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Baby Wearing FAQ

Many mothers of breastfed babies have asked us for information on the "slings" they see other mothers using. Here is some information on the benefits of carrying your baby in a sling, as well as some safety tips. Much of this information was gleaned from a longer article at AskDrSears.com.

Why Wear Your Baby in a Sling?

  • Babies whose mothers wear them in slings are calmer and cry less. In most cultures, where babies are held almost constantly, they are typically in a quiet alert state and rarely cry for more than brief periods.
  • Slings provide a gentle way of transitioning babies from the calm environment of the womb to that of the outside world. Babies in slings continue to be rocked by their mothers' movements and to hear their mothers' heartbeats. This helps them to regulate their own systems.
  • Babies in slings are more receptive to learning and display enhanced visual and auditory alertness.
  • It facilitates bonding. When babies are held closely, the adult and the baby can see each other's faces, leading to frequent verbal and non-verbal interaction, enhancing speech development.
  • Babies who are carried in a sling facing away from the adult get a bird's eye view of the world and its wonders. This kind of gentle stimulation enables babies to learn about their environment at their own pace.
  • Experiencing a wide variety of stimuli helps babies' brains to develop to their full potential.
  • Mothers are more easily able to calm their babies if they are frightened, providing a safe haven.
  • It is easy to nurse discreetly when the baby is in a sling as the fabric shields both the baby and the mother from the public view.
  • Mothers find it easier to carry on their normal daily activities when they wear their babies. Both their hands are free and their babies are quickly soothed. Housework, shopping, walking for exercise and even using computers become more manageable tasks. Some mothers even take their babies to work in their slings.
  • Older children appreciate that their mothers' free hands can attend to their own needs, like tying shoelaces or making snacks.
  • Traveling is easier when babies are tucked securely into slings.
  • Twins can be worn in slings too ­ one on each side.

Safety Tips

  • At first, help to support your baby in your sling with your hands. When you get used to the extra weight and learn to balance properly, you will feel confident enough to go "hands free."
  • Do not wear your baby in a sling in potentially unsafe situations, like by a cooking stove, when drinking (or carrying) hot beverages, or when using sharp knives.
  • Bend at the knees if you have to pick up an object, keeping one hand on the baby.
  • Remember that toddlers have long reaches, so keep well away from dangerous objects when carrying them in slings.
  • Walk carefully around corners and through doors.
  • When traveling, babies should only ride in approved infant seats made for cars or bicycles, never in slings.

Resources

These articles offer more information about baby wearing:

LLLI Resource page on Baby Wearing
http://www.llli.org/nb/nbbabywearing.html

Slings and breastfeeding
http://www.lalecheleague.org/NB/NBJulAug03p133.html

A baby-friendly world
http://www.lalecheleague.org/NB/NBSepOct03p174.html

The sling walk
http://www.lalecheleague.org/NB/NBMayJun01p94a.html

Can you give me some tips for discreet breastfeeding?
http://www.lalecheleague.org/FAQ/discreet.html

Back to work with baby
http://www.lalecheleague.org/NB/NBJulAug04p154.html

Home work
http://www.lalecheleague.org/NB/NBJanFeb02p16.html

Employed mothers: Supporting breastfeeding and mother-baby attachment
http://www.lalecheleague.org/llleaderweb/LV/LVOctNov01p101.html

FAQ on babywearing from AskDrSears.com
http://www.askdrsears.com/html/5/t051100.asp

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