Babywearing has a number of benefits for caregiver and baby… physical, neurological, social, and emotional. That said, there are some key elements that we absolutely cannot forget while wearing our little ones close, and we can easily remember them by just thinking about our senses and staying in tune with our littles! Let’s break it down, shall we?
Sight – First, and most importantly, we have to make sure that we can see the baby at all times! Placement is key. Is your baby nice and high in that optimal upright position, tummy-to-tummy on your body? An ideal position for babywearing is one that mimics what it would be like to have your baby on your chest, cradled in your arms. You should be able to SEE your little one at all times, and more than that, you should be able to SEE his or her mouth and nose at all times, maintaining at least 1-2 adult fingers’ worth of space underneath his or her chin, which makes it so that your baby’s vulnerable airway remains open and he or she can breathe properly.
In order to SEE your baby’s nose and mouth, you should make sure that there aren’t any obstructions covering your little one (this includes nursing covers, hats, blankets, or accessories for your carrier). Support the back of his or her neck, but check to make sure that there’s not any pressure on the back of your little one’s head. This can force his or her chin down and close off their airway. Finally, let your baby rest his or her cheek near your heart – this helps maintain that line of sight and also helps keep your baby calm.
Sound – The second of the 5 senses is sound, and this one is hugely important! Just as you need to see your little one’s face, nose and mouth, you should also listen to make sure that your baby’s breathing is even and unimpeded. You can tell that your baby might be having a hard time breathing if he or she is making grunting or snorting sounds. If you hear any unusual noises, take your baby out and reposition him or her right away! It is always better to err on the side of caution!
Taste/Smell – next up are taste and smell. Nom nom. Make sure that your little one is high enough that you can place a smooch on that tiny forehead without having to stoop (double check his or her airway, too, while you’re at it!), and keep in mind that your kisses go a long way… they help to reassure you that your little one is okay, and have also been shown to benefit your child’s immune system through the sampling of pathogens and tailoring of mama’s milk to baby’s needs. Even just smelling and cuddling your little one can help to decrease stress for both of you through the production of oxytocin. Our bodies are magical! They really are cute enough to eat, we know, but kisses will have to do. 🙂
Touch – Finally, we have the sense of touch. This one’s important, because it helps us to determine that our baby is the correct temperature. Babywearing has been shown to be thermoregulative (meaning it helps baby to maintain an appropriate body temperature), and it also gives us a nice front-row touch for our littles so that we can make sure that they don’t get too hot on those summer days or get too cold on those winter days. By touching our little ones, we can be especially attentive to their needs and know immediately whether we need to add another layer or reduce one simply by the feel of our children’s skin. It also helps with bonding and communications between the caregiver and your little one.
Intuition – Researchers say that a sixth sense seems to be supported by your body detecting something that your mind just can’t articulate… so take advantage! Trust your intuition, cuddle your little one, and keep babywearing with your free hands and your full heart!
We welcome you to share this information with all family members, friends, and other new parents. If you have any concerns regarding your individual child’s health and babywearing, be sure to consult your doctor. Happy babywearing!