FROM THE DESK OF INDIAN RIVER HEALTHY START COALITION CEO, ANDREA BERRY.

When my second child Finnegan was born, my oldest Sullivan had just turned two. It was a wild time — looking back, I can say that babywearing saved me. It would have been nearly impossible to get anything done, had I not learned to use babywearing as a tool. After all, we only have two hands… and the ability to carry an infant while coaxing my two year old off the kitchen counter or shepherding him from running into the street was just not feasible otherwise.

My babywearing journey began with a Moby wrap I received from my baby shower. It was very soft and comfortable, but it was hard to learn how to wrap. I watched a ton of YouTube videos and became a little more comfortable doing it. However, I noticed it loosened after wearing for long periods of time – yet that initial foray into the wrap showed me the incredible value of babywearing. I was able to get out of the house without loading and unloading a huge stroller. I was hands free and the baby was comfortable right next to my heart. He was safe and happy, so I was able to play with and pay attention to my oldest child. I also noticed that strangers where less likely approach and touch my baby while babywearing.

Soon, I saw something on Facebook for a babywearing class, so I attended. They gave me all kinds of great tips. I found out about soft structure carriers, wring slings, and wraps. The ladies at this class were really into it and it was a bit intimidating. Most importantly they educated me on the safety rules to wearing my child, such as to keep your child’s hips safe by making sure his/her knees are at or above hip level (they call this a “Deep seat”) and other rules: baby in view, close enough to kiss. This is to keep the airway safe.

Next I purchased an ergonomic soft structure carrier. It was not a fancy brand name – I think I paid $30 at Ross. I liked it, but Finnegan was still small and for me all the buckles and things were too much.

Finally I found a ring sling. It was intimidated to learn, but once I did it kept Finnegan so close to me. He felt very safe and secure, he immediately went to sleep. He could nurse in it. I even learned to carry him on my back with it. I wore him to business meetings, to workout, walks, playdates, girl’s nights out, to the dentist (literally he slept through my cleaning). I was able to keep up with my toddler and my baby and this is the tool that made the difference.

This is why Healthy Start offers free babywearing classes. Each of our staff has completed a safety training and can help you learn to babywear safely. We distribute slings and teach you how to use them. Mothers, fathers, grandma, aunties are welcomed to join. We are here to help you be the best parent you can be. Check our calendar for the next babywearing class.

Evidence:

Baby wearing increases oxytocin in mother and baby by keeping baby close to you for long periods of time (skin to skin). This can help breastfeeding and bonding. Studies show babies who are worn cry less! It also decreases likelihood of postpartum depression, and allows parents to better recognize cues. For pre-mature babies, babywearing has immense benefits.

References
1 – Hunziker UA, Garr RG. (1986) Increased carrying reduces infant crying: A random-ized controlled trial. Pediatrics 77:641-648
2 – “Current knowledge about skin-to-skin (kangaroo) care for pre-term infants”. J Perinatol. 1991 Sep;11(3):216-26.
3 – Pelaez-Nogueras M, Field TM, Hossain Z, Pickens J. (1996). Depressed mothers’ touching increases infants’ positive affect and attention in still-face interactions. Child Development, 67, 1780-92.
4 – Tessier R, M Cristo, S Velez, M Giron, JG Ruiz-Palaez, Y Charpak and N Charpak. (1998) Kangaroo mother care and the bonding hypothesis. Pediatrics 102:e17.

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