top of page

Expressing love through babywearing

Updated: Apr 7


colourful swirls on black background make image of adult and child held close

This article was first published in the Natural Parent Magazine, Issue 48, Spring 2022. This beautiful artwork is called "Mother and child - the joy of hugs" by Svetlana Gudilova - and here with permission.


There are different ways to express and receive love, as introduced to me by dear friends some years ago when it became apparent they weren’t as enamoured with hugs and words of endearment as I was. Upon reflection, it should have been obvious within the way my own family reacted to my embraces flung around with abandon. I wish we had realised earlier on that love is not expressed just in terms of physical affection and statements of love, I think it would have saved us all much discomfort and awkwardness.


The theory that my friends introduced me to was that of the Five Love Languages (1). This theory proposes that there are five different ways to express and receive love: Words of affirmation; quality time; physical touch; acts of service; receiving gifts.


Despite the limitations in the validity of the theory across populations and cultures (2, 3), many people find use in the proposed five languages of love, in understanding how we give and receive love, improving their connection with self and others. When it comes to our babies, they are not able to voice their preferences (1), however it is my perspective that babywearing could tick all five boxes as a way for you, your child, and others to express love, connect and strengthen relationships. No matter which language you, your child, and others prefer, perhaps babywearing can help you give and receive love whilst your child is snuggled up on your chest.


Words of affirmation


This language uses words, to express love (1). Although our children may be too young to use words, they can still express their love through gurgles, gazing adoringly up into our eyes as they are held close. When your child is held to you in a carrier, it is easy to whisper words of love into their ears as they are so close.

Words of kindness, encouragement, praise, and appreciation are all ways to affirm your love with your child. Others supporting you can also take the opportunity to snuggle with your child in a carrier and voice their love.


Quality time


For some people, giving another their undivided attention is how they express love (1). In your child’s view, there is nothing more quality than spending time with their special humans. Especially time spent exploring the world and learning together. What better way to do this than snuggled onto a carer’s chest when out and about, then snoozing as desired?


As a carer of a young child, I acknowledge that it is difficult to give any one thing undivided attention for any length of time, whilst balancing all the demands of family life. Regardless of how divided your attention is, holding your child close allows you to spend time, make regular eye contact, listen, and attend to them as you go about your day. Others supporting you can also spend quality time with your child by popping them in a carrier.


Going out into the garden; showing and explaining interesting things in the surroundings; going for a walk; dancing in the lounge room; doing chores; holding them as they sleep – the options for enjoying each other’s company and spending quality time with a child in a carrier are endless.


Physical touch


For some people, the ultimate expression of love is by appropriate physical touch (1). Physical touch can express different things, such as comfort or joy, and connection. Whilst snuggled in a carrier, the opportunities for physical touch are plentiful. Your child is obviously resting their body and head on your chest and can also use their hands to reach out and touch your face and arms.


With your child held close to your chest, you can hold their hands; hug them; touch their face, arms, hair, and feet; pat their backs; snuggle into them; kiss their heads. Others supporting you can also express their love for your child in this way whilst in a carrier. And holding your child in a carrier doesn’t need to restrict the physical affection expressed with a partner - my four-year-old son still loves a “family hug” with him gently squished in between his parents, a legacy of our carrier family squeezes.


Acts of service


Actions speak louder than words for those giving and receiving love by acts of service (1). There would be no greater act of service than being available to respond to your child at any time. When your child is held close in a carrier on your chest, you can notice each grunt, grimace, and grizzle, and respond to your child’s needs in real time.


Bringing your child with you as you go about your day, including them in the activities of life, allowing them to experience and share your life, is a wonderful way to show your love. Holding another’s child close may be seen as an act of service, as the person offering themselves as an alternative safe space for the child and helping with managing the day’s tasks.


Many people enjoy expressing their love by sharing their babywearing knowledge and skillsets, supporting new families to learn the art of babywearing. Indeed, in many cultures this may be a given as sharing of intergenerational wisdom.


Receiving gifts


For some, giving and receiving heartfelt gifts is how they feel loved (1). I suspect that perhaps your child does not care what type of carrier you use, if they are safe, comfy, and warm.


Perhaps you take the opportunity to purchase a carrier you’ve had your eye on that makes your heart sing. Or for that practical purpose of the ability to transform into hands-free. If you have a carrier that you enjoy using because of aesthetics or practical purposes, then you may be more likely to use it and hold your baby close.

Many people enjoy expressing their love by giving the gift of babywearing, as they see it as a practical, thoughtful, environmentally friendly, life-long gift for both carer and child. It is a lovely opportunity for friends and family to gift new carers all things babywearing - carriers, consults, vouchers, memberships, and the like.


Hold each other close


All these ways of giving and receiving love allow the release of oxytocin, the so-called feel-good love hormone. Oxytocin is a powerful “mediator of anti-stress, well-being, social interaction, growth and healing” (3). Oxytocin can be released in anyone in response to touch, warmth, food, smell, sound, light, positive thoughts, and positive interactions (3). Keeping your baby close to you in a carrier promotes the release of feel-good hormones, health, and wellbeing in both of you. By recognising your preferences for giving and receiving love, you can connect more deeply with yourself, your child, and others, strengthening your understanding and relationships (2). Babywearing can support expression of love for self, your child, and others, now and into the future.


Love, Kato x


References

1. Chapman, G. (1995). The five languages of love. Chicago: Northfield. https://5lovelanguages.com

2. Guy-Evans, O. (2022). What Are the Five Love Languages? Simply Psychology. www.simplypsychology.org/five-love-languages.html

3. Egbert, N., & Polk, D. (2006). Speaking the language of relational maintenance: A validity test of Chapman's Five Love Languages. Communication Research Reports, 23(1), 19-26. https://doi.org/10.1080/17464090500535822

4. Uvnas-Moberg, K., & Petersson, M. (2005). Oxytocin, a mediator of anti-stress, well-being, social interaction, growth, and healing. Zeitschrift fur Psychosomatische Medizin und Psychotherapie, 51(1), 57-80. https://doi.org/10.13109/zptm.2005.51.1.57




10 views

Recent Posts

See All

Comentarios


bottom of page