Science of parenting

Anthropological and evolutionary perspective

Benefits of babywearing

Like other primates, humans are "carry- mammals", meaning that they have an inborn need and instinct to be carried by their mother. In many traditional cultures, mothers carry their infants for most of the day until the child is capable of walking.  The reason behind this instinct is the relative immaturity at birth, which for humans is even more striking than for other primates. The human infant is born to a bipedal mother who had to give up width in the pelvis to be able to walk up-straight; he is also the one having the biggest brain of all species, in proportion to his body size. These two facts combined mean that nature made a compromise of the human baby being born as immature as possible, to be able to fit through the birth canal. A rough estimate would have it that a 9 months old baby is as mature as a newly born chimpanzee. That is how immature our babies are! And that is why they are so dependent on their mothers and need to be carried. Babywearing is the practice of carrying a baby in a sling, a wrap or in another form of carrier and has been practiced for centuries.

 

Babywearing has a number of benefits both for the infant and for the mother (or other person carrying the infant):

  • it fosters bonding and secure attachment
  • it lowers the incidence of post-partum depression
  • it has positive impact on several bodily systems (neural system, balance system in the ear, gastrointestinal apparatus, respiratory system, locomotory system)
  • it improves social and language skills by promoting proximity of the infant to the adults around them, thereby priming them to familiarize with non-verbal language and facial expressions
  • it decreases the risk of plagiocephaly (flat-head syndrome), typical of infants spending prolonged times in supine position
  • it reduces crying, thereby promoting quiet alertness states, which are optimal for learning

 

Relevant literature and resources:

 

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