In addition to our supremely soft and lightweight fabrics, we offer classic styles in hopes of broadening the prospective baby wearing population. It used to just be the more granola, hippie parents who wore their babies. That stereotype is breaking down each day as I see parents of all walks of life wearing their babies, from the crunchy moms at Whole Foods to pampered celebrities in magazines. So what has changed and why is it becoming so widespread? Quite simply, it has become common knowledge that it is better for babies.
Babywearing has been around for centuries, dare I say millennia? In yesteryear, it was out of necessity more than anything else. Parents and older siblings needed to be able to use both hands to fulfill necessary daily tasks. Wearing the youngest siblings freed up hands and kept the little ones safe simultaneously. This is the practical side of babywearing that continues to be a huge benefit to parents and caregivers today. Invaluable hands-free wearing allows for completion of daily tasks, as well as just a minute to rest arms from holding a needy newborn. Mommy biceps are great, but they need a break every once in a while. This hands-free time is also essential if there are older siblings in the house who have needs as well.
A very interesting study in Evolutionary Psychology Journal suggests that human babies are physically made to be held and carried, as opposed to 'nested' (i.e. left in the bassinet). "The human infant, when lying on the back, frequently assumes a position where both legs are flexed and abducted," (1). The study goes onto discuss the shape of an infant's spine is a 'C' shape which is conducive to being carried on their caregiver's front (facing them), as opposed to an adult's spine which is 'S' shaped. It is perfectly natural for babies to be worn and carried; they are physically created to be!
Other studies suggest that babies cry 43-54% less in the evening hours if carried at least three hours throughout the day (2). One cannot spoil a newborn. Just imagine for a minute being carried every single second of your life and then suddenly pushed out (quite literally) into the cold, bright, scary world, suddenly separated from your life source and everything you knew. Isn't it only natural to ease this transition by creating a womblike environment on the outside? A baby wrap carrier perfectly accomplishes this; We like to think of it as a womb with a view.
As a Labor & Delivery RN, it is part of my daily job to encourage skin-to-skin contact between mom and newborn. Immediately after birth, placing the infant directly on mother's chest (dried off) promotes more stable temperatures, blood sugar levels, respiratory efforts, and breastfeeding success. Allowing the newborn to feel the warmth of their mother, hear her heartbeat and voice, and smell her creates a hormonal chain reaction promoting the health and wellness of both parties involved. Premature babies in the NICU greatly benefit from skin-to-skin (often called Kangaroo Mother Care) when stable enough to do so. The importance of physical contact to babies is essential for their growth. A study showed mothers who practiced Kangaroo Care at least six hours a day with their low birthweight infant showed significant increases in weight, length, and head circumstances in comparison to babies who did not have this contact (3). Baby wrap carriers are perfect for skin-to-skin as they keep baby secure and snug while in immediate contact with their caregiver.*
Another benefit of babywearing is that it creates better socialization for the infant. From the very beginning, they learn the sounds of the world around them. Comforted by the closeness of their caregiver, they can adapt to the new often overstimulating environment. As they grow older, being worn gives them more face to face time with others which in turn helps them to learn language and social cues.
Baby wrap carriers can assist in reducing infant pain from reflux which is an increasingly common ailment. Aside from pharmacological intervention, doctors will suggest keeping infants who suffer from reflux in an upright position which the baby wrap carrier accomplishes.
Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, the baby wrap carrier can be a wonderful assistive device to promote bonding between parent and infant. Carrying a baby often using this method allows the caregiver to learn the cues and needs of their child, thus instilling confidence in themselves. The baby is constantly reassured as they learn how to communicate their needs. This reassurance leads to better sleeping habits and self-soothing habits, leading to an overall happier baby and parent. Babywearing may also decrease incidence of postpartum depression in mothers (4).
It is clear that babywearing has hugely positive implications, so it is no wonder why it is becoming increasingly popular. I do not believe this is a passing trend. It is our vision to see a broader population of moms and dads who choose to wear their babies, one ACK Wrap at a time!
(1) Evolutionary Psychology- ISSN 1474-7049- Volume 5(1). 2008, -106- Natural Parenting
(2) Increased carrying reduces infant crying: A randomized controlled trial. UA Hunziker, RG Barr Pediatrics 77 1986
(3) Effect of Kangaroo Mother Care on physical growth, breastfeeding and its acceptability. G Gathwala, B Singh, J Singh, Tropical Doctor 40(4) 2010
(4) Palaez-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.
*ACK Wraps can be used for skin-to-skin by stripping baby down to nothing but a diaper. The caregiver should not wear a shirt or bra, but just the wrap in place of a shirt. Place infant in wrap and enjoy the ultimate bonding experience!