The infant who fails to thrive also benefits from babywearing. Some babies, for a variety of medical reasons, are very slow to gain weight, the condition called “failure to thrive”. In our pediatric practice, and for one of our own babies, we have used babywearing as a therapeutic tool to stimulate thriving. My doctor’s orders to parents are very simple: “Put your baby on in the morning and take him off at night. Wear him down for naps and to sleep. Wear him when you go out and about the house. Take long relaxing walks while wearing your baby. This will help both of you thrive.”
How does babywearing help babies thrive? Motion does good things for growing babies. It has a calming effect on infants. They cry less and therefore divert the energy they would have wasted on crying into growing. Also, proximity increases feeding frequency, another reason that babywearing stimulates growth. Frequent feedings are a potent stimulus for growth. Perhaps babywearing promotes growth hormones and body enzymes that enhance growth. This has been shown to be true in experimental animals. I believe that in addition to these growth- promoting effects babywearing helps babies thrive because of the organizing effect on baby. The baby’s overall biological system seems to work better when she is worn.