If you need to be hands-free or are looking for an easy way to keep your little one close by, babywearing might be an excellent option for you. Plus, there are so many benefits to babywearing.
Babywearing your baby is a great way to support your new little one to adapt to being earth-side, especially after birth. It allows them to have skin-to-skin contact with you that they crave while allowing you to have the flexibility to free your hands.
From a sleep and feeding perspective, sleep and feeding go hand in hand; each can impact one another significantly. Babywearing allows you to blend feeding and sleep together with ease and comfort.
Let’s dive into the benefits of babywearing after birth for both sleep and feeding for you and your baby.
Sleep-related benefits of babywearing after birth
When in the womb, the lull of your movements and the rhythm of your heartbeat helped your baby sleep. Movement, sound, and warmth perfectly combine for an ideal sleep situation.
Newborns do not see themselves as separate from their mom after birth. The first three months of Earthside is commonly known as the fourth trimester. They still feel attached to you, almost like an invisible umbilical cord is attached to you and them.
Babywearing allows you to mimic closely what the womb was like for them, which helps to bring them security and comfort.
There are many ways that baby-wearing supports sleep; here are my top five reasons that baby-wearing can help your newborn sleep.
1. Provides comfort and supports bonding.
The sound of your heartbeat (boum boum, boum boum), your skin’s warmth, smell, and the sway of your movement helps your baby feel safe and secure.
I recommend babywearing for sleep (skin-to-skin, if possible) as this can help:
- Calm your baby (and you!)
- Reduce cortisol (a stress hormone)
- Regulate their heartbeat
- Regulate their breathing
- Regulate their body temperature
Babywearing allows you to give your newborn what they seek: you, comfort, and sleep. It can support your bond forming with them.
2. Can reduce the risk of developing a flat spot on their head
While babywearing, you have your newborn in a position that allows them to have their head on to the side, and you can alternate which side is against your body. This can help reduce the risk of them developing a flat spot on the back of their head.
I recommend altering which side their face is pointed towards each time your baby wears them to help decrease flat spots developing on the sides of their head.
3. Monitor their breathing
When they are so close to you, it allows you to feel their heartbeat and monitor their breathing. This can help decrease the anxiety that you may be feeling as well as immediately take action should an emergency pop up.
This is how you should wear your baby to monitor safely:
- Tight to you
- In view at all times
- Close enough to kiss
- Keep their chin off of their chest
- Supported back
4. It helps to balance your newborn and other needs
If you have other children, baby-wearing is a great alternative to help support your newborns needs and wants while supporting your other children’s needs and wants.
For our second baby, I wore her for 80-90% of all her naps for the first four months. Babywearing allowed me to have the flexibility to support my newborn while also supporting my busy two-year-old.
This allowed me to create bonding opportunities for both my children, did not make me feel stuck in one place for sleep, and supported my overall mood as it relaxed me.
3. Allows baby to get sleep
Babywearing really can help allow your newborn to get the sleep that they need. Newborns are sleepy when they come to the earthside, but baby-wearing can help them get longer stretches of sleep.
It is not uncommon for newborn sleep to be pretty inconsistent, varying from 20-mins to 2+ hours for naps. Babywearing can help you to get longer stretches of sleep as they have everything they need in one spot.
Safety considerations while wearing a sleeping newborn
1. Follow the instructions given. Instructions vary for individual wraps and carriers; some companies have different guidelines for wearing your baby.
2. Ensure you can see their mouth and nose at all times. This is to ensure no obstruction to breathing. We want to confirm that nothing is covering their mouth and nose and there is enough room between the material and their face.
We also want to ensure they are not curling themselves into the wrap, which can cause breathing obstruction.
3. Balance-free movement and baby-wearing. While baby-wearing has so many benefits, we also want to strike a balance between free-range movement in between sleep opportunities
Breastfeeding benefits of babywearing after birth
Babywearing helps to support feeding in very similar ways that it supports sleep.
Babywearing can be very soothing for both mom and baby and allows for closeness that helps to promote regular feedings. Babywearing can also bridge the time between feedings.
1. Decreases cortisol levels
During lactation, two main hormones drive the milk supply. These two main hormones are prolactin and oxytocin (the love hormone).
Elevated cortisol levels prevent prolactin and oxytocin levels from rising to the necessary level to increase and maintain milk production. Alternatively, some studies show that babywearing can decrease cortisol levels.
2. Added convenience of feeding
Breastfeeding in a baby carrier provides convenience because your breasts and baby are right there. No need to remove your baby from the carrier either.
But, as with everything in parenthood, there is a learning curve to breastfeeding in a carrier, but here are a few tips to get you started:
- Try on different types of carriers. You may prefer a wrap style over structured or vice versa; make sure you buy a carrier that will accommodate breastfeeding.
- Practice baby-wearing around the house and become aware of the features of your carrier.
- Wear a nursing top, button-down top, or breastfeeding tank top, or go skin-to-skin for easy breastfeeding access.
- You may find that you need to adjust the straps and waist belt of the carrier to allow for a comfortable breastfeeding position.
- After breastfeeding in the carrier, be sure to bring your baby back up to the proper placement for your carrier with their nose clear and body well supported.
3. Encourages familiar smells
Babies utilize all of their senses, but when it comes to breastfeeding they particularly use their sense of smell. Babywearing puts the baby in the perfect position to smell breastmilk and entice them to the breast. Colostrum smells and tastes similar to amniotic fluid, which is comforting and familiar to newborns.
4. Helps with regulation and stability
Babywearing can help with the regulation and stability of vital signs. Babywearing can help to recreate a womb-like environment for your newborn where they feel warm and secure.
Hearing your heartbeat and voice is soothing and reassuring to your new little one who is still adjusting to being earth side. Kangaroo care is a form of skin-to-skin designed to help premature infants have as much close contact with parents and caregivers as possible.
Research has shown how beneficial this close care is for development and bonding.
5. Can encourage regular feeding sessions
Lastly, babywearing can help promote breastfeeding because it is a proactive way to encourage regular breastfeeding sessions. Newborns are intuitive eaters and often look to eat a minimum of 8-10 times in a 24-hour period.
Feedings can range from 15-60 minutes, and there are several growth spurts in the early weeks. One time when babywearing may be particularly helpful is during a growth spurt.
Cluster feeding is a term used when a baby is experiencing a growth spurt and cuing to eat very frequently over a short span of time. Cluster feeding is developmentally normal and to be expected.
Babywearing during growth spurts can add extra comfort for both baby and parent.
Top tips for babywearing and breastfeeding
1. Gather information from your local baby-wearing society.
Oftentimes groups will allow parents to try out different styles of carriers and practice wearing them before investing in a carrier of their own. Baby-wearing society can also help with tandem baby-wearing.
Consider your lifestyle and unique needs before investing in a carrier.
2. Look for a carrier that is breastfeeding-friendly, like a wrap or sling. If you are going for a more structured carrier make sure it has adjustable straps and waistband
3. Practice using your carrier at home. If needed, use it with the help of a family member or friend until you feel comfortable.
4. Reposition baby after feeding ends. When breastfeeding and baby-wearing, be sure to move the baby up on your chest with their face clear after the feeding.
Babywearing can be an excellent tool; I encourage all of my clients to try out babywearing, and if it’s comfortable for parents and baby, then implement it regularly!
Other baby articles you might enjoy
- Solly Baby Wrap Stores: Here’s Where to Buy Yours
- Complete Guide: How to Dress Your Baby by Temperature
- When and How to Start a Bedtime Routine for Your Baby
This article was co-written by Kensey Butkevich and Morgan Jackson. Learn more about their work below:
Kensey is a Board Certified Behavior Analyst and Certified Child Sleep Consultant with over 13 years of clinical experience in parent coaching. She empowers parents in supporting their children’s sleep needs taking into consideration a child’s temperament, development, and parent values and goals. Kensey believes that sleep shaping is about supporting children in a way that complements their unique progressions so they can feel rested and thrive.
Morgan is a Cardiac RN turned breastfeeding junkie! After working as a public health nurse working primarily with first-time families, breastfeeding education became a deep-rooted passion. Watching women transition to motherhood left Morgan in awe. After becoming a mother herself and struggling with breastfeeding she realized the lack of access to breastfeeding support. And out of both desire and necessity, she studied to become an IBCLC.
Kensey is a Board Certified Behavior Analyst and Certified Child Sleep Consultant with over 12 years of clinical experience in parent coaching. She empowers parents in supporting their children's sleep needs, considering a child's temperament, development, and parent values and goals. Kensey believes that sleep shaping is about helping children in a way that complements their unique progressions so you can feel rested, not stressed. She lives in Ontario, Canada, with her son and partner.