It was my great pleasure on Saturday last week to see Dr Rosie Knowles speak about Why Babywearing Matters at the APUK conference in Bristol. As well as being a GP, Rosie runs the Sheffield Sling Surgery (a great source of resources on all things babywearing) and has written a lovely book on babywearing.
Rosie’s presentation was both inclusive and inspiring. She started by tracing the history of babywearing from our primate origins, through changes in human physiology as we began to walk upright, to the likely role that early slings, made out of skin or fur, would have played in enabling our ancestors to move quickly and explore the world.
The heart of her talk, however, was the role that carrying our children – with or without slings, in carriers of any kind – can play in building secure attachments between carer and child. These early attachments form the template for our future relationships and are strongly linked to adult mental health outcomes, yet research by the Sutton Trust suggests that 2 in 5 UK children lack secure attachments.
Keeping our children close, allowing them to come to know the world whilst in contact with a trusted parent or caregiver, enables them to experience new things from a position of calm, safety and security. Carrying our children also makes the responsive parenting that builds secure attachments easier – we come to know instinctively when our children are hungry, tired, bored – and can respond appropriately.
Babywearing is not essential for secure attachment – if you respond sensitively to your baby as they communicate with you by crying, wriggling, yawning, etc. they will learn that they are loved – but it can certainly help.
If you’re not sure where to start, or are having trouble finding a sling that works for you, come along to the Oxford Sling Library, Crazy Little Sling or book some one-to-one support. You and your family may never look back!