Hugo Lagercrantz , MD PhD & Ragnar Olegård , MD PhD
On carrying babies and infants in baby carriers
For newborn babies and small infants the first months of life, nearness and close contact with the parents is very important for bonding within the family. The imitating by the infant of the parents face, mimics, body movements and gestures stimulates the development of the brain. Also talking and singing to the infant from birth onwards is crucial for the selection, growth and establishment of pathways within the brain for these functions and activities.
Carrying the baby face to face in upright position makes all these stimuli easy to provide, and a good carrier also offers a proper support for the babies’ body and head. That is necessary the first months of life when the infants neck and back muscles are not strong enough to by themselves support the head and body trunk in the preferred upright position.
Carrying the baby in such way also soothes the baby and support harmony to both parent and infant. We now know that incretion of the hormone oxytocin-“love hormone” - is active in mediating this harmony and bonding in both the parent and the baby.
At the age of 4 to 6 months when the baby has acquired control of head and body support, one can alternate position and intermittently carry the baby looking forward. The baby at this age begin to be more interested also in things in its surrounding and can look around, still in close contact with the parent, who can talk to the baby, point out things and they can experience things in the vicinity together.
Hugo Lagercrantz, MD PhD
Professor of Pediatrics, Astrid Lindgren Children´s Hospital, Karolinska University, Hospital, Sweden
Ragnar Olegård , MD PhD
Associate Professor, Former Head of Neonatology at, Queen Silvia Children´s Hospital, Sahlgrenska University Hospital, Sweden