In honor of International Babywearing Week (October 1-7), I wanted to share my own babywearing experience along with some evidence-based facts and community input regarding the many benefits of babywearing. My son, now an average, rambunctious 3-year-old, was born two months premature via emergency C-section, weighing just under 4 lbs. We were lucky in the sense that he was generally healthy, but he still stayed in the NICU for a little over a month until he was able to regulate his own body temperature and gain some weight.
One of the best pieces of advice that the nurses stressed constantly was kangaroo care (also called skin-to-skin). They relayed evidence that keeping a newborn baby close (especially a preemie) would aid in bonding, breastfeeding success and overall mother and baby health – all of which we were struggling with. Keeping him close as much as possible made a world of difference for us! Breastfeeding became easier, I healed remarkably fast from the C-section, and he was steadily improving each day.
Once he was released from the NICU, the nurses recommended that I wear him in a wrap or sling so that I could have by arms free to get things done while still keeping him close. Boy, did that make my life as a new mother easier! To this day, I still wear him several times a week on hikes and it provides wonderful mother-son bonding time, putting us both in a great mood.
Show Me the Science!
Anyone who has experience with babywearing will tell you that it definitely has its benefits. However, there are actual studies out there that provide scientific evidence for these benefits, and it turns out there are many! You can find out more by visiting this blog post by We the Parents where these benefits are discussed further. And check out the detailed infographic that covers 23 evidence-based benefits of babywearing along with the scientific studies that back these findings.
Babywearing in our Community
As a Hike it Baby community, babywearing has changed the way we experience the outdoors with our families. From great workouts to incredible family experiences, our community has certainly reaped the benefits of babywearing! Here are just a few of the responses from Hike it Baby members on what they love about wearing their babies and toddlers on the trails.
The Bonding Time
- Olga, Ringwood-Bergen Branch – I just feel soooo connected to my baby!! The snuggles … the love!!
- Nicole, Mountain Home Branch – My 2-year-old and I can chatter back and forth about what we see or hear. He’s getting really good at spotting birds! If he’s on my back, we can go places that aren’t necessarily super safe for kids — we’ve explored canyon rims, geothermal basins, and biologically sensitive areas without worry.
- Christie, Richmond Branch – The back snuggles!
- Connie, Grays Harbor County Branch – Being able to hold conversations and be “together.” I rarely use strollers even in town.
- Vanessa, San Diego Branch – My baby loves to be carried. You can just tell that it is her happy place and she takes long naps while on me. I love seeing her so happy and peaceful. My 3-year-old tolerates being carried, but I love the chats we are able to have while we are walking and pointing out what we see and hear.
- Tanya, Adelaide Branch – How happy he is. My 15-month-old does these little jumps as soon as I put him in the carrier.
- Nicole, Orange County Branch – We go faster!
- Anais, Winnemucca Branch – We can go at my pace and it’s more of a workout … which is more rewarding for me.
- Alexandra, Salt Lake City Branch – Since my youngest is now 4.5 and just about 40 lbs., I enjoy the workout. The conversations we have are always fun and the peace is lovely when he falls asleep. Also, I love that he’s still even willing to be worn!
The Sense of Safety and Security
- Erin, Omaha Branch – I don’t have to worry about my 3-year-old running too far ahead on the trail.
- Jen, Conway-Myrtle Beach Branch – Nursing when [my daughter] was little; she’s now 3 and loves to be worn for comfort. She gets overwhelmed when others are around at times, so she feels safe when I wear her. Plus, she gets to see things from up at my level and it’s a whole different view.
- Tracey, Anchorage Branch – The peace. Both my sons, who are insanely active when NOT on me, turn into relaxed, quiet kids when I wear them. My 3-year-old could be throwing a fit about being worn, but the second he is strapped on his entire demeanor changes.
More Family Adventures
- Colette, Harrisburg Branch – My husband and I have been able to explore so many places because of baby wearing! We just hiked the Narrows in Zion NP with our 3-year-old. That wouldn’t have been possible without a carrier. I love that it enables us to experience more of our world together as a family.
- Laura, La Crosse Branch – I never found a good carrier match for my firstborn. Mastering carrying my youngest has been so empowering since day one! It meant we could still go anywhere and do all the things, even though I’m outnumbered. Now my “baby” is 22 months and this week she conquered the most difficult bluff trail in our area all by herself!!! But of course I still wore the carrier (full of apples – haha) because it’s excellent peace of mind for ALL of us, especially at this age where they can go from bounding with energy to NAP in 10 seconds.
- Vong, Kansas City Branch – We went to Yellowstone last year and it was so nice not to worry about the toddler falling into the pools.
- Melissa, Hampton Roads Branch – When my youngest was little: nursing on the go! He nursed coooooonstantly so it would have been really hard to go anywhere if I had to sit down every time he wanted to eat.
Below are just some of the Hike it Baby families who have enjoyed the benefits of babywearing.
What do you love about babywearing? Let us know in the comments below!
- 9 tips for soothing a cranky baby on the trail
- Hiking with young infants: Tips and Tricks
- Hiking with a newborn
Featured photos by Amy Diebold and Laura Castro. Profile photos courtesy of Shanti, Rebecca, Vong, Vanessa, Adrienne, Mindy, Nicole, Jen and Tracey.