I’ve an 8-month old baby with sensory processing difficulties and who has had a bit of a rough start from a traumatic birth. Babywearing has been a huge part of our lives as he struggles to tolerate any seating devices especially strollers and car seats. We started with a ring sling when he was home from the hospital, then a hop tei (a modified mei tai Asian carrier), and now as he is older, we also use a more supportive Ergo carrier. It’s our favourite therapeutic, ahem “fun, ” activity. 🙂
I have found many therapeutic benefits to babywearing and often recommend it to parents for these reasons:
1) Deep pressure input, warmth, and comforting smell of parent are calming and organizing. This is particularly helpful for babies who are sensitive to touch, movement, or sounds, who have had long NICU / SCBU stays, or who need support settling into the big, outside world.
2) Boundaries of the carrier give body input and awareness for comfort and motor skills development such as babies with low tone, sensory motor difficulties, or prematurity.
3) Vestibular / movement input – the gentle bouncing, rocking and swaying motions provide movement input which is again soothing but also helps stimulate tone for balance and coordination and make sense of one’s body. The vestibular system is also strongly connected to the visual, auditory, and emotional centres of the brain. Movement helps kids focus, learn, and coordinate both sides of their bodies.
4) Powerful way to bond after a traumatic birth and from personal experience, so fun to interact with baby wherever you go.
You can see how it can either help decrease sensory overload for sensitive babies or provide extra input to babies who need more sensory information. By integrating, touch, body and movement input, we are helping develop multi-sensory processing.
1) Encourages flexed positioning – oftentimes babies with traumatic births, brain bleeds, prematurity, low tone, or sensory processing disorder assume an extended posture due to tightness, arching their back or sensory overload. Heathy, full-term babies are in a flexed curled-up position from the womb. Extension is a red flag. Slings and carriers can be used to help encourage this flexed position. Have your occupational or physical therapist help with positioning.
2) For positioning, remember it is important to face inwards and assume a squatt position. See this article:
3) Alternative to tummy time – many babies struggle wit tummy time for varied reasons. Baby carrying can be a gentle step towards tummy time by holding your baby against you.
4) Upright positioning can be more comfortable for babies with reflux, gutt, or respiratory problems.
UK Sling Libraries
Visit a sling library to try different carriers and find what suits you and your baby.