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Dads and Babywearing – the benefits for them , their babies and partners

Today’s fathers are not just dipping their toes into the emotional and physical challenge of childrearing, they are plunging in! Many more Australian fathers are attending their children’s births, supporting their partner throughout labour and expressing pride at sharing their baby’s first moments outside the womb. Shared nappy changes and midnight feedings are now becoming the norm.  Today’s dad is a new breed indeed!

Historically, the role of fathers has been much less emotionally engaged and more defined by strict, authoritative and disciplinarian figures. Since the beginning of this century, a transition towards a more proactive and hands-on fathering role has served our families well.  Although fathers are still predominantly working outside the home, they are investing a far greater amount of time in their parenting roles, right from pregnancy. They are more public in embracing their new role and more vocal in expressing the joy it brings them.

Both new mums and dads are increasingly turning to the practice of wearing their baby in a sling or carrier to promote healthy emotional attachment and to simply balance their needs with that of their baby. No longer just seen as a hippie parenting practice, Babywearing is now enjoyed by a wide spectrum of parents from all walks of life worldwide.

Babywearing can offer new dads a positive way to enjoy his baby from birth. Fathers using slings and carriers for extended periods of time experience many benefits including:

  • the ability to care for both partner and baby simultaneously while remaining hands-free
  • natural feel-good hormones, such as oxytocin, which trigger paternal protective behaviours
  • the ability to learn baby’s cues and signals much sooner than non-babywearing dads
  • a relaxed confidence about being identified as a caregiver
  • a great start to life for both dads and their babies!

While women have nine months to literally ‘grow’ into their new role as mothers, men do not share the distinct physical transition of pregnancy and birth to mark the beginning of their new role. Fathers therefore tend to discover their parental footing a little more slowly. Babywearing may accelerate this process for new dads as they spend more time in close contact getting to know their newborns more intimately. A new babywearing dad enjoys simple pleasures; the sweet milky smell of his newborn, the nuzzle of soft downy hair against his chest and the dreamy sounds of a sleeping baby.

A few factors however can easily hamper a new dad’s confidence.  Particularly during the early stages, many dads often feel inadequate to care for both their infant and their partner. Without the safety net of mum’s trusty breasts nearby, the prospect of looking after baby solo, can trigger fears for a new dad. A new mother’s natural protectiveness towards her newborn can also leave new dads feeling sidelined and not able to trust their feelings or intuition. Paternal post-partum depression is a newly recognised issue that certainly warrants further investigation. Since Babywearing fosters emotional attachment, it breeds confidence and joy and is therefore an ingenious way to combat negative issues faced by new dads as identified above.

The growing collection of Babywearing Dads on our Facebook page illustrates how a new baby can wholeheartedly be integrated into regular family activities. Dads can be seen mowing the lawn with toddler on their back in an ERGObaby Carrier, attending car shows, travelling the beaten track, walking on the beach and even attending army parades in full uniform!  Why put the brakes on your lifestyle when a baby arrives? Babywearing provides a tool for inclusive and joyful parenting!

Since there are so many babywearing options available, selecting a dad-friendly baby carrier or sling will ensure that he will get maximum use and enjoyment out of it. Dads prefer models that don’t inhibit their everyday activities. Feminine patterns, ties or sashes are usually avoided, with a preference for streamline designs in gender neutral or dark colours. Dads are more sensitive than mums to overheating in a baby carrier and therefore prefer lighter-weight fabrics. The ERGObaby Carrier is a sure top-pick for dads worldwide since it can be worn from birth to 20kgs on the front, back or hip. It features a compact, back-pack style design with easy-to-use buckles.

While research on the effect of a father’s role is value laden, current studies point towards the fact that fathers are essential for a child’s holistic wellbeing and that paternal influences do have a positive effect upon a child’s socio-emotional development.

Babywearing offers new dads and their babies the best start in life – the chance to build a strong, lasting relationship from the very start.

Do you know a dad who enjoys Babywearing? Leave us comment about what he likes the most about it.

 

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