Why should you carry your child

Child in the Mei Tai baby carrier

Closeness and love is the greatest gift we can give to our child. Nestled in our arms he/she gains confidence, and learns that it is important and loved. He feels that he is safe and that can count on us.

The beginnings of life are difficult for everyone. From the warm and safe mother’s womb we wander directly into the cold, bright unknown world. The baby does not know anything other than its mother, and his/her every movement and gesture indicates how much he/she needs her. Even a newborn, when lifted up, curls up and shows readiness for being hugged.

If we refuse our child the feeling of closeness, and separate him from us by putting him in the stroller or crib, we risk making him feel confused and sad in the strange to him world.

This is how Jean Liedloff in his famous book “The Continuum Concept: In Search of Happiness Lost” describes this extremely important period of our lives:

The period immediately following birth is the most important part of life outside the womb. Anything the child learns then becomes a nature of life for him. Later experiences can only to lesser or greater extend modify this first learning, acquired when the child does not have any information about the outside world yet. His expectations are then the least flexible. The change that awaits the baby after he leaves the protective womb is enormous, but as we have seen, a baby is born prepared for the jump from the womb to mother’s arms.

He is not, however, prepared to other change: to the transition to nothingness, deadness, to woven basket or plastic crib, where there is no sign of movement, sound, smell or life. During pregnancy, a mother and her child have become a certain continuum. Sharp detachment breaking this continuum might understandably result in a mother’s depression and a baby’s torturous feelings.

(Fragment from “The Continuum Concept: In Search of Happiness Lost”)

Jean Liedloff is a precursor of parenting philosophy promoting proximity to the child. She is also an author of the concept of “continuum” applied to the mother-child relationship. She lived among the Indians Yeguana for a long time, observing their natural methods of interacting with children. She noticed that during the first months of life mothers carry their children all the time. After this period little ones are passed under the natural care of the community. Children can grow up this way using their full intellectual, physical and emotional potential.

Sense of security and closeness that comes from being carried, translates later in life to healthy self-esteem and self-confidence.
And yet these are the things that we all want to give to our children. So let’s carry and give hugs. It’s worth it.