Infant Carrying in the US: Survey of Current Practices, Physical and Mental Benefits, & Challenges

Research & Knowledge,

Journal of Women’s Health Physical Therapy

Infant Carrying in the United States: A Survey of Current Practices, Physical and Mental Health Benefits and Challenges of Babywearing

Special Issue 2022 –  The Fourth Trimester: Optimizing Health

In this research report by Havens et al., researchers investigated current trends and practices related to baby wearing in the U.S. Baby wearing has significantly grown in popularity in the last few decades in Western countries, although it dates to our early hominid ancestors. Recent changes may be due to its promotion of attachment parenting, increased availability of baby carriers on the market, or it might be related to the numerous proposed benefits. 

This report looks to identify the current practices, self-identified health benefits, and challenges of caregivers who babywear.  Researchers hypothesized frequent strategies, mental and physical challenges, as well as the mental and physical benefits of babywearing between caregiver and child. 

Based on a survey designed to provide insight into current babywearing practices in the U.S., researchers concluded that: 

  • Babywearing allows for multitasking and bonding/attachment 
  • Increased babywearing was associated with improvements in fatigue, insonnia, and interest in sex among caregivers 
  • Back pain is common (82%) among people who babywear 
  • Instances of urinary incontinence and pelvic organ prolapse may be higher in people who babywear, although further research is needed 
  • No relationship was identified between babywearing and mental health scales in caregivers 

This data provides a better understanding of physical and mental health of caregivers in the United States, especially as they relate to baby wearing. Most respondents reported using soft structured carriers and wearing the baby on the front of the body at least weekly. More frequency carrying seemed to be associated with a positive, if not protective, effect on physical health. It also appears that babywearing can have a positive effect on mental health, although more research is needed.

To read the full research report and view the full survey, check out the JWHPT or click here.