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Baby Wearing Research

Does the research on baby wearing shed light on the practice of carrying the baby close to the body?

What Is Baby Wearing?

It may sound a little strange when you first hear the term. It's not like you actually wear your baby. But you do wear a baby carrier that holds the baby to your body.

Why Baby Wearing?

This is easy to answer - just think of the perspective of a baby. What would you find more interesting and mentally stimulating? Think about going for a shopping trip to the mall. Would you rather be pushed in a stroller, knee-high to everyone passing you. Or would you rather be at the level of your mother or father's chest?

In addition to visibility, there are other reasons babies like the baby carriers.
  • Warmth and comfort of human contact
  • Security
  • Close to the breast
It makes sense. The sites, sounds, and smells of your mother close to you rather than the knees of people passing.

Baby Wearing Research

Meredith Small was one of the first who reviewed numerous studies in her book "Our Babies Ourselves" that indicated the importance of parent/child contact.

One study found that American babies at one month of age are alone 67.5% of the time, compared to Korean babies that are alone 8.3% of the time. Another study indicated that infants in all known hunting-gathering societies carried their infants more than 50% of the time; while American babies are carried less than 25% of the time. As a result, American babies cry more during a 24 hour period than infants in societies where they are carried.

In another study, parents were encouraged to carry their infants more through the day using a carrier that holds the baby next to the parents. The researchers found that the amount of time parents held their baby increased from 2.7 hours per day to 4.4 hours on average, but the amount of crying decreased 43%.

Anthropologists who have studied infant behavior have noted that infants in all societies have about the same frequency of crying. That is, they all start to cry about the same number of times per day. However, in those societies where infants are held, their needs are responded to much quicker, and the duration of crying is much shorter. The infant is comforted, so that he or she spends much less of their time - and energy – crying. Many harried mothers who are stressed about leaving their infant at daycare would find much appeal in moving to a hunting-gathering or agricultural community where they could keep their babies with them in a sling all day long. But for quite a few mothers, such a life style is not a feasible option.

However, if a mother has fewer hours to spend with her child, practices such as baby wearing, skin-to-skin contact, and infant massage can promote bonding and development.

More About Baby Wearing

Of course there is lots more information, even entire websites to help you get started on the art of baby wearing. The Baby Wearer is a good site to visit. There you can find guides to baby wearing and reviews of baby carriers by the moms who use them.


In addition to special baby carriers, you can also learn the simple technique of wrapping your baby in a rebozo - or Mexican shawl. You can buy a rebozo or make one for very little money. Here's a Rebozo You Tube Video showing how to wrap and tie your rebozo.

Meridith Small's book "Our Babies Ourselves: How Biology and Culture Shape the Way we Parents" explores the importance of touch to infant crying and infant attachment.

Small looked at how different cultures approach infants, the way they carry them, as well as other ways in which the infant is made a part of the family.

Perhaps it is not a coincident that in our culture that spends less time touching and holding our infants, that our youth and adults feel more harried and isolated.

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By Karen Newell Copyright 2003 - 2012 Better Childbirth Outcomes - All Rights Reserved
Camp Hill, Pennsylvania, USA