Spoiling, manipulating, dependant, late developer – have you ever heard any of these from people who see you carrying your baby in a sling? Perhaps you have worried that you are “making a rod for your own back” – an unpleasant expression that I’ve often come across.
If so I hope I can help to alleviate any fears you may have and in turn give you some facts that can educate people who may question your choice of wearing your baby.
Spoiling is a big concern of many parents and particularly grandparents.
Of course no-one wants to spoil their child – the question is does carrying your baby in a sling and responding to their needs lead to a spoilt child?
The answer is no. There is enough research that proves that holding or carrying your baby a lot and responding appropriately to their cues does not produce a spoilt child. In fact there are studies that have proved just the opposite.
The spoiling theories developed in the 1920’s when ‘experts’ started getting involved in parenting.
They felt that responding intuitively to a baby by picking them up when they cried or feeding them when they were hungry would spoil them and make them clingy and dependant and instead advocated restraint, rigid schedules and detachment. There was no scientific basis or evidence for these beliefs and we know from numerous research studies as well as from personal experience and anecdotal evidence that they are simply false, fearful opinions that I personally would love to see long gone.
The Time Life documentary “Rock A Bye Baby” of 1970 proves that the younger the baby the more important close contact is to their psychological, neurological and biological development.
In fact another study done in an orphanage in America in the 1930’s proved that physical contact is so important that the babies in the group that received the minimal amount of contact actually started to shrivel up and had they not stopped the study they would have died. Both studies support the theory that the comfort from close physical contact with the mother or other caregiver was even more important to the babies than the comfort they received from food.
Renowned English anthropologist Ashley Montagu – author of over 60 books including “Touching” suggests that by comparing the gestational period of other mammals, human babies are born about 9 months earlier than they should be.
Obviously a woman’s body is just not equipped to handle pregnancy further than 9 months, but this makes sense when you think that at age 9 months most babies can sit, crawl and some can even walk by themselves – they are somewhat independent, much like a newborn giraffe or horse. Compare that to a newborn baby who is so helpless and totally dependant on its mother or caregiver. Clearly all babies can benefit from an exterogestional period – i.e. another 9 months outside the womb in a womb-like environment, which is exactly what the baby sling provides.
So what does this all mean to you and your baby? Well, regardless of whether you have a baby who seems to demand to be held more than other babies or not, you will not spoil him – even if you carry him all day long. You will in fact help him to thrive physically, emotionally, in fact in so many ways that I do not have space to write them all down here!
We will however, continue debunking the myths associating with carrying your baby next time.