I'd love to share with you a great book I have just finished: Why Babywearing Matters, by the wonderful Rosie Knowles of the Sheffield Sling Surgery and Library. This is the fifth book in the Why It Matters series, and I have reviewed some of the others here and here and here. I can't wait to read some of the upcoming titles in the series, they are little bombs of evidence based information. I love them!
One thing I love about this book is that it covers all the different aspects of babywearing so comprehensively, which is impressive considering how petite the book is. Dr Knowles discusses the anthropology of babywearing; how it helps babies; how it helps families; how to wear your baby safely; how babies are worn around the world; the different styles of carrier; and how you can babywear in different circumstances. It really covers everything you might want to know about babywearing.
What is babywearing? I admit, it's a funny term used to describe carrying your baby using a supporting sling of some kind, rather than just your arms. The sling might be a single piece of woven or stretchy fabric, something structured with padding and buckles, or anything in between that is strong and safety tested to keep your baby safe. There are great explanations of lots of different styles of carrier within the book, many with pictures. Husband and I discovered babywearing when Sausages was a tiny premmie. I would take him out to groups, doctors or shops in his stretchy sling, and nobody could see his nasogastric tube, or poke him! I was very ill with postnatal depression, and keeping him in the sling made a safe little bubble for the pair of us outside our home. When Bob arrived we upped our babywearing game in order to keep up with Sausages, and we still wear him now at two and a half. I'm already planning which slings we will use with our next baby when it joins us later this year!
One of the things Rosie talks about in her book is the "fourth trimester," or "exterogestation" of human babies. Born developmentally behind many other mammals, human babies do best when they are kept close to their parent. Babywearing allows a parent easily to keep their baby close to them with their hands free. This helps the baby to regulate their heart rate, breathing and temperature, and to feel safe and secure. It helps the parent to get on with what they have to, like preparing meals, dealing with older children etc, since it is significantly easier than carrying in arms. It also supports breastfeeding and bonding between the parent and infant. Dr Knowles cites studies that suggest that carried babies cry less, and suffer less from colic and reflux. It is certainly known that keeping a refluxy or snotty baby upright can help immeasurably. The oxytocin released by baby and parent while in such close contact can help those suffering with post natal depression (alongside treatment and support).
As with all the books in this series, this is a great read for expectant parents who think they might like to try a carrier, and for those with babies or small children who think it might be for them. If it weren't for the fact that they are all closing, I'd suggest that all the children's centres invested in a set of this series.
I'd love to hear your babywearing stories, please do say hello!