Modern parenting, with all its high-tech gadgets and varying philosophies, can be a maze to navigate. Is that bath thermometer really necessary? Should I be educating my baby in utero? And is it worth the extra $500 to get a stroller than can charge an iPhone?
Instead of getting caught up in the myriad of newfangled inventions and theories, here’s an age-old secret that will lead to happier infants, more confident and productive moms and dads, and better bonds between babies and parents. It’s babywearing — the practice of carrying or wearing your baby in a sling or other soft carrier. It’s been a global custom for centuries but has recently gained traction in the U.S., partially due to the influence of attachment parenting advocates.
Local moms like Aubrey Slabbert from Eagle Mountain have found babywearing to be an integral part of raising happy children.
“With my first baby it was just fun — it was nice to have him there to snuggle,” Slabbert said. “But with my second baby it was a necessity. I had a baby who wouldn’t let me put him down for 20 minutes. Wearing him was the only way I could do the dishes or chase after my toddler. Neither of my babies cried much — as long as they were being held or worn.”
And Slabbert’s experience isn’t unique. 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. And the benefits don’t stop there. Moms who routinely use a baby carrier are more confident, due to becoming finely attuned to baby’s movements, gestures and facial expressions, and the attachment between parent and baby is especially strong when lots of “kangaroo care” hours are logged. Also, babywearers are twice as likely to successfully breastfeed.
“Babywearing made breastfeeding a lot easier for me,” Slabbert said. “Even in a state that has one of the highest breastfeeding rates in the nation, babywearing gave me the confidence to feed my baby wherever, without people knowing what I was doing.”
International Babywearing Week — Utah Events
- Tuesday, 10/7, 10 a.m. Babywearing Hike at Wild Rose Trailhead 650 East Skycrest Lane, North Salt Lake.
- Thursday, 10/9, 10 a.m. Mommy and Me Class at Jump On It, 7 S. 1550 West #200, Lindon. $3 for children 2-5, second child is $2.
- Thursday, 10/9, 3:30 p.m. Babywearing 101 Class + Celebration at Natural Philosophy Yoga Studio, 155 Church St., Logan.
- Friday, 10/10, 10 a.m. Babywearing 101 Class at Sprague Library, 2131 S. 1100 East, Salt Lake City.
- Saturday, 10/11, 11 a.m. Babywearing Blitz at the Museum of Natural Curiosity at Thanksgiving Point, 3003 N. Thanksgiving Way, Lehi.
Two years ago, Slabbert became interested in connecting with other local mothers who were reaping the benefits of babywearing. Her first gathering with a few nearby moms has since turned into a group of more than 500 baby-toting parents. This week, they’ll join the world in celebrating the seventh annual International Babywearing Week.
In addition to a number of events taking place across the state, including a hike in North Salt Lake and babywearing 101 classes in Logan and Sugarhouse, the Utah County Babywearers will host a Mommy and Me class at Lindon’s Jump On It on Thursday, Oct. 9. And on Saturday, Oct. 11, get ready for a babywearing blitz at the Museum of Natural Curiosity at Thanksgiving Point.
Visit the group’s Facebook page to learn about more local events and meet-ups — regardless of whether you’re a babywearing veteran or simply intrigued about the potential benefits for your family. The group offers education and support to parents and caregivers through meetings, classes, online forums and a “lending library” of carriers members can check out and try at home.