Babywearing as an Inclusionary Act

Babywearing creates a familial and social environment that promotes inclusion of the child or parent into the lives of the people around them. This can humanize premature births, NICU stays, illnesses and other disease processes.  (Tessier, R., Cristo, M., Velez, S., Giron, M., de Calume, Z., Ruiz-Palaez, J., et al. Kangaroo mother care and the bonding hypothesis. Pediatrics, 1998;102(2): 17.)

Normalizing disabilities is an important and necessary social process. When people are able to navigate their respective environments without undue difficulty, it promotes seeing the person first and not the disability.

Babywearing can allow for activities that do not otherwise provide wheelchair accessibility. Babywearing can provide parents opportunities for social interactions while wearing devices such as feeding pumps and monitoring equipment. Children with tracheostomies, gastric tubes, and other medical equipment can be worn while parents shop, take walks or attend social events. In a study done on parenting in the NICU, Kangaroo Mother Care caused parents to see their infants as “normal” as opposed to “sick” or “disabled”.5 If babywearing provides similar results, this benefit could positively affect parental outlook on children with disabilities.

For parents who have mobility issues, hearing/sight deficits, sensory processing or mental health disorders, babywearing can improve their view of their own parenting skills and independence as a caregiver. It is not feasible to push a stroller and operate your own wheelchair at the same time, unless you are carrying a child hands-free. Buckles, sling rings, ties, Velcro and other attachment devices can be used as assistive devices on baby carriers. Accessing resources such as a babywearing educator and an occupational therapist can be very helpful in choosing or making safe modifications to a carrier to accommodate for decreased muscle strength, missing limbs or visual impairments. Babywearing eliminates concerns about children wandering off. This benefit has the potential to change a disabled parent’s outlook on the possibility of social interactions and events they may not have previously considered.

Two blogs featuring babywearing as an inclusionary act:

Video by Whitney Bynum on wearing her daughter:

BWI article featuring babywearing as inclusionary:

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