When they first brought Alicia home from the hospital, first-time parents Charmaine and Mark Menon just didn’t know how to calm down their constantly wailing baby.
“Alicia wanted to be held all the time and started crying the second we put her down,” recalls Charmaine, 33. “It was very tiring, especially since I had a challenging birth and really needed some rest.”
Then, a mummy friend suggested that they wear their baby to stop the crying. Charmaine says, “We’d never heard of baby carrying before, so we started reading up on it and went to a shop to try on different slings and carriers.” After investing in a wrap, Charmaine and Mark took turns to wear Alicia day and night. Notes Mark, 36, “She was so much more settled and calm and it even helped with her sleep.”
Babywearing ― the practice of carrying your baby in a sling, wrap or carrier ― is not a new concept. In fact, most mums in many third world countries have been carrying their little ones for practical reasons for centuries ― by expertly binding their tyke snugly to their bodies with a long piece of cloth. We pinpoint 10 ways why this tried and tested trick works wonders for your wee one and you!
1. Eases baby into the real world
After being inside your womb for three trimesters, it’s understandable that your little one still craves that closeness he’s gotten used to after birth – also known as the “fourth trimester”. “Babywearing helps newborns transit into the real world gently,” notes Nur Afifah, a certified babywearing consultant from Babywearing Hub Singapore. Listening to mummy’s familiar heartbeat and enjoying skin-to-skin contact will keep your kewpie happy and content in an otherwise alien environment.
“Babywearing helps newborns transit into the real world gently.”
2. It’s convenient
There’s good reason why Mama Bear’s porridge was cold in the story Goldilocks and The Three Bears. It’s because she was too busy tending to her little one to eat it while it was still warm ― or so the joke goes. There will be days when your infant wants to stay close to you 24/7, but you also need to eat, nor does the laundry do itself. Wearing your baby instantly gives you two free hands to do all this and maybe even run some errands.
3. You’ll be more in tune with your baby’s cues
Since you are constantly face-to-face with your little fella, you’ll be the first to know when he’s hungry, has done a poop or is ready for nap. And you can tend to these cues in a flash, which makes him feel more secure and also boosts your bond.
4. Makes breastfeeding easier
If you’re nursing, having your baby in a carrier speeds up the feeding process. This means that you won’t end up feeding your munchkin when he’s at the brink of a meltdown because you’re just taking too long to get yourself organised. Plus, you can do it discreetly in public without having to rummage in your bag for a cover. An added bonus: the constant closeness may also boost your breastmilk production.
5. Reduces digestive discomfort
The swaying movement helps him release the trapped gas, which may be causing his crying and fussing. Placing your munchkin in an upright position also stops him from regurgitating his food. This, in turn, eases the burning sensation that comes from having reflux, a common digestive issue that usually plagues babies from around 4 weeks to 6 months.
6. Promotes healthy development
As you walk, reach or bend with your young ’un in tow, the movements help to stimulate his vestibular system, says Nurjanna Ng, also a certified babywearing expert at Babywearing hub Singapore. The vestibular system includes the parts of the inner ear and brain that help control balance and eye movements. Honing this contributes to a better sense of balance and coordination. The upright position also strengthens your sweetie’s core and neck muscles.
7. Reduces occurrence of evening colic
When nothing you do seems to soothe your sweetie during those dreaded hours ― usually when the sun is setting ― reach for a sling and take him out for a walk. The natural rocking motion will calm him down and help him nod off. Another added bonus: You have your hands free to enjoy a cool drink as you take a leisurely walk!
“Giving dads the opportunity to carry their little ones regularly can help strengthen their connection with their offspring.”
8. Keeps you fit
Forget about trying to fit Zumba or Pilates into your already packed mummy schedule. Whittle your waist back to its pre-pregnancy glory by taking frequent power walks with junior strapped to you. You are doing cardio and weight-lifting at the same time. Now, that’s a workout!
9. Keeps junior safe
Scared of losing your little one in sea of people at busy malls or events? Keeping him close to you in a carrier means you will never run the risk of playing “Where’s Wally?”. Wearing your baby also comes in handy when you’re travelling and don’t want to “misplace” your munchkin as you shuffle busily between airports and planes.
10. Boosts bonding with dad and caregivers
After baby arrives, mums seem to enjoy the most snuggle time, which can make daddies feel left out. Giving fathers the chance to carry their little ones regularly can help strengthen their connection with their offspring. This is also a great way for grandparents, uncles, aunts and helpers to bond with bubba, which will gives the new parents some downtime.
Don’t know how to pick a proper carrier? We have tips!…
Sling out, sister!
Before you purchase a carrier, take note of these prime pointers…
* Shop at an authorised carrier brand store This is to ensure you’re not purchasing a fake version, which might lack the ergonomic design that keeps baby safe. You also want to ensure that you’re protected by a product warranty.
* Make sure it's age appropriate Newborn carriers have specific functions that will ensure that baby is well supported. Purchase an infant insert and make sure that you learn how to put it on properly. Newborns are also better suited for ring slings and wraps while a carrier is better for older babies. Also, check the recommended minimum and maximum weight of the carrier.
Talk to a babywearing consultant as they are trained to help you choose the right carrier type.
* Try first Shop at a store that allows you to try them for size as there isn’t a carrier that will fit everyone. Narrow it down to two or three options, try these again, then choose the one that fits the best.
* Look for signs of wear and tear If you are planning to re-use your old carrier (from your firstborn) or purchase a hand-me-down, make sure you know how old the carrier is and check meticulously for any rips or tears
* Get sound advice Talk to a babywearing consultant as they are trained to help you choose the right carrier type. They can also show you how to wear your little one safely.
Contributed by Nur Afifah and Nurjanna Ng. Certified Die Trageschule Dresden babywearing consultants, who run Babywearing Hub Singapore.
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