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Almost any mom will admit that she wants her baby to be one of the clever ones – a smart little chap. We know life is easier for bright and clever people. For this reason as parents we invest time and energy in ensuring that our baby develops optimally and is well stimulated.
Research is constantly looking at the key influences on intelligence. Timothy Taylor, PhD, in his book The Artificial Ape, published in July 2010, looks at the inventions that changed the course of human development. As we know, human babies are born less mature than almost any other mammal on earth and their survival depends on the mother (or father) to care for the baby 24 hours a day. In prehistoric times, only the stronger and more mature babies would survive. The intelligent but physically weaker babies would simply not survive. The invention of the baby sling over 2 million years ago changed all this. By being carried by their mothers in an ‘artificially lengthened gestation’, human babies had a significantly greater chance of survival and became brighter with more well developed brains. There are good reasons for this:
Slings mimic the womb world
In the calm world of the womb, your baby is rocked and soothed with movement all day. It is not surprising that many newborn babies fuss when they are put down in the early days. Your baby is signalling that she wishes to be held and soothed by your body’s movements. However, holding a baby can over stimulate them if they are passed from person to person or fiddled with. A better way to hold your baby is with consistent touch, such as that provided by a baby carrier. By imitating the womb world, you can expect a calmer and happier baby. If your baby is calmer more of the time, she will be more available to stimulation and will learn readily from her world.
Read more about the womb to world effect on infant calming
Slings enhance social awareness
Babies who are carried in slings see the world through their mom’s eyes and vice versa. The baby learns from mom’s face and her expressions and is more in touch with language – both verbal and non verbal. Likewise, by having your baby against your chest, you can read her signals and see what she is looking at. This enhances language development as well as social skills, which are a vital part of intelligence.
Not only does a content baby learn more from her world in the calm alert state, but in addition, the motion of your body stimulates your baby’s vestibular system, developing muscle tone and enhancing motor development.
Our brains need a certain amount of movement to sleep well for long periods, just think how well you sleep after a good hike or exhilarating run. Babies are no different and it is known that babies who are ‘worn’ during the day sleep better and for longer stretches day and night. A well rested baby is more available to learn from stimulation and can concentrate on activities for longer.
Of course there are numerous other tools and activities we do in the first three years of life that encourage our baby to reach her potential, but a sling is such an easy way to encourage your baby’s intelligence and development! So here is to slings.
By Meg Faure