Unsure if babywearing is right for you and your twins? Read about the many babywearing benefits and tips to get started today!
“Wow, you’ve really got your hands full!” How many times have you heard that as a mom of twins?! I’m here to tell you that babywearing can give you some HANDS-FREE time (maybe a chance to feed yourself or take a few sips of coffee), as well as providing countless developmental and health benefits to your babies and yourself. Let’s look at some of those babywearing benefits and outline some tips to get you started on your babywearing journey.
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Spinal support babywearing benefits
A newborn’s spine is in a C-shape. This shape is best supported in a “fetal tuck” position. We support this naturally when we carry a baby. However, studies have shown that in the Western world our babies (aged 3 weeks to 3 months) are on average carried less than 3 hours per day. The rest of the time our babies are placed in baby containers (cribs, car seats, swings, etc) where their spines are often not supported appropriately. Babywearing gives you a fantastic option to have your baby in an optimal developmental position for longer periods of time.
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Sensory babywearing benefits
One of the most important babywearing benefits is that it stimulates the senses of our babies. Dr. Sharon Heller states in her book The Vital Touch, “Our baby gets tactile or cutaneous stimulation from our skin touching hers and proprioception from the pressure of her limbs flexed into our body. She gets tactile, olfactory, and gustatory stimulation if we nurse, of our milk, and vestibular stimulation from the gentle stimulation of our movements and, when held upright, from her efforts to right her head and maintain her balance. She gets visual stimulation when she looks all around her, auditory impulses as we whisper endearments, and kinesthetic stimulation as we change her to the other side. When we put our babies in a container, especially if out of sight, all of this sensory nourishment is lost.”
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Physiological babywearing benefits
Babywearing gives our newborns and young infants the opportunity to be in a supported vertical position. This has physiological benefits. These babywearing benefits include improving respiration, decreasing the symptoms of reflux, and preventing ear infections. A study by Dr. Maria Blois showed that premature infants (as small as 3lbs) placed in an upright position on their mother’s chests had improved respiratory patterns, more regular than in an incubator. Pediatricians often recommend keeping babies upright after feedings to decrease reflux and babywearing accomplishes this. Ear infections in young infants are most often triggered by gastric juices refluxing out of the throat and into the middle ear. Holding a baby in an upright position decreases the probability of this happening.
When a baby is in an upright position in a carrier, he can view the world and learn about everything around him. Babywearing shouldn’t replace tummy time but is a great alternative when baby is “fighting” tummy time. With baby in an upright position, he is having to lift his head to look up at your face and maintain his head lift while turning side to side to look at the environment around him. All of this is done with less gravity working against him. Babies often feel safer and more secure to practice head control skills in this position.
Babywearing can greatly support the development of the vestibular system. The vestibular system helps with our sense of balance and security in space. Mom’s variety of movements (reaching, turning, squatting, etc) during babywearing provide a lot of balance practice for baby resulting in fine-tuning of the vestibular system.
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Emotional babywearing benefits
Have you heard of oxytocin? It’s often called the “love drug”. Studies show that oxytocin is released during babywearing by both baby and caregiver. For babies, oxytocin aids in digestion, calms/soothes them and reduces their stress. These babywearing benefits are the same for the caregiver – less stress means better caregiving. This results in overall better attachment for both baby and caregiver.
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Things to know before you can reap the babywearing benefits
How do you start reaping the babywearing benefits, particularly when you have twins? Here are a few basics to review.
- A premature baby should be cleared by their pediatrician before you attempt babywearing.
- A newborn baby should always be worn inward-facing in a front carrier or wrap and in a carrier or wrap that supports the back of their head.
- Before attempting a hip or back carry position, your baby should have good head and trunk control.
- Carriers and wraps are designed to support babies in an inward-facing position. An outward-facing position is often not ergonomically optimal for baby and caregiver.
- A baby’s legs should never dangle downward when they are positioned in a carrier or wrap. The baby’s legs should be in an “M” position with the knees up above the hips in a squatting posture with the legs separated in a straddle type of position.
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Different types of carriers for babywearing benefits
- Structured carriers: These are probably the most common. My favorite is the Ergobaby, which comes with a newborn insert to even better support babies at their smallest. These carriers are often the easiest to learn to use but are designed for carrying only 1 baby at a time.
- Ring Slings: These come in a variety of materials, even mesh to use in the swimming pool. My favorite is Wildbird Ring Slings. They are beautiful and durable. 2 ring slings can easily be worn together to support 2 babies.
- Stretchy Wraps: These wraps are very versatile, comfortable, and washable. My favorite is the Moby Wrap. These contain plenty of material to hold 2 newborns together. The biggest con to stretchy wraps is they are not recommended when the combined weight of the babies wrapped exceeds 15 pounds. Twins outgrow these really quickly.
- Woven Wraps: These wraps are similar to stretchy wraps, just not stretchy! They are very versatile, durable, and can be used well into toddlerhood. My favorites are made by Didymos.
- Twin specific: Thankfully there are twin specific carriers! These are LIFESAVERS for twin families. Unfortunately, they can be very expensive. I would highly recommend putting these on your registry or searching for these second hand. My favorites are the Weego, MiniMonkey, and Twin-Go. The Weego is designed for newborns and young infants. The MiniMonkey is built like 2 ring slings just easier to use. The Twin-Go works like 2 structured carriers and allows one baby to be worn on the front and one on the back.
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Picking the right carrier for the most babywearing benefits
- Try before you buy. Ask a friend to borrow one or see if there’s a babywearing lending library in your area.
- Consider the pros and cons of each type. For example, stretchy wraps aren’t recommended when the combined weight of the babies is over 15 pounds, so won’t be a long-term option for twins.
- Purchase a wrap both you and your partner are comfortable with. Dads make great babywearers, too!
- Consider buying second hand to save money. Look online or at local consignment shops/sales.
As Gordon Neufeld said, “A child may not know what direction he is going, but when he is attached to you, he doesn’t feel lost.” Good luck and happy babywearing!
Stacey Haught is a mom to 7-year-old Madison, 5-year-old twin boys – Mason and Mitchell, and 10-month-old twin girls – Sadie and Sophia. She is a pediatric physical therapist but has put her career on hold to stay at home with her rambunctious 5 kids. She resides with her husband and kids just outside of Pittsburgh, PA. Her family enjoys everything outdoors regardless of the season – gardening, finding new sledding hills, exploring area parks, and hiking and camping at their family cabin.
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Antunovic, Elizabeth. “The Benefits of Baby Carrying.” Pathways to Family Wellness. December 2019.
Heller, Sharon. The Vital Touch. 1997
McCarthy, Laura. www.wearyourlittleone.com.Neufeld, Gordon. Hold On to Your Kids: Why Parents Need to Matter More Than Peers. 2013.
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