Let us start by answering a basic question you may have. For example, um, what exactly is babywearing?
“Babywearing is really just wearing a baby with any device, anything that keeps your baby with you, allows you to be hands-free,” says Skye, co-founder of hope&plum. “Ring slings, soft wraps, woven wraps, soft or structured carriers…And babywearing is not new,” Skye assures us. In fact, the history of babywearing is as old as humankind itself. I mean, there wasn’t a whole lot of space for strollers in the days of hunting and gathering.
hope&plum was created in 2018 by Skye and Mallory, who instantly connected after meeting in an online fertility group and remained close through the ups and downs of pregnancy and parenthood. After becoming frustrated by the lack of optionality in the market when it came to style and size, Mallory, an early adopter of babywearing, teamed up with Skye to create their own version of a ring sling: one that empowers parents is size-inclusive and eco-friendly.
1. Babywearing reduces infant crying.
According to the journal Pediatrics, babywearing for three hours a day reduced infant crying significantly. Forty-three percent overall and 51% at night, significantly. “That Fourth Trimester is very real. Having your baby close to you really helps them to feel supported and calm and it allows you to react to their needs very quickly” Mallory says.
2. It can decrease the risk of postpartum depression
“Having your baby close to you releases oxytocin,” Mallory explains. “It goes back to being able to meet your baby’s needs quickly. [When you are babywearing], you [may not] have that heightened anxiety when your baby starts to cry because you’re already right there. You’re able to react to their needs, to your own needs, immediately. That skin-to-skin contact, even a hand to your chest or your face, helps to reduce the likelihood of postpartum depression.”
3. It’s not only a mama thing
Unlike nursing, which is exclusively reserved for the biological mother, babywearing and the benefits of babywearing can be for any and all caregivers: all ages, genders, etc. “It’s about bonding,” Mallory explains, “whether it might be other parents, siblings, grandparents…” Skye continues, talking about her own experience with her infant son, “He knows a sling. It’s a safe space for him even if it’s with a new person.”
4. It supports cognitive and social development (& overall health)
“When you have a baby that is on you 24/7 and you’re going about your day-to-day, talking to other people, talking on your phone…they can feel the vibrations of you talking and it really stimulates their brain,” Mallory explains. There are also benefits from a social development perspective from the baby being carried up so high. “They see all the things that you see while still being able to turn away when overstimulated,” she explains. “I think it helps create a real sense of independence.” Some additional health benefits: babywearing helps with temperature regulation and can help prevent flat head syndrome.
5. It allows you to be hands-free
Let’s hear it for the mamas carrying 352,524 things plus trying to push a stroller with two hands. Or…you could wear a ring sling. “The hands-free part is one of the things that I think speaks to a lot of people,” Mallory opines. “One of the things that parents today are dealing with is getting back to their life prior to having a kid. Babywearing allows you to get closer to that. It’ll never be the same as before you had a kid, but babywearing allows some of that independence and freedom. Even when your baby is with you, you still have the ability to cook a meal or go out and get a manicure.”
6. Babywearing could be your summer savior
Babywearing may be the 2021 parenting beach-hack (or, pool, if you prefer) of the season. Not only are hope&plum’s slings washable (“it’s just like clothing,” Skye assures), but they can be used in water and to protect your babe as a sun-shade.
7. It allows for discreet feeding
However you choose to feed your baby, should you want it to be private, the sling gives you that option. “The sling’s tail has so many great uses,” Skye says. For those that may not be as comfortable whipping out their chest anywhere and everywhere, “it’s a nice option,” she says. Additionally, Mallory adds, keeping the baby in the sling allows for a more focused feeding.
8. It keeps strangers at arm’s length
This one is pretty self-explanatory. To all the people (and yes, even the well-intentioned people) who believe they have the right to touch your infant without your permission, babywearing is a great blocker.
9. hope&plum is a community.
Last, but arguably most importantly, is the community aspect of babywearing, especially when you do it via hope&plum. “Babywearing, in general, is a community just like any specific parenting style is,” Skye says. And for hope&plum, they truly live that statement. If you find yourself having difficulty figuring out what length to carry your baby, or how to adjust your sling, you likely will be hearing back directly from the founders themselves. “When you’re a mom, it can be really lonely, especially the first time,” Skye says. “I never really understood that until the pandemic. I’m always social and busy and the pandemic didn’t allow me to do that. Having my babywearing community online — on Instagram, Facebook, our blog… it’s amazing where people who haven’t even bought our slings yet join and just talk about all things parenting.”
This article was written in partnership with hope&plum.