Being an eco-conscious parent often means taking a look at the footprint of all the baby gear we are told we just have to own in accordance to properly raise our children. Sometimes, this means finding greener options, sometimes this means using hand-me-down onesies from your older sister, and sometimes this means opting out altogether from purchasing things that will become quickly obsolete.
When decreasing your “baby footprint”, consider whether or not you really require a stroller. Strollers are expensive, use a lot of fossil fuel resources and generate a lot of toxic waste from manufacture, to packaging and shipment to your local store, all the way to their final resting place in the landfill after they inevitably wear out.
Better for Baby, Better for Mom and Dad
Not only do strollers have a large ecological footprint from cradle to grave, but they might not be good for your child’s development either. Recent studies have shown that strollers in which your baby faces away from you could risk long-term development problems in your children.
For most of human history, there have been no strollers, nor any heavy “Baby Bucket” carseats to lug around. Even today, most of the world’s parents use cloth wraps of multiple types to wear their babies on their bodies. In the last couple of years, many Americans and Europeans have returned to the practice too. Studies have shown that babywearing has many advantages for infants and young children as well as for the carrying parent. Here are five of them:
- Babies who are carried often cry less: A 1986 randomized, controlled study by Hunziker and Burr showed that carrying an infant 2 additional hours per day reduced crying overall by 43%, or one entire hour.
- Babywearing is good for babies physically: In accordance to Dr. Eckhard Bonnet in a 1998 article published on Didymos, a baby wrap or sling holds a baby’s body in a comfortable, correct position, much as the womb carries a fetus before birth. Upright carrying also massages your baby’s abdomen which promotes healthy digestion, and prevents physical abnormalities associated with infants who spend large amounts of time lying on their backs or bellies.
- Baby wearing Encourages healthy mental and emotional development: Since in-arms parenting meets your baby’s requirement for warmth, comfort and access to breastfeeding, babies cry less and spend more time in a quiet, alert state. While in this state they are better able to learn about their environment and develop mentally and socially. As long as you can carry them, toddlers also enjoy being worn, and benefit greatly from interacting with others at eye-level instead of being looked down upon in a stroller.
- Baby wearing Makes Parenting Easier: Carrying baby in a sling, wrap or pack frees your hands to work, or assist in the needs or older children while still being able to give your baby the closeness she needs. Many slings also allow for breastfeeding while on the go. If yours is the type of baby that requires to be held during naps, like mine was, doing it with a baby carrier allows you to get some work done, or to do almost any other activity.
- Baby wearing Promotes Attachment: Baby wearing allows you to bond with your baby and learn to meet your child’s needs more quickly. Baby wearing even assists mothers who might be suffering from depression to nurture their babies with less effort. Preemies and sick-infants even grow and heal faster when worn, especially when the baby and parent are skin-to-skin. This is sometimes called “Kangaroo care”, and is increasingly practiced in hospital neonatal intensive care units.
No wonder more and more Western parents are baby wearing these days; It should be no surprise that that what has worked for parents for thousands of years works just as well when adapted for modern times!
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed/shared in the blog above are personal opinions of the writer. Berrytree recommends you consult with your doctor/pediatrician/family before instinctively following any suggested steps
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