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Baby Carrying: Not a Fad
writes, "The security of a parent's arms is irreplaceable in a child's physiological development and well-being. "
Our society has drifted away from carrying our infants. Swaddling, wrapping, slinging, or just holding our babies has turned into strollers, car seat carriers, and infant seats. Statistics have shown that American infants, on average, are held for less than 2 and half hours per day. The majority of an infant's day entails living in a "container;" crib, bassinet, car seat, strollers, bouncer, or infant seat.

The security of a parent's arms is irreplaceable in child’s physiological development and well-being. Laying a young infant on his back alone in a stroller is actually physically and emotionally stressful, and can be developmentally inhibiting.

Researchers at Tufts University followed 45 mother-child pairs from infancy to age 7. They found that infants who were securely-attached during infancy were more likely to demonstrate emotional availability at age 7 (Easterbrooks et al 2000).

A study of American kids - aged 9-11 years who receive skin-to-skin contact with their parents, and carried as an infant, were evaluated on their ability to cope with their emotions in school and at home. Kids with secure attachment relationships - and greater levels of maternal support - showed "higher levels of positive mood, more constructive coping, and better regulation of emotion in the classroom." (Kerns et al 2007).

"Being carried or worn in an upright position with proper leg support is not only developmentally sound but often preferable to mothers and babies alike. Upright carrying optimizes the physical, emotional and intellectual growth of your baby," states, Elizabeth Antunovic in her article: The Benefits of Baby Carrying.

Natural curves of the spine are gradually forming; laying an infant on their back flattens and straightens those curves, increases pressure on hips, and flattens the bones in the back of their skull, all which create an undue stress on an infant's ever-developing brain, spinal column, back, and hips.

When babies do not experience gravity they can have a hard time acquiring adequate muscle strength and tone to hold up their heads. When infants are held upright, they are allowed to practice compensatory movements, enhancing muscular strength and allowing for more control over their fine motor skills. When the mother walks, stops or turns, an infant's body naturally works against the pull of gravity to maintain his position. As the mother moves back and forth, or sways side to side the upright infant receives a lot of vestibular stimulation. Our vestibular system helps us out with our sense of balance and our security in space.

Vertical positioning of babies can decrease ear infections, GERD (Gastroesophageal reflux disease), and colic. Gravity allows for proper drainage of the Eustachian canals of the ears, and allows for full closure of sphincters in the esophagus and small intestine during digestion.
Unfortunately it has become a societal norm to lug our babies around in removable infant car seats, or push them around in strollers and grocery carts. Those hard, flat surfaces, are wreaking havoc on our children's development. The sensory deprivation they are causing is not yet fully understood.

Other research suggests that skin-to skin contact boosts levels of oxytocin (the "cuddle hormone") and reduces signs of physiological stress in infants (Uvnas Moberg 2003).

Regardless of the brand, find a wrap or carrier that faces inward, allows the legs to be pulled up to roughly 100 degrees and spread roughly 40 degrees at the same time (Frog Leg). Children naturally assume this position when picked up and placed on a hip. Pick your baby up and hold them. It will create a limitless lifetime of benefits.

Dr. Christie Hafer


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