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In this episode we’re talking with Emily E. Little, Ph.D. all about babywearing/carrying. Emily completed her Ph.D. at University of California, San Diego in developmental psychology with a specialization in anthropogeny, which is the study of human origins. Her research program examines maternal-infant health behavior from a cultural and psychological perspective, focusing on the intersection of physical contact, breastfeeding, and communication. She has used her skills as a Certified Lactation Educator Counselor (CLEC) and a Volunteer Babywearing Educator (VBE) to conduct health outreach programs internationally, including lactation education programs for community health centers in Bolivia and Kangaroo Mother Care training programs for maternal health centers in Guatemala.
Emily is the founder and director of the nonprofit organization Nurturely. She was inspired to start Nurturely to promote increased collaboration between researchers, physicians, community health workers, and caregivers in conducting impactful, interdisciplinary research and implementing evidence-based outreach programs to support the health and development of infants and their caregivers.
Here’s an overview of what’s covered in this episode:
- Emily’s background and how she became interested in babywearing and infant attachment
- When/why research began on the topic
- How babywearing can positively impact preterm babies
- How babywearing is different in the US versus other cultural contexts
- The relationship between babywearing and infant feeding
- Emily’s current research projects
- Babywearing and infant development
- Babywearing and hip dysplasia
- How early you can start wearing your baby and how long you can continue
- A little info about different types of carriers
- Notes on babywearing safety
- Info about the work that Emily’s non-profit, Nurturely, is doing and how it ties into babywearing
- Some links to the resources that were mentioned in this episode:
- Just one example of the cultural uniqueness of the US with regard toour relatively little amount of physical contact with infants: mothers in the US are in physical contact with 3- to 4-month-old infants for 18% of a 24-hour period in comparison with communities in Africa where mothers are in physical contact with infants 79%-99% of the time
- Benefits ofdirect skin-to-skin contact for preterm/term infants in the hours immediately after birth (just a few of my favorites, definitely not an exhaustive list!): lower infant cortisol reactivity, decreased postpartum depression symptoms, increased infant alertness, improved infant motor and cognitive development, increased breastfeeding duration, decreased time to deliver the placenta, analgesic effects, improved sleep cycles, increased neural development, improved social engagement/reciprocity in childhood
- Benefits of babywearing/carrying(without direct skin-to-skin) in the months postpartum: increased likelihood of secure attachment to caregivers, decreased crying, associated with increased responsiveness to infant hunger cues, breastfeeding duration, connection to decreased incidence of hip dysplasia
- Connection between responsive feeding and childhood obesityand development of infant hunger cues (potentially also related to the responsiveness that is facilitated by direct breastfeeding versus bottle feeding, another cool study on this here)
- Nurturely and link to donate if anyone wants to support more babywearing/breastfeeding research!