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!".
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.