Does too Much Baby Wearing Impede an Infants Motor Skill Development?

There is an interesting article from the 2009 July issue of Scientific American Magazine: “Crawling May Be Unnecessary for Normal Child Development“.

As a parent who is pro-baby wearing, I have to admit being somewhat conflicted about “over carrying” my baby since it is commonly accepted that babies need “tummy time” for their development.  Failure to offer adequate tummy time is thought to delay a child’s motor skill development.  Tummy time offers a baby the opportunity to learn to crawl.

Interestingly, it has recently been argued that crawling might actually be a fairly recent development in the history of “modern” humans.  A study on babies of the Au hunter-gatherers of Pa­pua New Guinea revealed that these infants do not go through a crawling phase.  Instead, they are carried until they are able to walk on their own.  Whenever the babies are placed on the ground (which is usually a rare occasion), they are placed in an upright position and propped up in sitting positions.  Au babies don’t go through the normal crawling phase that most babies in developed countries do, instead they tend to sit upright and scoot along on their bottoms to move from one location to another.

Not crawling offers some other benefits as well – it reduces an infant’s exposure to ground pathogens.  Historically, the main reasons for reducing an infant’s floor time is largely protective.  By keeping infants close to their parents, they are kept safe from predators.  Unlike our modern floors which are usually kept clean and free from potentially dangerous objects, infants had to be kept safe from such objects.

Looks like it is okay to carry your baby as much as you like after all.  Your baby will learn to walk without floor time and will not be physically or developmentally handicapped for it.  That’s great news for me since I recently bought myself the Ergo Carrier for Gareth and I fully intend to maximise my usage of it.

With the peacock

About the author

Shen-Li Shen-Li is a stay-home mum to two boys who have been the inspiration for her interest in early childhood development and early child education. She searches for the balance in child development methods and the educational philosophies that will enable the nurture of happy, confident and successful children. She shares her views and findings at Figur8.


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Comments

  1. Yes, I loved carrying Gavin in a carrier, too. It was so much more convenient than hauling a cumbersome stroller around. Over here, strollers are even more inconvenient because the environment is not “wheel” friendly. There are lots of obstacles that make it difficult to get around with a stroller.

    I always felt so mobile with Gavin snuggled close to me. I could also see from the day I first put him into the carrier that he loved it! I wouldn’t want anything different for Gareth when he is born.

  2. Love the article! It reaffirms everything I believe about babywearing. It is the most natural thing in the world, aside from breastfeeding.

    I’ve been criticised for carrying baby all day but it feels natural to carry her and keep her safe and close to me while I go about my day. Never in the past have parents left their babies lying on some mat while they go hunt for food, they’d be too vulnerable.

    I’ve been criticised for wanting to carry my toddler on the back too with baby in front but isn’t that what children need? Reassurance that they are loved too, especially during this tenuous time when a new sibling is in the picture. I was grateful that he would be happy to be carried in the back (novel too, I suppose).

    We see Caucasian parents back carrying their toddlers all the time. I feel no shame or anything other than pride, carrying both my kids. I won’t sacrifice my children’s bonding with each other because someone has some irrelevant comment to make.

    Will post a photo soon. :D

  3. figur8 says:

    I completely agree. I was talking to another Mum-friend recently about baby carrying and we were griping about how we didn’t like strollers because the local environment is so unfriendly to wheels. It’s just so much more practical to wear baby. I always felt so much more mobile wearing Gavin around – I never had to worry about encountering stairs or escalators, and never had to search for lifts.

  4. I’ve often wondered about babies crawling being a recent development. I have had images of babies crawling in the African desert or on a rain forest floor among insects and poisonous plants. It seemed unlikely that babies would be incourage to crawl around these environments. As one that practices baby carrying whenever possible, I many times wonder how parents function without it. I have often pondered that the reason we didn’t evolve to have pouches is because we have opposable thumbs that allow us to make our own.

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