Our society places a great emphasis on making babies and children independent from us before they are developmentally ready for doing so. The fear of “spoiling” your child and creating a “rod for your own back” crates turmoil in parents as it totally contradicts their instincts to support and comfort their child. Holding our babies close is biologically, psychologically and emotionally beneficial for us and our babies, it does not create clingy children. In fact, it does the opposite.
1. Secure Attachment
Before independence must come dependence. Before our children can be independent from us, we have to create a secure base. They have to know that they can depend on us for everything. Not just their physical needs such as feeding and nappies, but their psychological and emotional needs too, and this is beyond simply just holding them to stop them crying. Babies want to be on us when they’re awake too! A sling or carrier makes this possible. “I can’t put my baby down” is one of the most frequent issues new parents come to me with, and I reassure them that this is totally and absolutely normal.
“Attachment allows children the ‘secure base’ necessary to explore, learn and relate, and the wellbeing, motivation, and opportunity to do so.” https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2169321/
2. Circle of Security
Using a sling provides your child with a safe space they can always retreat to when they are overwhelmed, scared or upset. They can develop the confidence to explore the world safe in the knowledge that you will always be there to help to regulate their feelings. A sling or carrier means that safe haven is portable and ready to go whenever they need it. It also means that you can involve other family members as they can also use the sling or carrier to help make your child feel secure.
3. Emotional Needs
It is often easy to forget about our children’s emotional needs before they can communicate to us how they’re feeling, without crying. As an adult we need hugs frequently, and not just when we’re upset. Babies and children need this even more. Using a sling helps to meet this emotional need, whilst also giving you your hands back. A key time is when you are preparing a meal and your child wants to be held. Carrying your child in a sling enables you to keep going, while also meeting the need for closeness with your child.
“We need four hugs a day for survival. We need 8 hugs a day for maintenance. We need 12 hugs a day for growth.” https://www.healthline.com/health/hugging-benefits#5
4. Adjustment Time
A lot of children need “warm up time” when they arrive at a new space or situation, or they are presented with new people. They cling to you, because you are their rock. You are their safe place. A sling or carrier holds them close and tight which can speed up the “adjustment time” they may require. It means you can be with them for longer so the natural process of them gaining confidence to explore can fully play out.
“Every child has his own way of approaching the world, which we call “temperament.” Temperament is not something your child chooses, nor is it something that you created.” https://www.zerotothree.org/resources/13-supporting-a-child-who-is-slow-to-warm-up
When we feel threatened, overwhelmed or insecure we often cling to our children so we don’t “lose” them. I find this with large crowds, or using the Underground. By using a sling or carrier to keep my children close to me I know they are safe. We cling together for comfort and reassurance that we are all ok. Clinging to each other is good for us. We are a clinging species.
If you’d like to explore how a sling or carrier can help to support your child to gain dependence, why not book a consultation? I have over 100 slings and carriers in my library available for hire and I have a handpicked selection available for purchase.