This is part 2 of the interview with Rebecca Wolf on Babywearing. Click here for part 1.
Carrie: That is why your book is so great because it tells moms all of the different options. If they try one sling and decide, “Oh this is not for me, I cannot get this thing to work.” They do not realize there are so many other options.
Rebecca Wolf: Exactly. Even in my own experience, the B’jorn just looks so strange to me, so alien-like and the sling just seems so much more comfortable. So that kind of started me on my journey to find out more. I did like the Nojo but I wanted something that was a little more flexible so I started doing all these research in books and online. I started going to attachment parenting groups and it was just wonderful to have the support of other like-minded parents who were also attachment parents.
I do not know how many of your listeners are familiar with the term, attachment parenting, but it is a term, I believe Dr. Sears coined several years ago and it is basically — babywearing is one component of what he called attachment parenting but it also includes breastfeeding and co-sleeping which we are huge breastfeeding fanatics and we did not really realize that we were attachment parents until we are already doing it and it was nice to kind of find out that, “Hey, this is the philosophy,” there is research behind why the things that we intuitively wanted to do with our daughter was good and I just really wanted to get this out in the book and share this with other new moms and expecting parents to share the joy of babywearing and attachment parenting.
Carrie: Well, I am sure that most of our listeners are familiar with that term because I am actually doing a show next week about attachment parenting burnout and I have been getting a lot of great feedbacks from the listeners and subscribers about that topic, but I think that using a sling can be a great preventative measure. One of the things that, in my estimation, that leads to burnout is not being able to accomplish the things that you need to accomplish to feel good about your life, having things orderly and neat and etcetera.
Rebecca Wolf: It is to take care of yourself, basically.
Carrie: Right. Exactly, and a sling can make that easier and simultaneously keep your baby happy. But tell us what are some of the day to day benefits to the mom and baby of babywearing since you are the baby sling expert?
Rebecca Wolf: Well, I know just in my own experience, I noticed that there was a huge difference in the amount of crying time that my daughter had. I remember reading a statistic while I was pregnant. It said that, “On average, newborns cry four to five hours a day.” Not obviously all at once, but that was average and I thought, “Oh my goodness, I am not going to be able to stand listening to my child crying for that long,” and so I was on a panic. I thought, “Oh my Lord, I do not know what I got myself into,.” and I have to say that listening to our daughter’s cues in carrying her crying time and I do not know if this is typical of everyone else because every child has a different temperament but she was only crying about 10 minutes a day and we were just so happy because we were in tune with each other and I could sense before she even started to cry or before she needed anything, what that was that she was uncomfortable and I was able to kind of predict what she needed just because we were in such close communication.
That was my own experience with one of the huge benefits of babywearing was. I was not a crazy woman, running to a crying baby all the time. It was something that was much more harmonious. Just as far as the research goes, there are tons of benefits to your child for babywearing. It has been shown to stimulate your baby’s mental development in several ways. The first way is touch is very important to the brain development for an infant especially in the first few months. I know a lot of people use the term nine months in and nine months out.
They are still kind of needing that constant contact to regulate their behavior. So, touching is also very important for them to develop that — those neurological connections that they need to grow their brain. In addition to breastfeeding, I think it is really crucial to good brain development.
The other thing is that, wearing your baby helps you to keep your baby’s stress level at a low level and my background before I became a stay-at-home mom, was a reading specialist. I remember I taught a class, a foundation for education class at the local college here, about how stress makes it impossible for you to learn and there is a physical reason why that is. What happens in the brain is that, all these sensations that you see through, our five senses, all pass through the brain’s gatekeeper, which is called the amygdala. The gatekeeper’s job is basically to determine whether or not there is a threat to the body based on these incoming sensations.
So, if there is a high stress situation, which is perceived threat, the brain does not process any of those sensations that are coming in. It just automatically starts pumping out that stress hormones throughout the body to initiate the fight or flight mechanism. It is impossible for the brain to function in a stressful situation. When your child is upset and crying, it is not something that is healthy or good for their brain development.
So, if they are in that kind of situation or a state a lot, that is obviously going to have an impact on their brain development and what they found in babies that are carried or worn, is that their brain is actually in a quiet, alert state which I believe what Dr. Sears kind of coined that term, the quiet-alert state but it is basically a low stress state which is the exact opposite of the fight or flight and it enables your baby to kind of pay attention to what is going on in its environment and form those most important neural connections in the brain that helps your child grow and learn.
So, that is a huge intellectual benefit to the baby and they often get to see what is going on in the world when the baby is up and carried at eye level as opposed to in the stroller and way down where people’s knees are. It is something where they can really see what is going on in the world and it is the perfect training ground what I call, for them to learn the social rules and how things work and also to watch people speak and talk, so they can see how people move their lips and how the tongues work.
So, it has a huge impact on language development and it really stimulates their ability to speak. I know that I found out with my own daughter. We used baby signs when she was under 12 months and she picked that up pretty quickly but then at the time she was 13 months old, she just started speaking real words at an exponential rate and she was just amazing. The words that she uses now and she is also a very large girl so people thinks she is in kindergarten and she is only three just because she is advanced in the language and the physical category. I definitely attribute the babywearing and the breastfeeding and the co-sleeping, the whole attachment parenting to her development.
Continued to part 3