Saturday, May 25, 2013

Babywearing and a Baby's Instinct for Mutual Cooperation

This morning, we spent an hour or so mulching our vegetable garden while Ellie (now 11 months) rode on Millie's back in her Boba 3G. We wear her all the time of course, but it's always amazing how calm she gets when we're working. She was so calm that when Abby's friend came over later in the morning, her stranger anxiety (anyone with a 9-18 month old will know about this) seemed to have completely disappeared.

Ellie loves being carried, of course, but she only seems to zone out like this when we're doing some kind of manual labor. Whether it's garden work or stocking toys at the store, she seems to recognize that we're busy providing for her sustenance and she feels at peace. Dan often walks with her in his Beco Gemini to the store, a two mile trek that always puts Ellie to sleep. Unlike walking, though, working while babywearing seems to put her into a quiet and alert zone. She seems to realize that she should stay awake, observe, and learn while we're working, but simply walking is an invitation to check out.

Ellie at work at the store in her Boba 3G.
We noticed this pattern with our older kids, too, and it seems to be an instinct common to all babies. A recent study from Japan found that human babies (and several other mammalian species) respond immediately to being picked up and carried with a reduced heart rate. The accompanying video dramatically demonstrates a baby crying while sitting in his mother's lap and quieting instantly when she picks him up and walks around.

Importantly, it's the walking around that quiets the baby, not just holding. The study theorizes a system of mutual cooperation between parent and child which is geared to survival. In other words, babies are programmed to be carried while mom or dad gather food or do other work necessary for survival. Babywearing is simply an ancient adaptation that makes getting work done with your baby a lot easier.

Babies unfortunately don't consider typing on a computer or driving a car to be any kind of work. But, the right baby carrier can make doing almost any kind of physical work a lot easier. And, we believe it'll make your baby happier and more peaceful, too.  
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