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The Benefits of Babywearing

It’s only natural for babies to want to be held close and secure, near the familiar rhythm of mom’s heartbeat. Babywearing allows caregivers to be hands-free and to tend to older siblings, clean house, do laundry and shop. This in itself is a beautiful thing.  However, Marni Matyus owner of The Sling Station, an online babywearing support site (theslingstation.com) and the online sling store Peppermint.com, notes, “Baby slings are the most effective and simple way to maintain the warm, natural connection a child has with its mother. 

There are five main types of slings: Pouches, ring slings , wraps, mei teis and structured soft carriers. Finding the one that’s right for you is “simply a matter of personal preference,” explains Matyus. Here’s a look at various babywearing options available for newborns through toddlers up to 35 pounds.  

Pouches. Pouches are the simplest type of baby carrier.  Fast in, fast out with a sleek style and no extra fabric. The baby sits in a pouch between two layers of fabric. While you can wear a newborn in a pouch, Matyus recommends they be used for a hip carry for babies age four months and older who have good neck control.  

Ring Slings. Ring slings are great for new sling users and are the best type of carrier for nursing.  You can easily nurse hands-free or use the tail for a cover up. Most tails come with a pocket which is perfect for carrying a diaper, keys and cell phone. Ring slings are adjustable, making them highly versatile. Matyus recommends an unpadded or lightly padded ring sling.  “Excess padding makes the carrier hard to adjust, bulky and hot. Plus you want it to easily fold up into a diaper bag.” 

Wraps. With 20 different ways to tie a wrap using five to six yards of fabric, these baby slings may seem intimidating.  However, wraps are the most comfortable, the most versatile and provide the best ergonomic support for both baby and the caregiver.  Many people who have back trouble report that the wrap is the only carrier they can comfortably use for long periods.  With 15-20 minutes of practicing the tying methods, Matyus assures that “parents will be a pro.”  Wraps are ideal for newborns and baby shower gifts.   

Mei Tais. Pronounced “may tie,” these slings are primarily used for carrying the baby upright facing towards the wearer on the front or back.  Oftentimes referred to as “Asian Back Carriers,” mei tais are comprised of a rectangle-shaped piece of fabric, two straps for your waist and two shoulder straps.Your child’s weight is supported evenly by both shoulders and your hips.

Structured Soft Carriers.
Ergonomically designed to support the weight of your child, these baby slings are the best choice for carrying your heavy baby or pre-schooler and are popular choices for dads.  Much of the weight is transferred to your hips and evenly spread across both shoulders. The baby is also fully supported through their thighs, bottom, and back.
Several Maryland moms weigh in on how they have benefited from keeping their babies close to their hearts:   

Hands-Free: Without a way to hold their baby hands-free, some parents are forced to decide between comforting their baby and taking care of chores.  Mandy Stinchcomb of Glen Burnie shares, “Babywearing has given me a way to take more time for myself or clean up around the house without sacrificing what I can give to my children.”  

Tend to Other Children: Babywearing allowed Mandy Stinchcomb to continue attending her daughter’s Mommy and Me gym class.  Monique Jones of Pasadena felt strongly about keeping her infant a part of daily family life.  Her newborn came along to the park, backyard, and play table.

Hands Free Nursing:
It’s possible to discreetly nurse hands-free in almost any type of baby sling.  Alicia Simon of Crofton often nursed her son while shopping, allowing him to fall back asleep for the rest of their trip.  

Fussiness, Nervousness, Colic, & GURD:
Some babies need constant motion, some are shy and some just enjoy the comfort of being held — babywearing is the answer to all of these situations. When Christine Connally’s youngest son came home from the NICU, he wanted to be held so she carried him in the sling. “When he is sick, he also loves to be carried snug in the sling.”  Lia Mack’s first son had GURD for the first four months of his life. He had to be held in an upright position, especially at night.  “The sling saved my sanity and my arms.”

Running Errands & Travel:
Christine Connally of Bowie enjoys the ease of babywearing while running errands.  
“At each stop, I pop my son into the pouch sling and we are off.”  

Babywearing helps promote a sense of security and trust which allows children to learn that the world is a safe and reliable place. Alicia Simon remembers walking around with her newborn in a sling and “it was like he was still in the womb, for both of us.”

Learning: Children who are worn learn about their world through the surrounding activities and conversations.  Monique Jones, explains, “My children have gotten a grown-up view of museums, architecture, dramatic natural landscapes, wild animals, daily community activities, all from the safety and security of their nest as I carry them.”

For More Babywearing Support

The Sling Station and Peppermint.com have live Sling Experts available by phone 888-99-SLING or by live chat. Video, printable instructions and web instructions for wearing newborns, babies and toddlers as well as nursing in a sling or wrap are also conveniently located on either website.   

Babywearing International, local chapter: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Babywearing_in_DC-MD-VA/

La Leche League of Northern Anne Arundel. Many of the members wear their babies and guests are welcome.

Naturally Cozy Baby Wear Maryland mom who provides in-person consultations and web instruction for a variety of slings.  Naturallycozybabywear.com

Natural Approach to Parenting (NAP) Provides support, resources and a playgroup for parents of infants and young children in the Central Maryland area who wish to share their experiences with other naturally minded parents.   http://groups.yahoo.com/group/NAP-MD/

Attachment Parenting International of Frederick MD http://groups.yahoo.com/group/APIFrederickMaryland/
By Lori Bittenbender






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