Yesterday the Canadian Babywearing School posted this Facebook status update:
Do you know that there are NO benefits to babywearing? It’s the biological norm and being carried and kept close is the minimum babies expect at birth. When we use language like “benefits”, we establish babywearing as a nice extra (like a university fund or tennis lessons) instead of the normal behaviour that carrying is. Change our language, change the world!
How can you say there are no benefits to babywearing?
But, but but . . . when your baby is kept close against your chest they experience:
- optimum growth
- increased cognitive development
- enhanced motor function and muscle strength
- less emotional stress and therefore cry less
- stronger breastfeeding relationship
- strong and continuing bond with parents or caregivers
With all that going on, how can you say there are no benefits??? The question is, compared to what?
If all zebras eat grass, no one talks about the benefits to zebras of eating grass. Benefits are discussed with practices or products that are above and beyond the usual. Zebras benefit from a monthly, lavendar-scented, sponge bath (for example). You don’t talk about benefits for the standard baseline. So is babywearing – or baby-carrying – something that should be the obvious thing for families to do, or is it more of an optional add-on?
It all means the same thing, why does it matter how it’s phrased?
Because our language shapes our world. The words you use when you talk to yourself shape your world outlook. The words you use around your kids shape their outlook. The words we use with each other shape our agreements and understanding of the world.
So you decide – a baby held close to a parent for the first 9 months of his or her life, receiving all the cues that they are designed to optimally respond to, experiencing the safety and peace of mind that comes with the feel and sound of a parent’s heartbeat . . . do we want to consider that a customary element of parenting or more of a sub-culture trend?
Thanks to Canadian Babywearing School for this conversation and the opportunity to think about the place of this practice in our culture. To me, wrapping is not some new parenting fad. Doing without it would have made parenting that much harder.
Note: Anytime you talk about advantages or disadvantages, especially on the subject of providing for your children, you risk alienating those who are utilizing the opposite choice. The implication that those families are making a worse choice is almost impossible to avoid while encouraging the healthiest practices but I want to make it clear that I believe what is best for baby is what is best for the whole family. Emotionally and physically healthy parents with love in their hearts are about the best thing a baby or child can have and, in my opinion, trumps everything else.
I work hard to teach how wrapping can be a boon to parents because I really think that the things that contribute the most to a healthy baby, must also contribute to healthy and happy parents. I recognize that there isn’t any magic practice or product that is going to make parenting easy so I share what works for me and teach others to make it work for them, and I work hard to avoid the trap of thinking that someone who finds other solutions, even contrary solutions, is making a mistake.