Crying is your baby’s only one way of communicating what he wants. Newborns cry between one and three hours a day, but by the time your baby is a few weeks old, you will probably be able to distinguish which cry is a hungry cry, a colicky cry and which one means he needs a comforting cuddle. However research has shown that carried babies cry less! Babywearing reduces crying, both frequency and duration, and can improve baby’s sleep. Less crying means more time to be in “quiet absorption’, promoting learning and positive interactions with the world.
In a study published in the journal Pediatrics, researchers found that babywearing for three hours a day reduced infant crying by 43 percent overall and 54 percent during evening hours. (1)
Babies with colic can be hard to soothe, but the motion gained from being gently rocked in a sling while the parent walks often helps to settle them, and good sling that encourages an upright position, can reduce infant reflux, whilst the spread squat position helps relax puborectalis muscle, which will aid bowel movements.
Immediately following the birth, your newborn will sleep around 16 hours in every 24, offering you a chance to rest after the labour. However, before long, your baby will begin waking more often and, at first, at seemingly random times. Newborns have very small stomachs that get hungry very quickly. They sleep in two, three or four hour bursts until they are old enough to go for longer between feeds, and develop their own sleep routine.
Babywearing can help massively here. Many babies nap better and for longer when being carried in a sling. Many parents also report that their baby’s night-time sleep improves when they start carrying them in a sling during the day. This is because regular close skin contact is believed to help babies regulate their circadian rhythms better and distinguish the difference between night and day sleep.
The motion experienced by a baby in a sling allows its vestibular system, or ‘balance’ to develop more rapidly and enhances motor development and muscle strength. Babies who are carried are also less at risk of plagiocephaly (the flattening of the skull bones at the back of the head from prolonged periods lying on the back), as well as improving neck and head control.
Babywearing is also believed to encourage sociability and the formation of family relationships as your baby is able to hear it’s parent’s voice close up, and watch their interactions with the world and other people from a higher vantage point. And there is evidence to suggest that baby’s sense of smell and speech are encouraged by being held close more often.
1 – Hunziker UA, Garr RG. (1986) Increased carrying reduces infant crying: A random-ized controlled trial. Pediatrics 77:641-648