From the 11th to 16th of June the Association of Infant Mental Health is hosting Infant Mental Health Awareness Week. In a time where our collective consciousness of the importance of mental health is at an all time high it is interesting to consider how rarely we apply this thinking to babies.
The foundations of lifelong health and wellbeing are laid during the first two years of our lives – and attachment, the focus of this year’s Infant Mental Health Awareness Week, is a vital part of that.
Babywearing of course is a wonderful way to foster attachment, and the various ways in which it does this do much to nurture your child’s mental health.
It helps your baby feel safe and secure
After nine months in the womb the world can be a big and scary place, but babywearing helps to replicate the environment your baby is most comfortable with: they are as close to you as they can be, feeling your breathing and hearing your heartbeat, giving them the reassurance they need to embrace all the new experiences they encounter.
It boosts oxytocin levels
The physical closeness that babywearing creates gives a wonderful boost to levels of the hormone oxytocin. This creates feelings of joy and happiness – and even helps your baby grow with its positive impact on digestion, breathing and the nervous system.
It makes it easier to get out in the fresh air
Spending time in nature can help to turbocharge our wellbeing, and that’s just as true for babies too. The combination of sunshine, fresh air and all that green almost never fails to reset – and it can do wonders for your baby’s sleep patterns too.
It creates a perfect environment for sleep
There are few more likely sources of stress in the early weeks and months of parenting than how much your baby sleeps (or doesn’t). We are often encouraged to get our babies sleeping independently as early as possible, but the reality is that babies are not designed to sleep alone, and being close to you with the constant motion of your body might be just what they need to help them nod off.
It helps your baby to communicate with you
When you are holding your baby close it is much easier to recognise and respond to their needs, reducing a potentially huge source of stress for your tiny human.
Of course all of these impacts of babywearing have positive reverberations for you as well as your baby, giving you the strength you need to meet their needs consistently and compassionately.
So as you carry your baby close remember that it is not only convenient but a powerful reinforcement of your love for them, helping to grow the trust and resilience that will unperpin their wellbeing for many years to come.