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Babywearing Research

Babywearing Research Parenting

Guest Blogger: Leslie Brinkely of “And Her Little Dog Too”

January 23, 2014

Sitting in the Catbird Seat / The Benefits of Baby Wearing

by guest blogger Leslie Brinkley of And Her Little Dog Too

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One thing I always knew I would do once I became a mom would be using a baby carrier. I always see moms {and dads!} out and about with their little ones in tow, looking so happy! I’ve done my research on carriers for sure, but nothing beats seeing them in action. I love to check out the different kinds out there, the many positions the baby can be in as well as how the baby looks in the carrier. To me, it just seems like a comfortable and convenient way to be with your little one.

Organic Carrier

I was recently selected {as a new mom-to-be} to take part in a special blogger project with the wonderful folks at Catbird Baby to review their carriers as a way to embrace all things baby wearing. Their company name comes from the expression “sitting in the catbird seat,” which means to be in an advantageous position (from the short story The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, by James Thurber). What a perfect description for a baby who gets to see the world while snuggled in close to Mom or Dad!

Pikkolo Carrier

Since becoming pregnant, I have been counting down the moments until I could carry my own little one. I have done a little research to better prepare myself for wearing my baby and here are a few of the benefits of babywearing that stick out most in my mind. I look forward to putting them to the test with my little guy a few months from now; check them out and let me know what you think:

The Benefits of BabyWearing

  1. Carried Babies Cry Less! Researchers have found that babywearing for three hours a day reduced infant crying by 43% overall and 54% during evening hours. {source}
  2. Carried Babies Learn More! Carried babies spend more time in the state of quiet alertness. This is the behavioral state in which an infant is most content and best able to interact with his environment. It has been called the optimal state of learning for a baby. Researchers have also reported that carried babies show enhanced visual and auditory alertness. {source}
  3. Baby Wearing is Healthier for You! By doing this you will enjoy the dual benefits of walking and “weightlifting. ” Wearing your baby burns up to around 300 extra calories a day! A brisk ten-minute walk will shed about 100 calories. Baby provides as much (or more!) “resistance” as a pair of hand weights. A long walk in the carrier is also an excellent way to help a tired but over-stimulated child fall asleep. {source}
  4. Baby Wearing is Convenient! Three words : Two Free Hands!

Baby wearing also:

  • Increases cardiac output, improves circulation, promotes respiration and aids in digestion.
  • Provides the exact level and kind of stimulation an infant requires, energizing their nervous system and creating a quiet, calm alertness in the infant.
  • Decreases the levels of stress hormones circulating in a baby’s blood stream, resulting in a more relaxed, happy baby.
  • Develops the muscles needed for the infant to sit, stand, and walk.
  • Enhances motor skills by stimulating the baby’s vestibular system (balance organs) by exposing the baby to a variety of sights, sounds, and motion.

{source}

Thanks to the lovely folks at CatBird Baby, I can’t wait to try out their Pikkolo and Mei Tai carriers myself with our little man! Stay tuned for my reviews & feel free to share your thoughts/experiences on baby wearing with me – I’d love to hear it!

catbirdbaby

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Do you believe in baby wearing?

What are your favorite tips / tricks for doing it right?

What are the best benefits you have experienced from Baby wearing?

Please share!

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Babywearing in the News Babywearing Research Parenting

Keeping a clear head

March 30, 2012

Have you seen these pictures of singer Beyonce, ostensibly wearing her daughter, Ivy Blue, in some type of carrier? I say ostensibly, because in all the many photographs that claim to show Beyonce carrying her baby around town, I can’t spot the baby. I understand her conundrum, of course: she is one of the most famous people in the world and paparazzi follow her everywhere trying to snap pictures of everything she does. Photos of her daughter would probably fetch a pretty penny from the celebrity magazines. I’m sure it’s bad enough when they’re in your face trying to catch you without any makeup on the way to bikram yoga or whatever. When it’s your infant daughter they are chasing down, I understand that your instinct would be to shield your baby from this intrusion. But as a parent who uses baby carriers and a manufacturer of baby carriers, I cringe every time I see these photos. One thing we know very well about safety for infants—not just in baby carriers, but always—is that we should never be covering baby’s face with cloth close around the mouth or nose. A baby’s face should always be uncovered with no fabric covering it, so that the fabric is not pressed against the mouth or nose in a way that could obstruct breathing and so that we can observe the baby at all times, particularly in the first 4 months. We must be able to see baby’s face so we can know that everything is ok in terms of breathing.

So, take all the fashion cues you want from Beyonce, but don’t follow her cue when it comes to babywearing: when you use a baby carrier, never cover up your baby’s face with a blanket, coat, or other fabric. Keep baby’s mouth and nose completely free and clear, both to ensure s/he can breathe easily and so that you can observe your baby and know instantly if anything is amiss.

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Babywearing Research Breastfeeding

Breastfeeding and Babywearing

October 20, 2011

October is breast cancer awareness month, so it is a good time to remind moms of something that I think is pretty well known but so, so important. Both pregnancy and breastfeeding are positively associated with reduced lifetime risk for breast cancer, as well as cancers such as ovarian and endometrial cancer. It is thought that one way in which pregnancy and breastfeeding reduces breast cancer risk is by reducing the number of menstrual cycles a woman experiences in her life which reduce the cumulative exposure to endogenous hormones, which are associated with stimulating cell growth  and the occurrence of breast cancer. Breastfeeding for at least a year is associated with a decreased risk of both hormone receptor-positive and hormone receptor-negative breast cancer. A study done by Cancer Research UK (United Kingdom) demonstrated that the risk is reduced by 7% for each baby a woman has, and that for every 12 months she breast feeds (not necessarily consecutively) she decreases the risk by a further 4.3%.

This is one reason why I wanted to highlight how helpful babywearing can be in supporting moms to meet their breastfeeding goals. I know that when you first have a baby breastfeeding while wearing baby in a carrier at the same time may seem *impossible*. I do think that the first and most important thing to do is establish your breastfeeding relationship firmly and successfully without a carrier before moving on to use carriers as a tool for breastfeeding success. Once a mom has done this, though, babywearing supports moms in remaining active and continuing to breastfeed by providing privacy for discreet nursing and the ability to nurse while standing up if needed– or even while continuing to walk.

I personally found the most success breastfeeding while babywearing when using upright front carries, though many people prefer to breastfeed with baby in a semi-reclined position. Ring sling or pouch-style carriers are excellent for this, and the fabric tail of a ring sling can be used as a drape for privacy if desired. With an upright carrier such as our mei tai or the pikkolo, I prefer to loosen the straps to lower baby just a little bit. This is especially easy with the pikkolo because you just pull up on the tension buckles on the sides a little bit to loosen them and lower baby a few inches. Lift up your shirt and use one hand to help support the breast for baby, the same way that you would if using your hand to offer the breast while sitting in a chair at home. You will likely want to continue to hold the breast gently while nursing so that baby is able to easily remain latched on. I highly recommended wearing hoodies with nursing tanks or shirts! This was my uniform for a long time and helped me feel comfortable nursing in a carrier so that I knew that my sides were covered when I lifted my shirt to breastfeed in a carrier. The hood of the pikkolo or on our mei tai can also be used to drape over baby’s head lightly to visually block distracting sights (the last thing you want when you are trying to get baby to focus on the task at hand is to pop off to look at some new and interesting thing over there!) and provide a little more privacy if desired. After you are finished nursing and pull down your shirt or re-clasp your nursing tank, you can just put one hand on baby’s bum to relieve the tension on the straps and tighten them again to get baby back in that high, seated position.

Nursing on the go in an upright carrier will typically work best after baby is old enough to maintain some level of head support on his or her own. When nursing in a carrier you should always remain eye contact with baby and be able to see what he or she is doing and ensure that your breast is not pressed into baby’s nose or face, so she has a clear airway. If baby falls asleep during nursing, you should not leave baby in the nursing position (lower and face leaning against the breast) but always remove baby from the breast and tighten straps to higher position and make sure baby’s head is then resting sideways (cheek to your chest) against you with a clear airway while she snoozes.

If you have any tips on what has worked well for you to breastfeed while babywearing, feel free to share them in the comments

 

References and Useful Resources:

National Institutes of Health’s National Cancer Institute (cancer.gov)

British Medical Journal

Centers for Disease Control

Best for Babes (bestforbabes.org)

 

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