Meet Mark

Let me introduce myself. My name is Mark Sisson. I’m 63 years young. I live and work in Malibu, California. In a past life I was a professional marathoner and triathlete. Now my life goal is to help 100 million people get healthy. I started this blog in 2006 to empower people to take full responsibility for their own health and enjoyment of life by investigating, discussing, and critically rethinking everything we’ve assumed to be true about health and wellness...

Tell Me More
Stay Connected
January 29, 2013

Why You Should Wear (or Carry) Your Baby (At Least Some of the Time)

By Mark Sisson
193 Comments

Hold the BabyFor hundreds of thousands of years, humans have been trying to figure out ways to avoid carrying their infants so that they could drink Frappucinos and update their Facebook status on their phones. Ancestral Inuit mothers had sled dog strollers placed on top of skis. Native Australians kept several varieties of marsupials megafauna as pets and infant caretakers, using their pouches to store up to a half dozen human infants at once. I’m kidding, of course. Just as all members of the family hominidae are and were ardent co-sleepers, apes, humans, and (most likely) all extinct hominids carried or even wore their infants on their bodies as a general rule. And so, for most of human history, our infants have been swaddled, slung, carried, grasped, hugged, and otherwise attached to our bodies for a significant portion of their early development. Like other environmental inputs to which our ancestors were routinely and consistently exposed, there’s plenty of evidence that carrying your baby confers beneficial physiological and psychological effects – to both child and parent.

What are they?

Well, there’s one benefit that’s immediate and obvious to anyone, even those without kids. Parents, ever notice how your babies, who’re liable to erupt into tears when placed in the stroller, in the crib, or in the car seat, clam up when you decide to carry them? Non-parents, ever notice how those screaming hellions who annoy you in public places become pacified mutes once their caregiver picks them up, quiet and sweet enough that you can even imagine having one someday? Exactly. The kid stops crying, or maybe never even starts.

The idea behind babywearing/babyholding/kangaroo care/attachment parenting/whatever you want to call it is that since infants are helpless sacks of fleshy potential, we should provide all the support and reassurance they need to graduate to independent, intelligent, thinking, learning, growing, maturing kids and, eventually, adults. We want them to realize that potential, and it just might be that being what some might characterize as “overly nurturing” is the best way to do it. What does the research say about maintaining close physical contact with your baby?

Breastfeeding.

Easier breastfeeding. Babywearing increases the mother’s ability to breastfeed, just like co-sleeping increases it, simply because of proximity. When you’ve got a hungry little fella within striking distance of the “bottle” at all times, it’s hard not to do it more often. You all know how important breastmilk is to a baby. Babywearing streamlines the logistics of breastfeeding, oftentimes allowing the mother to nurse hands-free.

Promotes exclusive breastfeeding. One randomized controlled trial found that early skin-t0-skin contact “significantly enhanced the success of first breastfeed and continuation of exclusive breastfeeding.”

Not breastfeeding? Having your baby attached to you, rather than laid out on a mat somewhere, allows you to bottle feed and still reap the benefits of being physically close to your child. The composition of the breastmilk is a huge benefit to breastfeeding, but I’d argue that the mutual touch is equally important.

Benefits for baby.

Increased socialization. I told myself I wouldn’t talk about children in terms of dog training, but it just works so well in this case. Children need to be socialized. They’re going to be a part of this world, this society, this community, and wearing or carrying them around as you go about your day, interacting with people, and doing “adult” things as often as you can will introduce them to that world in a safe way. You’re not keeping them cloistered in a pen for years interspersed with brief moments of engagement with the world (playdates, playgrounds, car rides, shopping trips, etc.). You’re letting them see the world through your eyes on a constant, daily basis. Because with all else being equal they’ll have more exposure to communicating adults, carried/worn babies will likely learn speech and facial expressions more quickly (that’s how babies learn language, after all).

Improved development of the vestibular system. No, the vestibular system is not a collection of hospitable planets that the colonial fleet from Battlestar Galactica used to hide from the Cylons. It’s the brain system that detects motion and controls balance, and it’s one of the earliest brain systems to develop (ten-week old fetuses already have working vestibular systems). When a baby is worn or carried on the body, rather than lying in a stroller staring at the sky, the inside of the stroller, or a baby iPhone, the baby is privy to the constant motion of an ambulating adult. The worn baby is moving as you move. To the baby, what you’re doing – walking on two feet without tripping over them or teetering over to either side – is amazing, it’s unheard of. And it will help the baby develop balance, motor skills, and general movement ability.

Benefits for mom and dad.

Improved ergonomics. I cringe every time I see a mom or dad carting around those removable car seats. Imagine lugging around an oversized kettlebell where ever you go and you’ll get the idea. You might get stronger, but the added, unceasing, ever-increasing weight, plus the awkwardness of the size and shape of the seat which forces you to hold it away from your body and thereby increase the lever arm, can put your musculoskeletal system at risk. Factor in the sleep deprivation-induced poor posture (PDF) common in parents of youngsters and you have a potent recipe for body pain.

Less crying. Picking up a crying child doesn’t just halt the crying right there and then. Done habitually, carrying or babywearing can also reduce crying in general. Babies who are held for at least a few hours a day are less likely to cry at night.

Reduces the risk of postpartum anxiety disorder. Physical contact with the infant increases (and decreases, when appropriate) a number of physiological markers, including oxytocin, and reduces the maternal anxiety thought to be a risk factor for postpartum depression.

Benefits for mom/dad and baby.

Improved attachment. It ain’t called “attachment parenting” for nothing. Being physically attached to your kid, through wearing or carrying, increases the bond between parents and child. You really can’t separate the two. Physical attachment breeds psychological attachment. If you maintain physical contact with your baby as much as possible, you’ll have a stronger, more lasting bond with that child, that teen, that adult. Even the first few moments of a child’s life are crucial. Immediate post-birth skin-to-skin contact between mother and naked child had a positive influence on mother-child interactions one year later. The same benefits were not observed when the infants were dressed/swaddled before being handed over to the mom after being born.

Oxytocin release. Oxytocin has been called many things, but it’s most famous as a promoter of bonds between people (and animals). Pleasing, welcome touch – like the caress of a lover or the skin-to-skin contact of a babywearing mother-infant duo – causes oxytocin secretion. This strengthens bonds between parent and child, increases empathy, and solidifies and establishes familial ties. Heck, oxytocin is so subtly powerful that even administering it exogenously to just the parent alone has beneficial effects on their child, improving their “physiological and behavioral readiness for social engagement.” Imagine how important the endogenous steady drip of oxytocin in habitual babywearing is for child-parent relationships.

Benefits for preterm infants.

Babywearing is particularly beneficial for preterm infants. These little guys and gals need close physical contact with their parents more than anyone – remember, they’re still “supposed” be in the womb.

Improved bonding. Remember how skin-to-skin post-birth contact improves mother-child interactions later on down the line? That holds true for preterm infants as well. Mothers allowed to practice skin-to-skin holding of preterm infants in intensive care also reported feelings of increased comfort and “being needed” by their babies – an excellent feeling, as any parent will attest, and a particularly important one for mothers of preterm infants.

Lower stress. Wearing your preterm baby will help lower stress and modulate the infant’s cortisol response, which tends to be exaggerated in that group.

Improved pain tolerance. One study compared kangaroo care (skin-to-skin) to incubator care for modulation of the the pain response in preterm infants; babies who got kangaroo care showed improved behavioral and physiological responses to physical pain.

Improved brain development. Preterm infants are at risk of impaired neuronal development, but one recent study found that kangaroo care effectively normalized premature brains when compared to standard care. The neonates (who were “very pre-term”) given skin-to-skin contact displayed brain motor function comparable to adolescents who were born at term, while the neonates given standard care did not.

Better breastfeeding. It’s crucial for preterm babies to get breastmilk, since, well, it’s the perfect food for them, and early skin-to-skin contact between mom and baby helps the youngest neonates breastfeed.

All that said, the reality is that 24/7 babywearing is tough. These days, most parents work outside of the home. We generally don’t spend our days at home, doing the day-to-day things to survive like cooking, cleaning, foraging, that pre-industrial cultures were able to do while wearing their children. Carrie and I tried out the slings with our kids, but it didn’t really work for us as a constant, regular thing. We carried them as often as we could, usually without the use of a carrier or sling, and were sure to get plenty of skin-to-skin contact, but we didn’t do it all day, every day. And you know what? They turned out to be fantastic, independent kids. Constant baby-wearing isn’t necessary, but some daily contact is probably (definitely) best.

Babies, and humans in general, need to be touched in a loving, reassuring, comforting way. I wrote about this in The Primal Connection, and I’m adamant about it: we’re largely afraid of touch, and that’s a real shame. If you’re not going to hug your friends, at the very least hug (and carry, and hold, and wear) your kids. I realize the lawyer’s not going to wear her newborn into court, nor is the pilot going to wear his baby on the plane. But babies need touch. Full-on attachment is probably ideal, in a perfect world – but don’t beat yourself up if you can’t. It’s not a perfect world.

Lack of meaningful touch, though? There’s no excuse for that one.

When you do carry or wear a child, you should do it safely (for both mom/dad and kid) and effectively. Next week, I’ll discuss how to do it. In the meantime, just go pick up a baby (preferably yours).

Subscribe to the Newsletter

If you'd like to add an avatar to all of your comments click here!

Leave a Reply

193 Comments on "Why You Should Wear (or Carry) Your Baby (At Least Some of the Time)"

avatar

Sort by:   newest | oldest | most voted
Deanna
3 years 7 months ago

This is great, thank you. I “wore” my last baby and it was such a great bonding experience for us. I miss it!!

Martha
Martha
3 years 7 months ago
I carried all three of my children back in the early 70’s with LaLeche’s soft sling thing that they had just come out with. It could be worn on the front or the back. The only drawback was when they figured out how to get to the milk when they wanted — resulting in flashing more people in malls than a streaker on a football field. When my oldest was 4, I had her on a leash (or climbing my leg), the two year old on my back, and my youngest, newborn, slung in front. What was I thinking! LOL.
Decaf Debi
Decaf Debi
3 years 7 months ago

As two parents working outside the home when our kids were infants, we missed a lot of the touching-time that babies need. But we did our best when we were together to hold them rather than resort to swings and bouncing seats that I see so many other parents using.

On a side note, I love how the 5th related post is “Tender Grilled Baby Octopus”. Gotta love meta tags. 🙂

Erin
Erin
3 years 7 months ago

I have the Boba 3G,a soft structured carrier, and I absolutely love it. I’ve used it since my baby was around 10 pounds. It can be used for an infant up to toddler without any special insert. It’s fantastic for walking around the grocery store. My daughter loves checking everything, and everyone, out!

ProudDaddy
ProudDaddy
3 years 7 months ago

Anyone have recommendations for slings/baby carriers?

dgm
dgm
3 years 7 months ago

We used the Maya Wrap http://www.mayawrap.com/ It is super lightweight but incredibly sturdy and versatile. I miss those days of wearing my babies!

Abby
Abby
3 years 7 months ago

i second the Maya Wrap! I’m using it with my third baby now on a daily basis. Just today I was in Target carrying her around nursing and nobody could tell. It’s super comfortable and convenient

Karen
Karen
3 years 7 months ago

I used a Moby Wrap–actually I just made one out of six feet of pink jersey fabric. Cut it up the middle, then sewed the ends together to make it 12′. It was very useful and flexible.

Annemarie
Annemarie
3 years 7 months ago

I LOVE the Moby! It’s better that you made your own. I’m impressed! 🙂

Karen
Karen
3 years 7 months ago

I’m just cheap 😉

Sarah
Sarah
3 years 7 months ago

I did the exact same thing! Pink homemade moby.

Mik
3 years 7 months ago
Moby wraps (bought or homemade) are only good until baby is about 6 months (sooner if they are chunky monkies) after that they start to sag under the weight of baby which can be extremely unsafe. Mobys are also NOT conducive to back carries regardless of what their website says (suggesting that they are is nothing short of irresponsible). I am ardent supporter of PROPER babywearing which includes NO CROTCH DANGLING! Woven wraps are excellent choices that will last into toddlerhood (yes, we wear our toddlers in this house). There is a steeper learning curve but they are awesome! 2… Read more »
Julia
Julia
3 years 7 months ago

I have a whole series dedicated to babywearing! I’ve reviewed several of them and have links to where to get them. 🙂 My site is naturallifemom dot com.

Rachel
Rachel
3 years 7 months ago

We have a 10 month old and have had GREAT success with the Moby Wrap and an Ergo carrier. We used the Moby from the time he was a week old (big baby), and at 9 months got an Ergo so we could carry him on our backs more easily.

Genevieve
Genevieve
3 years 7 months ago

I’ve tried every type of carrier imaginable. By far, my favorite has been the BECO Gemini for infants and the ERGO for older infants/toddlers. You can wear a newborn in the BECO Gemini and it is much easier to use than a wrap or ring sling. Both the BECO and the ERGO are known as soft structured carriers. Pouch slings are also great for young infants and there is virtually no learning curve.

Sabrina
3 years 7 months ago

I second the Beco Gemini. My son HATED being in the Moby, hated slings and hated the Ergo infant insert– he wanted his legs free. He loved the Beco from 2 months old and I still use it now that he’s a year old.

Veronica
Veronica
3 years 7 months ago

I’ll third the BECO. Even my husband wore it. We took the kids everywhere with us and tried many different baby wearing devices. The BECO was by far the easiest for us when we were out and about. I loved the sling but when the baby wasn’t in it, my husband liked to call me “mom America” because it just looked like a sash. I think we stopped using the BECO when the kids hit 2yrs old.

Oly
Oly
3 years 7 months ago

I love Jan’s ring slings — sleeping baby productions. I got mine with the pocket which fits a spitty rag, onesie, my wallet. Clip my keys to the ring and I carry my baby instead of a purse

Susan
Susan
3 years 7 months ago

Yep. I give another vote to Jan at Sleeping Baby Productions. Great quality ring slings.
I also love German Style Woven Wraps, Moby Wraps for little babies, and Two Mamas Designs for soft structured carriers.

Beth
Beth
3 years 7 months ago

I love Baby K’tan carriers. They are easy enough to put on anywhere, if they get dirty just throw it in the wash, comfortable for both you & baby, and you can wear baby in different positions. So far it’s my favorite that I’ve tried (I’ve had 4 different types so far).
If I had to pick a second place it would be a Hot Sling but my older daughter didn’t like being in the sling until she could sit up.

Kristin
3 years 7 months ago

We used the Moby Wrap until our daughter was about 6 months old. Then we started using an Ergo carrier, which we are still using occasionally even though she’s almost four. (We only use it on hikes these days. She’s a tough little kid, but not quite big enough to get up a mountain completely under her own power.)

I also bought my sister a Boba carrier (similar to the Ergo, but can be used for tiny babies with no additional insert) and she says it’s really great.

Janet in California
Janet in California
3 years 7 months ago

I love the Moby Wrap- http://www.mobywrap.com/mw/Home.htm Make sure to watch the videos on how to wrap it! One size fits all for both parents and baby. It can take a little practice but is worth it. And you can wear baby skin to skin and still feel covered.

Michelle
3 years 7 months ago

Nuroo pouch for wearing around the house is great too, it is a shirt/carrier. Great for skin-on-skin contact, since the baby is actually against your chest

Weatherwax
Weatherwax
3 years 7 months ago
I tried a Baby Bjorn, a basic D-ring sling, and a Maya Wrap (which is basically just a really long piece of woven cloth). The Maya Wrap won hands down, despite the steeper learning curve. The Baby Bjorn drove me crazy because you can’t adjust the straps to pull the baby higher or closer to your chest. It felt like I was wearing a too-loose backpack, except worse. I hated it. The D-ring sling was okay, but not very versatile–and it turned out my daughter didn’t like the lying-down-in-a-pea-pod thing. It looked comfy to me, but I guess it wasn’t.… Read more »
b2curious
b2curious
3 years 7 months ago

Okay, I’m making myself crazy. You’re going to have to explain the difference between the D-ring sling and the Maya Wrap. I tried Google and got the same basic results for both of them. I am very confused now, especially since the Maya Wrap is a ring sling….

Weatherwax
Weatherwax
3 years 7 months ago

ACK! the Maya Wrap WAS the ring sling. The one I loved was called an EllaRoo. It must have looked mayan to me. Sorry.

b2curious
b2curious
3 years 7 months ago
Ah, thank you for correction. I loved my Maya Wrap style sling and found it to be fairly versatile. Mind you, I didn’t get mine until my daughter was about 10 months. I usually used the hip carry, or, when she was a bit older the back carry. I don’t see the back carry listed on their site anymore, but it was back in mid 2003. The EllaRoo looks nice, and I vaguely remember looking at something like that before I got my sling, but decided against it because we were heading into summer, in Arkansas, where it’s not uncommon… Read more »
ponymama
ponymama
3 years 7 months ago

I used(both kids and now grandkids) a old flour sack dish towel, just like a sling thingy. Din’t cost any thing, got it from my grandmother for a wedding gift.

Laura
Laura
3 years 7 months ago

I loved, loved, loved my ergo baby carrier.

Lani
Lani
3 years 7 months ago

There really are so many options: ring slings, soft-structured carriers, mei tais, woven wraps and more. Some well-regarded brands to look at: Boba, Beco, Pikkolo, Tula Baby, Kinderpack (buckle soft-structured carriers); Sakura Bloom, Kalea Baby, Sleeping Baby Productions (ring slings); BabyHawk, Kozy, Freehand (mei tai carriers); Didymos, Natibaby, Girasol, Storchenwige (woven wraps) and so many more. If you are interested in babywearing, a great resource is thebabywearer.com. It’s an online community devoted to all things babywearing and bw’ing related.

Lani
Lani
3 years 7 months ago

This is the website I referenced for babywearing:

http://www.thebabywearer.com

BabyCalm
3 years 7 months ago

Here’s a good description of different types of slings and carriers and their pros and cons, might help some of you wanting help with choosing one: http://sarahockwell-smith.com/2013/01/01/how-to-choose-the-right-sling-or-carrier-for-you-and-your-baby/

MusicMama
MusicMama
3 years 7 months ago

I really loved the Ergo carrier. Could wear on front, side or back. I was able to wear my son on my back until he was 3 or 4. It was great and still in such great shape that I passed it along to my sister.

Wayne Atwell
3 years 7 months ago

I feel left out with all of these baby/parenting posts lately 🙁

Paleo Bon Rurgundy
3 years 7 months ago

Turn that frown upside down and enjoy it! There is no returning from that leap.

Wayne Atwell
3 years 7 months ago

That comment did turn my frown upside down. I’m glad I have time to go to the gym whenever I want.

Amy
Amy
3 years 7 months ago

+1 on what Ron said. I really do like and love being a Mom, but definitely enjoy any kid free time that the universe has given you.

Meesha
Meesha
3 years 7 months ago

Lol! Parents feel left out when the conversation shifts to the best time of day to work out. For parents it ranges from ‘never’ to ‘maybe when the kids are asleep, if I don’t fall asleep, too’. All that talk about 2 hours after breakfast, or right after lunch, or before dinner were entertaining to read, but completely useless to someone with kids.

Katie
Katie
3 years 7 months ago

Uh, that comment would apply to anyone with a job, not just parents.

Natalie
Natalie
3 years 7 months ago

Um, no, jobs typically take about 8-10 hours out of the waking 16. Parenting lasts a leeeetle bit longer.

Grokesque
Grokesque
3 years 7 months ago

So do I because my children are too big for slings/breast feeding etc! Just makes me wish I could go back and do some things better. But at least if you or anyone you know has a baby at some time in the future, you’ll have so much good advice to offer!

Heather
Heather
3 years 7 months ago
All my babies are now well over 6 feet tall now. They were all big babies as well, but I did a lot of things one handed while I held a baby on my hip. I was a stay at home mum as my hubby sailed the seven seas for 7 months of the year, so I got really good at fixing anything while attached to a baby. However I couldn’t find a sling that was really comfortable (80’s), and I ended up with scholiosis (?) a twisted spine, that needed months of chiropractic care to fix. Now my strapping… Read more »
Susie
3 years 7 months ago

Same here! No in a bad way, but I don’t have kiddos. This has been really good to learn about and start setting up my expectations for when I do… At least you don’t have to mentally prepare yourself for childbirth without pitocin or an epidural. It will take me the next several years until I’m ready to have a baby to get ready for THAT.

em
em
3 years 7 months ago

Heh. Childbirth *with* pitocin requires much more mental preparation than childbirth without.

Karen
Karen
3 years 7 months ago

Indeed. Childbirth with pitocin is labor on the front of a freight train…..

Susie
3 years 7 months ago

Good point 😉 scratch the pitocin – but still, epidural-free doesn’t sound fun!

HL
HL
3 years 7 months ago

I don’t think childbirth with an epidural sounds fun. Not being able to feel what your body wants you to do sounds terrible to me! Both my birth experiences were intervention-free attended by a CNM, and while labor is intense and yes, painful I wouldn’t want to have missed a minute of it. Pushing out a baby is not something you’ll be doing every day, so if you don’t try to experience it fully you may never get a chance!

Julia
3 years 7 months ago

That’s where water comes in, the midwives epidural. 🙂

MusicMama
MusicMama
3 years 7 months ago

+1 (Loved my midwife and home birth!)

Joe
Joe
3 years 7 months ago

+1, Wayne

Kristin
Kristin
3 years 7 months ago

I used a moby wrap for the first 4 months, and I just got an ergo carrier…it is hands down the best baby item I’ve purchased!! Super easy to use and very daddy friendly, no complicated wrapping required.

bjjcaveman
3 years 7 months ago
No babies yet… but when they do come around I’ll know what to do! Funny thing though, not sure if it’s entirely related, in my bjj class, there’s an autistic kid and his dad who come around to train occasionally, and when they’re on the mats wrestling around and doing BJJ the kid really perks up and you can feel a tangible joy emanating from him… After these articles, I’m now thinking it may have to do with the constant touch and close contact that normally happens in grappling sports that may be having the positive impact on him… Sports… Read more »
Paleo Bon Rurgundy
3 years 7 months ago

Totally did a double take on your class. At first glance I was like, “WTF!?” Paused. Squinted at your avatar and put two and two together: brazilian jujitsu.

bjjcaveman
3 years 7 months ago

i can see where the source of confusion is….

Weatherwax
Weatherwax
3 years 7 months ago
Wow, that’s interesting. I loved to roughhouse when I was a kid, and was disappointed when I got old enough to learn that I wasn’t supposed to do it. I think you’re right–there’s something about grappling sports, or just grappling play, that’s really fun. It’s a very positive kind of contact. And if you think about it, it’s a lot like the kind of play other animals indulge in–wrestling, chasing, rolling each other over. Play fighting isn’t just learning to fight for real, it’s a form of socializing for young mammals. As an aside, wrestling is a big deal locally,… Read more »
bjjcaveman
3 years 7 months ago

There was a mother daughter combo in one of the classes I attended and you could tell both were having a blast! It was a great way for them to bond.

I tried to get my mom to do it, and while she had fun, she didn’t want to pursue it anymore… she’s in her 60s now and just likes to take things super easy… no matter how much I try to get her to exercise.

Heather
Heather
3 years 7 months ago

Wrestling is very important, not only between kids but also with an adult thrown in, particulary a dad. It’s good for the contact side of things, but also learning limits, and control. My big teens still wrestle occasionally.

Weatherwax
Weatherwax
3 years 7 months ago

My brothers did that too, well into their late teens.

Kathy S.
3 years 7 months ago
Heck yeah, babywearing! We did this with both kids. The older one hated being swaddled/cuddled/held but he loved the sling as long as his arms were free and he could see where we were going at all times. I think he liked the movement. The younger one refused to NOT be held/carried, ever, and we had every babycarrier known to man with her — sling, Snuggi, backpack, the whole works. Pushing a stroller through a crowded airport where all the swinging luggage is at your child’s face level vs. carrying your baby or toddler securely against your body in a… Read more »
Ruth
Ruth
3 years 7 months ago

I used to Ergo my kids and pile the stroller high with luggage through the airport. I can’t imagine having a baby in the carseat, having to take it out, fold everything up, put it through the x-ray, etc. Babywearing is so much easier!

Amy
Amy
3 years 7 months ago

Strollers are very good for surburia. Backpacks and slings are absolute made for the “wilds” and the urban jungle. Plus you never have a “oops, where did I leave the baby/stroller”, especially in a crowd.

The other serious benefit of a backpack as they get older is they are far less likely to get bored and want out. Strollers beg my daughter to get out of them. However, a backpack is good for pretty well as long as we can stand up.

Sarah
Sarah
3 years 7 months ago
Moby wraps (and similar knockoffs) are fantastic, super-comfortable to wear and good for the baby in terms of how their little legs are positioned. (Crotch-danglers, like the Baby Bjorn carrier, can lead to problems with hip development and baby boys especially don’t tend to enjoy being in them for long). The only downside to wrap-style carriers is that there’s a bit of a learning curve figuring them out. For new-newborns, you want them VERY snug and quite high up on your body, as they grown and take up more space, you start putting on the carrier lower and looser. There… Read more »
Genevieve
Genevieve
3 years 7 months ago

There are a lot of GREAT videos on YouTube showing all the different kinds of carriers and how to use them.

trackback

[…] read this article from Mark’s Daily Apple about the benefits of carrying your child rather than pushing them […]

Jessica
Jessica
3 years 7 months ago

I just love all these baby posts lately Mark! I am all about baby wearing!! It feels very natural and honestly after the first one, it is just easier to wear the second (or third in my case who is due any day now). I LOVE my moby wrap! It doesn’t hurt your back or shoulders. I REALLY want an Ergo for when the baby gets bigger… 🙂

Babies can only see the face in front of them… they must feel a greater sense of comfort knowing momma and the milk is RIGHT there.

Jen
Jen
3 years 7 months ago

I agree. Great timing for me with all the baby posts as I am 26 weeks with my first child. And I’m reading ALL the comments. Learning a lot and thinking about things I might otherwise have never thought about.

Janet in California
Janet in California
3 years 7 months ago

One of the other great things about wearing the baby is it keeps germy strangers at a distance. When babies are in strollers or buckets it is really easy for random people to come up and touch them! They have to be pretty bold to touch your baby when he/she is on your body.

Sheindal
Sheindal
3 years 7 months ago
Didn’t work with me unfortunately, I once was carrying my young son aged about 3 months I think, at a wedding fair, and a man I was talking to about wedding dresses stuck his finger right in my baby’s mouth! (Which apparently he did with his granddaughter so that made it ok.) I was frantically trying to think how I could persuade an infant to rinse and spit…And then to add insult to injury as I thought I was actually quite slim considering I’d not long had a baby, he asked me if I was a size 18/20 (US 16/18)…
Michelle
3 years 7 months ago

I love all of these baby posts lately! I plan on co-sleeping, baby-wearing, and breastfeeding, but it is nice to be reassured that my choices are the best ones for our little ones.

Sarah
Sarah
3 years 7 months ago

I still wear my two-year-old at the grocery store, which makes people stare, but it keeps him from taking bites out of the food in the cart.

Karen C.
Karen C.
3 years 7 months ago

Ha! I realized today that I can’t go shopping with my 2-year-old any more unless I wear her. She took a bite out of a green bell pepper (that I hadn’t planned on buying!) and I had to snatch her hand quickly out of the bin of dried pineapple rings! Luckily, she still likes the Ergo.

Sarah
Sarah
3 years 7 months ago

Mine always bites all the bananas. Once he crushed a clove of organic garlic that I wasn’t going to buy.

Amy
Amy
3 years 7 months ago

Ha ha!

Ruth
Ruth
3 years 7 months ago
Babywearing is such a great tool when you have two children – if you can strap one on, then you have two hands for the other! And I would never use a Baby Bjorn – the baby’s legs dangle too much, putting too much pressure on the spine. Think of babies as little frogs – you want the legs to be bent almost to their chest, like sitting down in the carrier. Also, Baby Bjorns face out and I don’t think babies feel as secure facing out. When they are carried facing in or sideways they have the easy option… Read more »
Amy
Amy
3 years 7 months ago

I always feel sorry for the little babies in the Baby Bjorn things. It’s like the babies are some weird growth on your chest (get it off, get it off!!), rather than carried.

Jesrad
Jesrad
3 years 7 months ago

“Parents, ever notice how your babies, who’re liable to erupt into tears when placed in the stroller, in the crib, or in the car seat, clam up when you decide to carry them?”

So true ! My 9-m-old son will crawl all the way to me and climb my leg whenever possible so I will pick him up, all the time – and protests loudly when I drop him back. When he’s in our arms he never cries, and usually smiles and laughs instead.

Paleo-curious
3 years 7 months ago

I’m a big believer in carrying, but I had twins, which complicated matters! A couple of times I tried one in front & one in back, but that was too much for me & anyway the one in back wasn’t as happy. Same issue with strolling one & carrying the other.

When my husband was with me though, we often used the carriers. I was nursing constantly then, it seemed, & many times would combine a walk & a meal– had to be on guard for prying passers-by, though!

defrog
defrog
3 years 7 months ago

Making me want another one even more! My three-year old is too big to carry all the time now, and we stopped nursing about a year ago. While I love my “Big Girl,” I miss my little baby!!

Dawn
3 years 7 months ago

I am a Doula & a Childbirth Educator, and I must say, I already loved Mark & this website is my second home, but lately, I love it all so much more! Co-sleeping! Baby-wearing! This website really is the best Lifestyle source out there. Keep it up!

Jen
Jen
3 years 7 months ago

What is so bad about the removable car seats? Please fill me in, folks. (soon-to-be first time mom here)

defrog
defrog
3 years 7 months ago

Nothing wrong, per-se, but they are insanely heavy and awkward to carry once your little one gets over 12 or 15 pounds (3-6 months old, maybe? Mine was born at 10 pounds, so its hard to tell). It is much much easier to use a baby sling to carry baby for longer periods of time, or over uneven surfaces (like at a farm or on a hike).

Congrats and Happy Labor Day!

b2curious
b2curious
3 years 7 months ago

Not to mention the fact that they’re only good up to a certain weight, which means that for people like us, with big babies (my second was slightly over 10 lbs at birth), they’re only good for a couple of months, then you need a new carseat anyway.

Primal Donna
Primal Donna
3 years 7 months ago

Bad for baby’s spine, motor development, digestive system (curved position compresses stomach), breathing.
http://www.drmomma.org/2010/02/aap-car-seats-lower-oxygen-levels-of.html
Most European countries discourage use of car seats except in the car. I had 3 babies, kept them out of car seats as much as possible, and have worked with babies for 10 years. The less time they spend in a car seat, the better their development, in every way.

Dawn
3 years 7 months ago

The baby’s head lolls forward in the carrier seats & it reduces the amount of oxygen baby is receiving by up to 20%. Long periods of time this way can be dangerous to brain function and development.

Weatherwax
Weatherwax
3 years 7 months ago

They’re no fun to carry! It’s like lugging around . . . uh . . . luggage, I guess. The hard kind. The not rolly kind. The kind that whacks you in the back of the leg.

Seriously, though, they’re not dangerous or anything. I occasionally carried mine around when my daughter was zonked out in it. And I stuck her in it when I wanted to shower. Otherwise, carrying her in the sling was just easier.

Karen C.
Karen C.
3 years 7 months ago
Removable car seats (“baby buckets”) are GREAT for the car! They’re awesome for getting baby buckled in inside when it’s raining or snowing, or for bringing the baby into the house when they fall asleep in the car. But the are AWFUL otherwise…and really aren’t meant to be used the way people end up using them! They are awkward and heavy to carry – you’ll likely end up with back or pelvis issues if you do it for too long. They aren’t good for bonding, for the baby’s social development, or the baby’s muscular development – baby wearing or carrying… Read more »
Amy
Amy
3 years 7 months ago

We called our babies’ infant car seats their “box”. We tried to take them out of the box as often as possible.

Hilary
Hilary
3 years 7 months ago

Haha! We called them their Tupperware. Hated those things!

Amy
Amy
3 years 7 months ago
Congrats! As others have said, it gets awkward and heavy very quickly. Someone seemed to have designed the seat with 65 per mile crashes in mind, rather than ease of carrying. 😉 I weightlift once or twice a week and I still totally find them awkward. Our solution: bring a sling/backpack but also have an empty “frame” stroller meant specifically to put an infant car seat in that we kept in the car. (Not a travel system – these are like new $50 and take most car seats.) My babies always seemed to sleep in the car. With the frame… Read more »
Jen
Jen
3 years 7 months ago

Thanks for the info, folks. I will definitely keep it all in mind. It’s great to hear from all of you parents!

Julia
Julia
3 years 7 months ago

I wrote a post about why it is better to wear your baby than use the car seat carrier. You can find it here: http://naturallifemom.com/2012/10/why-should-you-wear-your-baby/

Anon
3 years 7 months ago

I held my babies all the time, but could never figure out the baby sling I had. I tried and tried but mostly just looked like I was suffocating them or about to fall through the side closest to me…
I should have had someone actually show me.
A video of someone showing how to do this would be great addition to this post.

Violette_R
Violette_R
3 years 7 months ago

True story: a friend of mine got on the subway wearing her baby and carrying the stroller just in case. Two dudes got in fight and one grabbed the stroller to use as a weapon. Babywearing may have saved her kid’s life.

Amy
Amy
3 years 7 months ago

The dudes may have not grabbed it with a baby in it, though. Far less effective weapon when it’s full of little tiny human. That said, babywearing is hands down the best in emergency situations like that. No need grab the baby/figure out the stroller thing – just act and react.

CrazyCatLady
CrazyCatLady
3 years 7 months ago

I love how you promoted this for bottle feeding moms too. I know too many mothers who feel sad and judged because for various reasons their body would not cooperate with breast feeding.

Personally, I see a baby, I think “Cute baby!” Doesn’t matter if it is latched to a bottle or a breast. The mom is doing the best she can with what she knows. (Granted, more education may be needed, but that needs to happen before baby arrives and in the general public.)

Amy
Amy
3 years 7 months ago

I had a neighbor when my eldest son was born who was sort of an early “granola”. She breastfed in the 60’s/70’s when it wasn’t particularly in. Her last set of children was twins, however, and she literally couldn’t keep up. (She was a very petite woman.)

When I told we were planning to breastfeed, she was very happy but she told us not to fret if it couldn’t happen. She found she could cuddle and love them just as much when she fed them formula. Nice lady, she was. 🙂

Kristin
Kristin
3 years 7 months ago

I love, love, love that you are tackling these parenting topics!

Peace Karen
Peace Karen
3 years 7 months ago

Here is Esther Gokhale’s suggestion for the best way to hold your baby in your arms to help maintain your baby’s naturally perfect posture. http://www.kiwimagonline.com/2012/02/posture-perfect-the-best-way-to-hold-your-baby/

trackback

[…] For hundreds of thousands of years, humans have been trying to figure out ways to avoid carrying their infants so that they could drink Frappucinos and update their Facebook status on their phones. Ancestral Inuit mothers had sled dog strollers placed on top of skis. Native Australians kept several varieties of marsupials megafauna as pets […]… Mark’s Daily Apple […]

The Crunchy Mama
3 years 7 months ago

Loved carrying my babies in slings and wraps. It felt so right.

Ashley
Ashley
3 years 7 months ago

Men, don’t forget: baby-wearing dads are sexy!!!

Loving MDA more with every post!

Becky H
Becky H
3 years 7 months ago

My grandson was born in Savannah, Georgia – dad is in the Army. It never failed, when we were all out and about with grandson in the K’tan (best baby sling IMHO) that passers-by would nudge each other and say, “Look! the Daddy’s got the baby!” Gotta love the South! And … gotta love baby-wearing. I had a La Leche denim front carrier, it was awesome.

Kathy
3 years 7 months ago
I love these posts because now I see that I did do it right. My three babies all slept in our bed til about a year old. They woke up much at night because they were breastfed, much more than my friends’ babies, but then when they reached 1 1/2 or two, they were sleeping solidly without the fears and problems that other toddlers had. And about carrying – especially my firstborn was carried everywhere. I lived at my work and used to carry him around most of the day while I did things. One of my colleagues said to… Read more »
Anon
3 years 7 months ago

All 3 of my babies slept with us. So much easier to feed a breastfed baby when you can just stay in bed. I’d always catch us both falling asleep right away. I don’t think I was as sleep deprived because of it either.

And, by the way, I never rolled over or found them suffocating under me… I was always aware of where they were. Plus, I could “check on them” by just opening my eyes and go back to sleep. 🙂

Julia
Julia
3 years 7 months ago

Wore (and am still wearing) both of my kids. My daughter started crawling at 6 months, my son at 5 months. My daughter took her first steps at 10 months. My son is 6 months now and is already pulling up and looks like he will be waking early as well. So I always laugh when I hear that babywearing leads to kids not walking on time.

Anna
Anna
3 years 7 months ago
The Moby wrap gave me a HUGE complex. It’s been over a year but I’ll never forget it. I spent hours in front of a mirror twirling a six foot long cloth around my body, watching instructional videos on the Internet, consulting diagrams and finally enlisted an experienced friend to help. NO GO. The baby sagged, cried, and scarily she always ended up flopped over with her chin on her chest, which is supposed to be how they stop breathing and die in the thing. I wish I had had some of you around to help me. In the end,… Read more »
Amy
Amy
3 years 7 months ago

The Moby wrap is way too complex. The ring type slings are a bit easier as they already have a little pouch.

Lani
Lani
3 years 7 months ago

Wraps (stretchy like the Moby, or woven), in general, do have a bit of a learning curve. YouTube is a great resource for how to videos. You mentioned sagging though, which generally means the baby is beyond the weight limit of the wrap. Strethcy wraps are only good up to about 15-18lbs at the most. At that point a woven or other more supportive carrier (like the Ergo) is a better option.

Jess
3 years 7 months ago

I love our Ergo, too! I did a post on the 4 different carriers that we tried and still love my Ergo. I do wish it had a fold up bag to put in for when she wants out, but no complaints here 🙂

http://crunchyhotmama.com/2012/03/17/babywearing/

Amy
Amy
3 years 7 months ago
Random thought (those are always the best kind) about strollers: When our third was a newborn, I was too drained to go for walks and carry the baby. Once we got a stroller, I got out a lot more in our suburban neighborhood. She enjoyed the outdoors immensely, stroller or being carried. Going for walks became our default for getting her to sleep and through fussy periods. I would also actually take her out so she get (gasp!) get some sun. Basically, don’t let lack of energy stop you from taking a walk and getting everyone some fresh air/sunshine, even… Read more »
Ande
Ande
3 years 7 months ago

Love love love! We live in rural Illinois so I get a lot of weird looks while walking around with my critter in her ring sling. I’ve loved it, though. Her daddy even wears her. We don’t cosleep (anymore) and this has helped maintain a sense of closeness with her. We never bought an infant carrier-type car seat, didn’t see the point, so we have carried her around since birth. Six months old and incredibly happy all the time =]

Isaac Warbrick
3 years 7 months ago
With so many mixed messages taught to parents from so-called experts, it’s good to hear people talking about treating kids in a way that comes naturally (i.e. there might actually be a reason we feel like hugging our babies all the time?! rather than ignoring them because it will make teach them “independence”). It never made sense to me that people were so happy to have kids, and then so eager to find ways to make sure they didn’t have to give up any time or activities from their child-less life. Perhaps these people love the idea of having the… Read more »
Animanarchy
Animanarchy
3 years 7 months ago
Yes! I think the obsession with titles directs countless people’s life courses and the distinction between a biological parent and true family is far too prevalent. Why are young mammals cute? Because when they aren’t anymore (or not babyish) that’s when they’d traditionally be ready to support themselves. Until then they are owed to be treated like a main priority. When I was a young kid my mom stayed at home and babysat for a bit of extra money. I adored a baby that she looked after. I used to love bottle feeding him at around five years old. My… Read more »
ShannonCC
ShannonCC
3 years 7 months ago
I used a sling with my petite daughter 14 years ago. I was able to carry her in it until she was in the 2’s. My son was over 10 lbs at birth though and unlike my daughter, he was a beautifully chubby thing (totally breastfed, but that’s how he grew). I think he gained weight too fast for my shoulder because eventually (when he was only a few months old) the sling was just killing me. So I went to a wrap (I think it was a moby?). Awesome. Comfy for him, good for my shoulders and back 🙂… Read more »
Abby J.
Abby J.
3 years 7 months ago

Not only does frequent, loving touch result in positive outcomes in children, the opposite is also true. Children raised in orphanages and other situations of neglect suffer serious mental effects that can last their whole lives.

That said, my husband and I just went for our 10 week ultrasound and we’re definitely going to try babywearing. Knew we would long before this post actually. I’m thinking I’ll purchase the ergo carrier, and also ask my SIL to hand-me-down her Moby wrap, which she barely used.

Lani
Lani
3 years 7 months ago
I always knew I wanted to wear my baby, even before he was born. We weren’t very knowledgeable at first, though. We got a Baby Bjorn, and found it horribly uncomfortable, and thought the baby seemed uncomfortable as well. We soon found a ring sling and woven wrap (Girasol) that worked much better, though I had to practice quite a bit over the bed and in front of a mirror before I got the hang of the wrap. My husband traveled a lot, so bw’ing was a practical matter. I found it much easier to be responsive to our son… Read more »
Michelle
3 years 7 months ago

I love this series of baby care! Perfect timing–I’m 12 weeks pregnant. 🙂

The kangaroo care is especially important to me because with my double uterus, I’m at risk for preterm labor.

Liv
Liv
3 years 7 months ago

I am so lucky that I got my four children while we lived in Sweden where we have 18 months with salary to stay at home after you gets a baby. (80% salary) It makes it so much easier to breastfeed and be close to your child. I think 90% of the women breastfeed in Sweden. Now I live in USA and it is not a breast feeding friendly country. Woman have to hide while breast feeding and co sleeping is not recommended. How did the country USA turns so wrong against what is natural ?

Mary G.
Mary G.
3 years 7 months ago

Great article! The only thing I disagree with at all is the baby carrier. MOST of those I’ve ever seen are integral to the car seats, and having a baby fall asleep in the car seat only to have to remove them (which always woke my daughter up) and take them inside is a PAIN. I LOVE the carriers. Babies can’t be “worn” safely in a car, so the car seat/carrier is awesome.

Casey
Casey
3 years 7 months ago
My daughter saw right through the whole sling thing. She would only be happy if I was physically holding her in my arms. I did this for many hours of the day, for months on end. It would be nice if women didn’t do the whole isolated mothering thing we do in Western society as I think that just makes attachment parenting that much harder. I think humans are supposed to take care of babies with so much physical contact – but I don’t think we were meant to do it solo. My sister-in-law just had a baby and I… Read more »
Susan Alexander
3 years 7 months ago
Carrying my daughter in a Baby Bjorn was one of the best things about her babyhood. I loved having her close to me – we both liked it so much better than when she was in her carriage. We walked many city miles together (in Manhattan), just like that It was great for me to have my hands free and have her super close, all at the same time. it was also great for getting around, because it was so easy getting on and off the bus. And when it was cold, I could wrap my coat around both of… Read more »
mlou
3 years 7 months ago

Tons of Park Slope moms gave my friend grief for wearing a baby sling – likely they were all on juice clenses. Her children are the best behaved and socially adapted kids in the group as far as I can see.

Lani
Lani
3 years 7 months ago

While I am not a fan of the Bjorn that the OP talked about, I am supportive of any babywearing. We all need to look at our lives and what works for us and our families. Though I always encourage babywearing if asked, I also respect those who choose to not wear. It’s a shame those moms chose to criticize your friend for choosing to wear, instead of trying to understand and respect her parenting choice.

Jeannine
Jeannine
3 years 7 months ago

Its also great for weight loss I have lost 18kgs from carrying and breastfeeding my bub with no dieting

Crystal Brandon
3 years 7 months ago

Great article. I “wore” my son until he could walk. He is now five years old, and we have a incredibly strong bond. He is intelligent, self assured, and incredibly independent. I believe the attachment parenting technique was one of the main factors in his health and wonderful personality.

Allison
Allison
3 years 7 months ago

One of my proudest moments was wearing my 2 month old sleeping in a Moby wrap while making (and flipping!) crepes in a cast iron skillet for my husband and older son. This was obviously in my pre-paleo days.

Aloka
3 years 7 months ago
What great timing! I have a 3 month old baby and I love these recent posts. My baby is a natural co sleeper plus he hates being out down in a car seat or a swing or anywhere. He loves been carried and we have a lot of people around who can do it. It used to drive me nuts but now I’m just going to enjoy it. Exclusive breast feeding is just such a luxury. When else in life will you have the time to just take 30 mins off every few hours to pat and talk to and… Read more »
Oliver
Oliver
3 years 7 months ago

Does Mark have a kid on the way or something 😉

CJ
CJ
3 years 7 months ago

Interesting article, but what about those of us with twins? You’ve basically said that because I’m physically unable to carry them both simultaneously, I should either stay indoors all day cuddling one at a time while the other is in a safe place, or accept that my children are going to be worse off developmentally. Thanks.

Paleo-curious
3 years 7 months ago

Hi CJ,
I had twins (see my comment above) & while there are certainly many more challenges, there will still be plenty of opportunity to cuddle. And remember, the twins can cuddle each other too! I think twinhood offers advantages as well as disadvantages for both the babies & mother.

One thing I would highly recommend: learn to nurse both at once as soon as you can. This will result in much more rest for you in the long run!

Shay
3 years 7 months ago
I’ve totally felt this way before! Someone say I have to raise my kiddos this one way or they’ll be lacking something, and my anxiety goes through the roof because either I can’t, or I’m too late. Frankly, I think that the most important thing, outclassing babywearing, breastfeeding, cosleeping, is a reasonably happy (c’mon, we ARE living on sleep debt here), responsive parent. There is no formula to getting the perfect kid(s), there are only helpful things that generally work well–and if they don’t work well for your family–trying to implement them, failing and feeling guilty will not make for… Read more »
niki
niki
3 years 7 months ago

you can tandem wear twins or siblings!

Lani
Lani
3 years 7 months ago

You can wear twins! I know a mom who recently had twins and wears them both in a wrap. Google “twins babywearing” or “tandem babywearing” for lots of links.

b2curious
b2curious
3 years 7 months ago
Towards the end, Mark said that slings didn’t really work with his kids, but that they carried them as much as they could, “but we didn’t do it all day, every day. And you know what? They turned out to be fantastic, independent kids. Constant baby-wearing isn’t necessary, but some daily contact is probably (definitely) best.” You do what you can and don’t do what you can’t. Most children will thrive under our imperfect care. You can do the Maya Wrap type, ring slings with twins. I’m pretty sure some of the other wraps and slings work with twins as… Read more »
Yvette Cirasa
Yvette Cirasa
3 years 7 months ago
However you bring up your baby and whatever name you chose to brand it, so long as you are both happy and healthy, you are successful as a parent. There are so many “wrongs” and “rights” now that the emphasis on instinct is being lost. Go out and live your life with your little one in tow. Enjoy the time you have together – it won’t happen twice. Do what works for your little family and cherish the moments. I’ve had an infant carrier/car seat, a baby carrier, a backpack, a travel system and a wonderfully well adapted baby who… Read more »
freeloveharrington
freeloveharrington
3 years 7 months ago

thank you for this comment, the only inclusive one on this whole post. I’m uncomfortable with the whole “you should” tone of this post and the last one about co-sleeping, clearly lauding one style of parenting above others, regardless of what works for individual families. You said it best.

Amy
Amy
3 years 7 months ago
I’m not sure you’re reading the same posts that I’m reading – ;). More to the point, Mark and almost everyone here is very careful about moderating their statements to make it clear that YMMV. (Heck I even put on comment urging people to break out strollers if the babywearing was all too much.) I said this to another poster – take on some confidence about the decisions you make for your family. Stop worrying about what Mark or anyone else thinks or “inclusive” posts, whatever that means, and do the right thing for your family. (I guess Mark just… Read more »
HL
HL
3 years 7 months ago

Ummm…isn’t this site about investigating ways of living your life that may be be better for you than others? I definitely get the feeling that if someone is unhappy with their SAD diet, this blog would advise they “should” try eating primally. Why is it ok to imagine that some things might work better than others for most people with diet and exercise, but that with parenting we have to act like all choices are created equal?

HL
HL
3 years 7 months ago

please disregard the second “diet”. should have looked that over!

lindsay
lindsay
3 years 7 months ago

Love these child-rearing centered posts! I highly recommend the Beco and the mei tai baby carriers. Also, if you work full time and your kid is daycare, ask about the possibility of your daycare providers babywearing – the teachers at our center wore the babies for part of every day!

wpDiscuz