Sling wearing is a great way to develop a strong and positive attachment between you and your baby. After being in the womb for 9 months, feeling, hearing and smelling mum, the birth can interrupt this emotional bond. Sling wearing re-connects the mother and her baby, once again allowing the baby to feel their mum’s heartbeat, smell her skin and hear her voice just as they did before birth.
Research carried out in Montreal found that “(after) 6 weeks of supplemental carrying, babies cried and fussed 43% less than non carried babies.”
Sling wearing helps your baby adapt gently to life outside the womb. Sling wearing is also great for dads and partners. Being in close proximity and responding to your baby’s cues helps to develop an emotional relationship. It is much easier to respond quickly to your baby’s cues when they are with you and this, in turn, builds up a sense of trust and reliance. It also allows the other main carer to be involved. Having a strong bond with the mother (or other primary carer) promotes brain development. A baby who feels safe and secure is ready to learn and engage with their environment.
Babies who are sling-worn tend to be more attentive and are more likely to be talked to more regularly than a baby in a buggy. Being close to their carer’s face helps the baby to study body language and facial expressions, which supports the progression of language development. For Mums, baby-wearing increases oxytocin levels, leading to a stronger mother-baby bond, easier breastfeeding and also reduces the risk of Postnatal Depression.
Babies are generally more relaxed and settled in a sling, which supports their sleep needs. On a practical level, wearing a sling frees up your hands and it is also easier to get around when outside when compared to using a buggy. It also allows for discreet nursing in public places.
When sling-wearing, it is important to follow safety guidance, known as TICKS.
You should do a TICKS Safety Check every time you set your baby up in a carrier, wrap or sling.
You can read full details of TICKS here but here is a summary:
- T – Tight
- I – In view at all times
- C – Close enough to kiss
- K – Keep chin off chest
- S – Supported back
If you have a baby who is Low Birth Weight or has other medical needs, do check with your Health Professional that it is safe to baby-wear.
In terms of which carrier, sling or wrap you should choose, there are so many available and it is about finding one you are comfortable with. If sling wearing is new to you, I recommend finding a local Sling Wear group as they will be able to show you different types, allowing you to try them on. Visit Babywearing UK to find your local group.