Hands-free fathers proudly wear their babies in carriers

Hands-free fathers proudly wear their babies in carriers

The idea of nurturing an infant through bodily and eye contact is one we take for granted today. But 30-odd years ago, this was a radical concept put forward by paediatricians that had yet to gain acceptance in the mainstream.

You only have to conjure up images of post-war mothers setting their babies down in cots or prams to consider how 'revolutionary' the age-old practice of baby carrying was to the Western world of the 1970s, when Swedish baby products company BabyBjörn launched its first baby carrier in a bid to facilitate strong relationships between infants and parents through physical closeness.

The intimate fit of a baby carrier allows the baby to feel at one with the parent, soothing unease through physical contact 

The baby carrier's aim is to enhance the infant-parent bond from birth. The entry into the world of a baby is an overwhelming experience for a new family. For a newborn, the reassurance of its parent's closeness through bodily warmth, touch and the sounds of a parent's heartbeat and voice aid its transition from the womb to the outside world.

Studies were published in the 1970s on the importance of eye-to-eye contact in infant-parent bonding. As a result, mothers were encouraged to have carry and have frequent skin-to-skin contact with their baby, and fathers to be more engaged in infant nurturing.

Founder of BabyBjörn Björn Jakobson eagerly followed this research and soon developed the first of many world-famous baby carriers, under the guidance of medical experts.

Having worked extensively with child safety for almost a decade, starting with the BabyBjörn bouncing cradle in 1961 (a chair that sits in a metal frame and bounces gently when a sitting baby moves), Björn understood how important it was to take seriously the opinion of health care professionals in regard to infant care.

The safety of BabyBjörn's products is the company's top priority. Its baby carrier is approved by leading paediatricians and midwives across the world.

From birth, the baby carrier allows parents to carry their baby in a beneficial upright position, mimicking how babies are carried in their parents' arms. This position is recommended by paediatricians to allow for correct hip joint development and proper support for the head, spine and hips during the first months of life.

Freedom of movement is important for babies, especially between six and twelve months when their 'sixth sense' of balance and equilibrium reaches peak sensitivity. Stimulated by physical motion, a baby's sense of balance and motor development is enhanced by moving in sync with the parent, while maintaining control over his or her arms and legs.

BabyBjörn's baby carriers are adaptable to accommodate a baby's development and tripled weight gain during their first year of life. They allow older babies who can hold their heads up to be carried facing forward, enabling them to observe their surroundings while feeling safe and protected against their parent's chest.

The intimate fit of a baby carrier allows the baby to feel at one with the parent, soothing unease through physical contact.

Touch, cuddling and eye-to eye contact are integral to new parents forming a strong bond with infants. Research shows that parents who bond in this manner with their babies in their first six months are able to more easily connect with their children in the future. Such a relationship allows for the development of healthy self-esteem for the child, and assists in their ability to establish successful relationships with others.

While baby carriers give parents security and closeness to their children, they are also an attractive fashion statement. Brad and Angelina weren't the first celebrity couple to be snapped wearing BabyBjörn baby carriers when they first paraded their baby twins to the public at Tokyo airport in January of this year.

Baby carriers are designed to appeal to both parents, encouraging both mothers and fathers to carry their babies. What was unheard at the time of the BabyBjörn baby carrier's inception is now commonplace: hands-free fathers are to be seen everywhere proudly wearing their babies in carriers.

Their ease of use is paramount to their success. To be able to adjust them for use by both mother and father, and to easily and gently remove a carrier containing a sleeping baby are important features that BabyBjörn's baby possess. Versions of BabyBjörn baby carriers are available with hip and back support, and with breathable mesh material that keeps both baby and parent cool during Australia's hot summers.

In June of this year, the BabyBjörn Baby Carrier Synergy (pictured), with mesh fabric and back support, received an Australian International Design Award, attesting to its design excellence and quality. Björn explain, “Knowing that our baby carriers are appreciated by millions of babies all over the world is very encouraging.”

Since Björn Jakobson's inspiration 35 years ago to create a safe baby carrier that assisted babies to adapt to life outside the womb, an estimated 22 million babies all around the world have been carried by BabyBjörn baby carriers. Perhaps you were one of them?

Discuss with other parents in the birth to 6 months forum.