What are the benefits of babywearing & skin-to-skin contact?
Research has shown that “kangaroo care”, the technique of holding premature and full-term newborns skin-to-skin can contribute to optimal neurological development, as well as the skin to skin contact regulating the babys heartbeat and temperature.
The first three months of a baby’s life have also been referred to as the “fourth trimester”, as it is felt that this trimester is an extension of life from the womb.
Until now your baby never knew hunger, could always hear mummy’s heartbeat and was always rocked. It may take a while to adjust to life on the outside, and we can help with that transition!
Here are some of the wonderful benefits of babywearing in the Amawrap!
- Kangaroo Care has been proven to benefit both baby and parent in terms of bonding and attachment. The contact allows baby to hear the parent’s heartbeat which he is accustomed to hearing in the womb, and has been proven to calm him. Research has also proven that preterm babies, when carried, grow at a faster rate than preterm babies who were not. Fully responding to your childs needs and allowing them to attach in infancy allows them to form important neural connections that are the building blocks for their future personality.
- Not only does it also improve parental confidence and a natural tendency to care for the child, for mothers it stimulates breastmilk production and lowers the incidence of postpartum depression.
Reflux & Colic Babies
- Keeping reflux babies upright aids the baby’s digestion, thus preventing further painful regurgitation. Colicky babies also cry less when held close to the mother’s chest, as the contact serves as a gentle massage to baby’s stomach.
Communication & Physical Development
- When we hold our baby close, we become more attuned to their gestures and facial expressions, to the point where we can pick up their cues before they resort to crying. Their trust in you is increased, learning enhanced and confidence reinforced.
- When carried, the baby is more in tune with the your movements and actions. This stimulation allows the baby to exercise his vestibular system, as he gains increased control over his muscles. The baby also gains awareness and familiarity on movements that the mother makes day to day.
A secure & Confident Baby
- As the baby grows older and becomes more aware of her surroundings, stranger anxiety is often exhibited. Being able to hear the mother’s breathing and heartbeat can calm a baby down and ease the stress of an unfamiliar environment.
- Research has shown that babies who were carried frequently were less likely to be clingy and more likely to be independent earlier. As the baby grows up feeling more secure and confident, they venture out independently much earlier.
Decreased risk of positional plagiocephaly
- Plagiocephaly, AKA “flat head syndrome”, can occur when a newborn is placed in a certain position, eg cot or car seat, for long periods of time. Baby slings can mitigate this risk as it often does not require a baby to be resting at the back of her head.
- Imagine navigating around a crowded department store with a pram! Baby wearing allows the parent the use of both hands, whilst keeping baby out of harms way. It is convenient even around the house! The wrap can also double up as a changing mat or blanket when away from home.
Research into the benefits of babywearing
1. Secure Attachments
A study by Anisfeld et al showed that increased physical contact resulted in significantly more secure attachment between mothers and infants. (Mothers received soft baby carriers and were instructed to use them everyday) Eighty-three percent of infants held in baby carriers were securely attached compared to 38% in the control group at 13 months of age. The presumed reason was that carrying the baby leads the parent to provide faster responses to the infant’s crying and cues. Further analysis even showed that sling-wearing positively affected infant-mother attachment beyond simple increased responsiveness of the mother when wearing the baby close.
A randomized controlled trial of full term breastfed infants by Hunziker, et al. found that carrying your baby in arms or in a full body contact baby carrier for at least 3 hours per day (in addition to carrying regularly provided during feeding and in response to crying) reduced daytime crying by 43% and nighttime crying (4pm-12am) by 54%. Also, the normal peak in crying that occurs at 6-weeks of age was practically eliminated.
In a prospective observational study by Furman et al of 119 mothers of very low birth weight infants, kangaroo care was one of the significant correlates that predicted successful lactation beyond 40 weeks corrected age
1. Anisfeld E, Casper V, Nozyce M, Cunningham N. (1990) Does Infant Carrying Promote Attachment? An Experimental Study of the Effects of Increased Physical Contact on the Development of Attachment. Child Development 61:1617-1627.
2. Hunziker UA, Garr RG. (1986) Increased carrying reduces infant crying: A randomized controlled trial. Pediatrics 77:641-648
3. Furman et al., (2002) Correlates of lactation in mothers of very low birth weight infants