New Evidence on Positive Impact of Babywearing on Parents’ Mental Health

Over half of new parents experiencing mental health issues

Our new survey has found that 57% of new parents experienced mental health issues in their first year, but 89% of parents surveyed said that using a baby carrier had a positive impact on their mental health.

We all know how challenging that first year of parenthood can be. But in the last 2 years, I’ve seen a huge increase in parents really struggling with anxiety, depression, and PTSD. Many mums had to give birth without their partners during the pandemic, and a huge proportion have been cut off from emotional and practical support during the lockdowns. We surveyed 271 families this month, and the majority said they had experienced mental health issues in their baby’s first year

“It is no wonder that we have suffered so badly, having to fend for ourselves at a time where we need reassurance and care,” agrees Tessa van der Vord, a Specialist Mental Health Midwife based in South West London. “It’s lonely, isolating, and uncertain. There’s a common quote, “it takes a village to raise a child” – but these parents had no village in the height of lockdown.”

Add to that financial pressure and reduced access to health services, it’s unsurprising that so many parents are struggling

Similar surveys between 2010 and 2020 gave figures between 20% and 40%, so we’re seeing a worrying upwards trend. This finding is backed up by the Babies in Lockdown report, which found that 6 in 10 (61%) parents had significant concerns about their mental health in the first 6 months of the pandemic – with only 3 in 10 (32%) being confident that they could find help for their mental health if needed.

The last year or so has been hard, with Covid around and feeling like the world is full of invisible danger. I’ve found myself sometimes feeling quite anxious about how small and vulnerable my baby is to all this. Keeping my little boy close by babywearing has bought me such a sense of calm.

But when it comes to mental health, it’s often simple everyday actions that can have the biggest impact. Like using a baby carrier and going for a walk with your baby. A whopping 98% of those parents surveyed said they or their partner had used a baby carrier, sling or wrap during their baby’s first year; with 89% stating that it had positively impacted their mental health.

It just goes to show how small things can have a huge impact on mental health

I set up Wear My Baby 8 years ago to do just that, supporting Mums and Dads who were struggling in those early days of parenting. Using a baby carrier increases parent-child bonding and can help combat post-natal depression. It’s also hugely practical. You’ve got your hands free and can get outside for exercise and to socialise.

My baby carrier saved my sanity in those early weeks and months. I have a ‘Velcro’ baby who would not be put down and hated his pram. Using a carrier meant I could leave the house, go for walks and get fresh air.… My mental health was extremely poor for the first 2 months of my sons life, thankfully it improved gradually and I’m certain that babywearing played a big role in this.

‘Babywearing was my saviour. I was unable to hold one of my children for 2months as he was so unwell, and then when I was able to I was incredibly anxious and suffering with postnatal depression. Carrying my baby in a wrap helped me feel like I was creating a bond that I was worried about not being there. I felt like I was able to keep him safe again and it reduced my anxiety almost to nothing over a few weeks and I no longer felt like I had lost time with my son.’

Dr Rosie Knowles, GP, and author of Why Babywearing Matters, said ‘We know that close contact: first beginning with skin to skin at birth, and then with regular cuddles and closeness all help to build a happy brain. Children expect to be held; it is the place where they are safe…. A good baby carrier can be a very useful tool in this circumstance – as well as in more normal times: the closeness builds a strong sense of security for a child and builds a sense of competence and confidence for a parent.’

‘It’s the best parenting tool! We stress so much less about sleep now. For me, the mum, having had Postnatal Depression, it also helps me feel empowered to be the parent I want to be which has really helped my mental health.’

Baby carriers aren’t just another gadget or trend: carrying our babies is something humans have done throughout history. At a time when we’ve been physically separated from those we love, keeping our babies close has never been more important.

Published January 2022.

Here’s more advice on babywearing safety. 

New Evidence of the Positive Impact of Babywearing on Parents' Mental Health
Article Name
New Evidence of the Positive Impact of Babywearing on Parents' Mental Health
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New survey shows 57% of new parents experience mental health issues; 89% of parents say that using a baby carrier had a positive impact on their mental health.
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Wear My Baby
Hannah Wallace

Hannah Wallace

One of the UK's top babywearing consultants, Hannah founded Wear My Baby in 2014. She has worked with over 10,000 families and has trained with Slingababy, the School of Babywearing and L'ecole A Porter.

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