New parenthood. Whew. What a trip.

It's like the universe takes everything you were sure you had under control and pulls the rug out from under you. Your body has undergone an incredible change. You are full of hormones, stretched in ways you've never felt before, and bone tired. Things that used to be easy are painstakingly difficult and now take forever to recover from.

Your heart has changed even more than your body has. It's expanded, grown, evolved in ways you'll discover in the days, months, and years to come. You are fundamentally changed. And yet, you are still you.

Let me repeat that, in case you missed it. New mama (or papa), you are still you.

However you're adapting to new parenthood, whether it suits you like a perfectly cozy new sweater, or whether it's harder, takes longer, and feels like you'll never get back to the person you knew yourself to be before, you are not alone. Everyone is a new mom for the first time. And everyone feels like they have no idea what they're doing sometimes.

But, my new mama friends, I'm here to tell you about something that could potentially change your life (seriously, not exaggerating). You might think it's a fad. It is most assuredly not. In fact, it's bound to put a smile on your face and make you think, "I might actually be able to do this. Wait, I might actually be good at this!".

It's babywearing.

And it's not new. Babywearing has been around as long as babies have been, and in nearly every culture around the world.

Here are five reasons you need to try babywearing:

1. Less crying

I'll start at the top. Wearing your baby in a carrier reduces overall crying by over 40%. It's no secret that babies cry. For food, for diapers, and simply for being held. Wearing your baby not only puts them where they want to be—in your arms—it also alerts you to their cues faster, allowing you to respond to their needs before a full-on scream-fest occurs.

Having your baby upright in a carrier, particularly after feeding, also aids with gas, digestion and reduces symptoms of colic.

Then there are those dreaded hours, usually around your dinnertime, when you're exhausted after a long day, hungry, probably covered in all kinds of delightful goo. It's when your little one is winding down for the night, though it seems like quite the opposite. You've fed them, changed them, cuddled them, bounced on the exercise ball, danced to children's music, hummed, tried all the settings on your white noise machine, and they still won't. stop. crying.

Pop your baby in their carrier. Their safe place. Next to the sound of your heart. And watch them drift off into blissful sleep. Ahh, the wrap nap.

2. Get your hands back (and stop unwanted hands touching your baby)

Wearing your baby in a carrier literally gives you your hands back. This is important for new parents as well as those with older children. Because there is no child more mischievous than a toddler who knows his mama is held captive, feeding the new baby on the couch.

So make yourself some toast, text your BFF, and cuddle ALL your kids at once. Having two hands free while still holding your baby close is a game-changer.

And, speaking of hands, being in public with your baby can be nerve-wracking. Somehow, all sorts of acquaintances or strangers seem to be drawn to touch your new baby's head. Eliminate unwanted baby touching by keeping them safe in their carrier.

3. Gain independence while reducing overstimulation

As you wear your baby, they observe your face, your voice and the things you're doing. Being so close to you greatly increases the amount of interaction they have with you, which helps their brain learn all sorts of new things!

In new environments, your baby can observe from the security of someone they know and love. They are more likely to feel safely curious—wearing your baby has actually been shown to increase independence as your baby gains confidence at their own pace.

Being worn facing in, tummy to tummy, also prevents overstimulation in noisier or busier environments.

4. Combat postpartum depression and anxiety

Depression and anxiety are a challenge many new mothers face postpartum. The stigma around talking about mental health is lessening, but it's still isolating, scary and something that still needs to be talked about more. While babywearing is no replacement for medical help, it has been shown to assist in lessening symptoms of PPD and PPA.

Many new parents find it an easier way to approach bonding with their new infant. Holding them without holding them, while having your hands free, can be a stepping stone in the journey of PPD/PPA.

The reasons babywearing helps aren't magic, they're practical. You can easily get out for a walk. You can shower with your new baby in a water sling. You can take some time for self-care like makeup or hair. And you can do it all with the soft rise and fall of your baby's breaths reassuring you that, yes, you can do this. Yes, you are doing this. Yes, you are enough.

5. Less gear!

Getting out of the house has never been easier thanks to babywearing. Lots of carriers allow you to pre-tie them before you leave the house, and then you can pop baby in and out as needed (if they need to go in their car seat, for example). Bring a small bag of essentials, and mama, you're DONE.

The beauty of babywearing is that you can adventure with your little one, even if that adventure is a Target run, with such a minimal amount of gear. You'll wonder why you ever lugged that massive stroller to Costco in the first place.

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When I was expecting my first child, I wanted to know everything that could possibly be in store for his first year.

I quizzed my own mom and the friends who ventured into motherhood before I did. I absorbed parenting books and articles like a sponge. I signed up for classes on childbirth, breastfeeding and even baby-led weaning. My philosophy? The more I knew, the better.

Yet, despite my best efforts, I didn't know it all. Not by a long shot. Instead, my firstborn, my husband and I had to figure it out together—day by day, challenge by challenge, triumph by triumph.


The funny thing is that although I wanted to know it all, the surprises—those moments that were unique to us—were what made that first year so beautiful.

Of course, my research provided a helpful outline as I graduated from never having changed a diaper to conquering the newborn haze, my return to work, the milestones and the challenges. But while I did need much of that tactical knowledge, I also learned the value of following my baby's lead and trusting my gut.

I realized the importance of advice from fellow mamas, too. I vividly remember a conversation with a friend who had her first child shortly before I welcomed mine. My friend, who had already returned to work after maternity leave, encouraged me to be patient when introducing a bottle and to help my son get comfortable with taking that bottle from someone else.

Yes, from a logistical standpoint, that's great advice for any working mama. But I also took an incredibly important point from this conversation: This was less about the act of bottle-feeding itself, and more about what it represented for my peace of mind when I was away from my son.

This fellow mama encouraged me to honor my emotions and give myself permission to do what was best for my family—and that really set the tone for my whole approach to parenting. Because honestly, that was just the first of many big transitions during that first year, and each of them came with their own set of mixed emotions.

I felt proud and also strangely nostalgic as my baby seamlessly graduated to a sippy bottle.

I felt my baby's teething pain along with him and also felt confident that we could get through it with the right tools.

I felt relieved as my baby learned to self-soothe by finding his own pacifier and also sad to realize how quickly he was becoming his own person.

As I look back on everything now, some four years and two more kids later, I can't remember the exact day my son crawled, the project I tackled on my first day back at work, or even what his first word was. (It's written somewhere in a baby book!)

But I do remember how I felt with each milestone: the joy, the overwhelming love, the anxiety, the exhaustion and the sense of wonder. That truly was the greatest gift of the first year… and nothing could have prepared me for all those feelings.

This article was sponsored by Dr. Brown's. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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My husband and I always talked about starting a family a few years after we were married so we could truly enjoy the “newlywed” phase. But that was over before it started. I was pregnant on our wedding day. Surprise!

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