1. It’s easier to travel/navigate public places and nature.
My twins are native New Yorkers. We lived in Manhattan when they were born and moved to the Bronx when they were toddlers. They were riding the subway by the time they were 6 weeks old, and they got on a transatlantic flight at 3 months to go visit relatives. I don’t know about where you live, but NYC is a beast to navigate with any stroller, let alone a giant side-by-side or tandem. There are curbs, narrow doorways and aisles, crowded elevators (if you’re lucky) and steep stairs that you must negotiate daily just to go about the normal business of life, not to mention the generally non-ADA compliant public transport. Being able to ditch the double stroller and strap one or both babies onto my body made the city accessible to me, my partner, and my tiny humans. We were able to get out and do errands, go to music class, have park playdates, and visit museums and restaurants without having to worry too much about how we’d fit into the tight spaces all around us. And we could still go on hikes in the woods, walks in the snow, and tour neighborhoods with cobblestone streets – all places with terrain unforgiving of strollers. Bonus: babywearing keeps the handsy strangers and their germs away!
2. Babywearing makes possible handsfree multitasking and exercise.
Babies like to be held. Some babies get really cranky when you try to put them down, even for a moment. My twins were no different. But life goes on. There was laundry to do, dinner to make, a bathroom to clean. I even occasionally needed to sit at the computer and do some work or pay some bills. What’s a harried caregiver to do when adulting coincides with the tyranny of a baby or two? What if you have an older child? A sick or disabled partner or parent? Or a dog who still needs to be walked? Their needs don’t stop because you have young twins. Babywearing to the rescue! Calm a baby, rock or bounce him to sleep, keep her reflux at bay, breastfeed! All while using your hands to do something else. My twins were terrible at napping together, which meant I rarely got a break during the day to get anything done on my own. Whichever one wasn’t sleeping usually got some alone time on my chest while I maneuvered the vacuum or picked up toys or updated my subscribe and save order. I also remember one night in particular when GirlTwin just would not sleep. I walked up and down the hallway, climbed stairs in my building, went out for some fresh air, and just kept moving for HOURS to try to lull her into some type of slumber. Every time I stopped, she’d wake, soon escalating again to full blown wails. I managed to keep moving through my utter exhaustion solely because she was held close by a strong piece of cloth rather than my own arms, which would have given out long before my legs did. Speaking of which, you get pretty strong in your core and your legs when you are carrying around an extra 15-30 pounds pretty regularly. It’s great exercise you don’t need to book a babysitter for! I even took babywearing dance and yoga classes and joined up with my mom friends for some great baby-wearing powerwalks.
3. It supports fourth trimester (and beyond!) bonding and attachment.
Attachment parenting is a whole thing – some people subscribe to it completely, and others roll their eyes at the merest hint of some of its most well-known, crunchy practices. But at the most basic level, it’s about forming healthy attachments with our twins, and that is undoubtedly the goal of every new twin parent. Babywearing is one of the things that definitely helped me! It’s not just for parents, either. Grandparents, aunts and uncles, babysitters and nannies, co-workers, teachers, and friends (who don’t get to wear their own big kids anymore) all can strap on a baby or two for some bonding and cuddles. Just like swaddling, keeping baby “close enough to kiss” in a carrier helps newborns transition from inside to outside, giving them a feeling of warmth and safety while experiencing all of the world’s unfamiliar sights, sounds, and smells. It also helps caregivers stay attuned and responsive to babies’ needs in those early days when you’re still getting to know one another. I was more confident of my twins’ temperature regulation, breathing, and sleep and hunger cues when I could feel them and see them just by peering down. Closeness and skin-to-skin contact with a newborn stimulates production of oxytocin – that hormone that gives us the warm-fuzzies – and can even help mitigate the effects of post-partum anxiety and depression. I knew as a twin mom that I was at a higher risk for PPA/D, so I was happy to have anything in my arsenal to try to stave it off. Babywearing can make breastfeeding easier, too…it can increase milk production and can allow older babies easy access to eat on-demand. My anatomy never really allowed my twins to nurse on the go, but having them already physically supported and close definitely made sitting down for a few minutes to fuel up easier, and for those times that I cared, more discreet.
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4. It also supports cognitive and physical development.
Babywearing has a lot of benefits for our babies’ developing brains and bodies. When they are held close and can observe our faces and witness our interactions, our twins are learning language and social cues. They are exposed to the rich vocabulary we tend to use with other adults more than with our littles. Wearing a baby in an upright position in a carrier also helps them develop strong neck and torso muscles, which is like bonus tummy time. Changing positions of your babies frequently, and keeping them off their backs for extended periods can also help prevent plagiocephaly (flat head). My own BoyTwin was diagnosed with torticollis and has a little flat head issue, but it wasn’t bad enough that he needed a helmet to correct it, and I worked with our PT and did my best not to exacerbate it by keeping his head turned the other way when he was wrapped up on me. And although there’s a myth that certain carriers are harmful to hip joints, the evidence actually shows no link between developmental hip dysplasia and babywearing. In fact, many carriers promote a healthy alignment of baby’s hips and distribute their weight in a comfortable way for baby as well as in such a way that prevents back and arm soreness and posture problems in the wearer.
5. There’s an abundance of beauty and community to find in wraps, makers, and other caregivers
Baby carriers aren’t just utilitarian. They can also be gorgeous works of art and expressions of personality and culture. There are many different styles – from woven wraps to ring slings to backpack styles like the Ergo or Tula or the front-packs like the BabyBjorn. There are even special versions designed specifically for tandem wearing your twins! Skilled weavers all over the world produce amazing textiles that are designed for slings and wraps. Linen, silk, cotton, wool, or nylon mesh…all these materials can be made into the things that keep your babies held tight to your body. I went down a serious rabbit hole myself, and I had wraps for different weather, different carries, and different occasions and outfits. It was a little ridiculous, but it was really fun. And speaking of fun…I found my local babywearing organization to be a great source of camaraderie, education, and friendship. I connected with other caregivers over shared interests in this particular parenting tool, and I got support and tips from members of this community far beyond the subject of babywearing – from feeding to sleep to toilet training to schools. It was a microcosm of my broader village that got me through those longest shortest days of having infant and then toddler twins. I’ve borrowed and loaned carriers for trips and graduations and weddings, and so many of my memories of those first few years as a twin parent are intertwined with the experience of babywearing.
My kids are five now, and we moved to the suburbs where they are able to ride their scooters or two-wheelers if we need to walk for a longer distance. Every once in awhile though, when I’m getting my twin class teaching materials ready, or when one of them catches sight of a certain shelf in my closet, we get out the toddler-sized carriers I can’t quite give up and do uppies for fun. They still feel safe there. And it immediately sends me back to the days when they needed me in a much more visceral and immediate way, and when this tool in my kit made all the difference.
About the author
Sara Rosenzweig Cribbs is TLC’s Philadelphia associate, an attorney and a former high school science teacher. She is mom to 3yo boy/girl twins and has made it her mission to figure out all the ways to make life with multiples as easy as possible. She’s been an active member and trained educator for her local babywearing community and is always delighted to help new twin moms figure out how to wear one or both babies. She’s also been involved in breastfeeding education and support groups, and cherished her nursing relationship well into toddlerhood, even after a rocky start. You can reach Sara at firstname.lastname@example.org for more details on our Philadelphia services.