Life with Baby Podcast with Drs. Lela Rankin and Bill Sears

We have a very special episode this week! For a few years now, our team at Ergobaby has been working on The Babywearing Book and this month it is finally being birthed into the world. Our host, Brandi, and our Director of Commmunity and Content, Christina, got to chat with Drs. Lela Rankin and William Sears to discuss why babywearing is so important as we prepare for the release of the book into the world. 

What We Discuss

(0:00) Introduction

(3:55) Doctor Prescribed What?!

(5:04) Bringing the Book to Life

(7:02) Lela Rankin Introduction

(8:01) Child Development &

(11:22) Prioritize This for Your Peace of Mind

(12:02) Groundbreaking Research Highlights

(13:36) Why Attachment Matters

(17:28) How to Form a Secure Attachment

(22:18) Can Babywearing Foster Independence?

(26:50) THE Tip for Struggling Parents

(31:37) Dr. William Sears Introduction

(32:18) The Evolution of Babywearing

(36:50) What Does Babywearing Build?

(38:19) Studies Are Proving This

(38:47) Why Babywear?

(41:09) Get Your Copy of the Book Today!

Resources + Show Notes

Ergobaby | ergobaby.cominstagram.com/ergobabytiktok.com/@ergobabyofficial 

Dr. Lela Rankin | instagram.com/babywearingresearcher

Dr. William Sears | askdrsears.com

Transcript

(0:00) Introduction

[Brandi]

Hey everyone, welcome to the Life with Baby podcast. We have a very special episode this week. For a few years now, our team at Ergobaby has been working on the baby-wearing book.

And this month, it is finally being birthed into the world. My good friend Christina, head of content for Ergobaby, has been working since 2016 to bring this book to life. She recently sat down with the author, Dr. Bill Sears. Dr. Sears has been advising parents on how to raise healthier families for more than 50 years. She also got to chat with Dr. Lita Rankin, who has interdisciplinary training in psychology, family studies, and human development. I can’t wait for you to listen to this episode.

And I hope it gives you insight into the importance…necessity, and magic of baby-wearing. Enjoy.

I’m so excited that this week you get to hear from my good friend, Christina Soletti. Christina is the head of all content at Ergobaby and is one of the most passionate people I know about babywearing and all its benefits for families. She’s a trained babywearing educator and has a background in PR, reality TV, and filmmaking.

Christina believes in the power of storytelling and the importance of strong and meaningful relationships. She uses her passion to help more parents learn about the transformative power of babywearing because she truly believes it can change the world.

Welcome to the podcast.

[Christina]

Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

(1:40) The Babywearing Book

[Brandi]

Why write a book on babywearing?

[Christina]

You know, there is a lot of information out there about babywearing and yet it’s all, it’s also a practice that’s been around for thousands and thousands of years. And yet only 60% of people in the United States put it on their registry. They don’t necessarily see baby carriers as a must-have.

[Brandi]

Why do you think that is?

[Christina]

You know, I personally think that, you know, here we are in the States, there’s a lot of taking your baby and putting them in another container, whatever that may be, and pushing them around. Even our birth, even our birth culture, babies are born and they’re put in another container and rolled down the hallway. We’re getting much better about that in the United States, but that’s Western culture.

We’ve forgotten, we’ve forgotten that our babies are meant to be right here. And we’ve forgotten that sort of, you know, we’re mammals. Every other animal, every other mammal keeps their babies close.

And so I think that’s number one, why one piece, why, you know, in Western culture, at least why babywearing isn’t top of mind and isn’t considered a necessity. And I also think that because we don’t, you know, it takes a village, well, in Western culture, we don’t have that village.

So we’re not seeing our aunties and our moms and our grandmas babywearing. So we don’t, we don’t have that, you know, we don’t have that understanding of how important it is. And lastly, the other thing that I thought about or that was brought up to me is how baby carriers are positioned as gear, along with strollers and car seats. And so thinking about like, oh, well, I already have a stroller, so I don’t need a baby carrier, like that it’s only transportation.

[Brandi]

As opposed to bonding.

[Christina]

And I think- As opposed to bonding, as opposed to like getting the dishes done at home, as opposed to like soothing your child who’s crying. So it’s a tool for other things other than getting from point A to point B.

(3:55) Doctor Prescribed What?!

[Brandi]

So why partner with Dr. Sears?

[Christina]

So Dr. Sears, you know, as far as I’m concerned, is a force and a phenomenon. He, he’s probably one of the earliest, at least in Western culture. One of the earliest pediatricians to really advocate for babywearing.

He literally talks about prescribing babywearing to parents, which to me is amazing. Like, okay, your baby is colicky, I’m writing you a prescription to babywear for at least an hour a day. He also, you know, he’s been around for so long and he’s such a trusted source.

I mean, he’s got the breastfeeding book, the baby book, the nursing book. I’m sure whether you’ve read his books or not, if you’re a parent, you know who Dr. Sears is. And just being able to take that sort of thought leadership that he has with his passion for babywearing.

And he has a personal experience with it. I mean, he has multiple children that he’s worn and now he’s wearing his grandkids. And he’s just being able to marry that passion with, with the science was really powerful for me.

(5:04) Bringing the Book to Life

[Brandi]

What was it like bringing this book to life?

[Christina]

Bringing this book to life has been 100% labor of love. What we did is we did essentially a babywearing symposium and we brought experts literally from all over the world, experts on skin-to-skin experts on oxytocin experts on hip dysplasia. So these were all studies from different areas, you know, and they all kind of presented their pieces.

And then Dr. Sears took all of that science and all of that research and then was able to write his book. And then as more science and more data and more studies on babywearing came out, we were able to, you know, take that foundation of all of those experts in their field and then add in the babywearing. So being able to bring all those experts together to really talk about babywearing and why it’s so important was, was pretty special.

It was pretty special.

[Brandi]

I would assume so. Wow.

[Christina]

Yeah. It was amazing.

(7:02) Lela Rankin Introduction

[Brandi]

Dr. Lela Rankin is one of our go-to gals when it comes to babywearing research. She completed her doctoral and postdoctoral training in child development and parenting. Plus, she’s a certified babywearing educator.

Lela is a pioneer in the research on babywearing across diverse populations and has found many health benefits for parents and infants. I love that we get to hear the conversation she had with our very own Christina Selletti on why babywearing is so important.

[Christina]

So glad to have you here, Lela.

[Lela]

Well, thanks for having me. I’m so excited.

[Christina]

Of course. Just give us, give us the elevator pitch about who you are and what you do.

[Lela]

Well, first, I always like to say I’m a parent. That’s what I do.

I parent three children and for my paid work, I am a research professor at Arizona State University in the School of Social Work. And my background is in child development and I’ve been doing work around parenting and parenting-based interventions for over 15 years now.

(8:01) Child Development & Babywearing

[Christina]

Tell me a little bit about how you got into that work.

And then I remember you telling me a story about that work and then becoming a parent.

[Lela]

When I went to grad school, I was single, did not have any children. And I was really interested in child development in general. And I didn’t have that practical experience, which of course is very different once you have children of your own and putting together what’s really happening at home to what I’ve learned.

It turns out, you know, having a PhD in child development doesn’t necessarily tell you how to take care of a newborn baby. When I had my first son, I was shocked by the fact that I couldn’t put him down and go about the rest of my life like it had before having a baby.

And I had gotten a baby carrier. I actually bought it for myself because it was something that I thought you should get. I saw my friend had it from her baby shower and I put it on and he immediately stopped crying and my hands were suddenly free. And even just doing basic things like putting the dishes away or being able to write an email, because when I had my son, it was 2010 and so I didn’t have an iPhone.

So I actually had to sit in front of a computer and type. It was just so freeing. And I realized a lot of what I had been feeling in that early stages of motherhood of just feeling so stuck in a chair. At least it was a little bit better by having him in a carrier and I could move. Just that little bit of difference was a huge difference.

[Christina]

I remember when you told me that story initially being so profoundly struck that, you know, we joke that when we’re new moms, like, where’s the manual?

Well, you almost had the manual, right? You had done all this study about it, yet you still felt unprepared.

[Lela]

I think my study was really into, okay, what kind of reflexes do babies have?

When can they pick their head up? How are they eye-tracking? You know, these cognitive-based skills.

And I didn’t know where was, how often do you need to hold your baby? Nowhere. Or how much time can they spend alone on the floor?

You know, we talk about things like tummy time, but it doesn’t say there’s an upper limit of like, well, let’s just leave him down there for hours. And so I really had no baseline for how long I could just put him down.

[Christina]

Right.

[Lela]

And I remember when I had a breastfeeding support specialist call me and that’s, she’s like, how are things going? And I was like, I can’t put him down. And her response, I thought she was going to say, this is a problem.

And she said, well, babies need a lot of cuddle time. And I was like, I didn’t know. I didn’t know.

[Christina]

Where do you think that, because I had the same experience. Yeah. Where do you think that loss is?

[Lela]

I think because the way the world is, we’ve become increasingly disconnected from newborns. If you think about your day-to-day walking around the world, how often do you really see a newborn? And then when you do, maybe it’s out at the grocery store, it’s not in their home.

[Christina]

Right.

[Lela]

And it’s not really seeing what does it mean to take care of a newborn baby? How much, like, how much care does it take?

[Christina]

Right.

[Lela]

How much time do you really have to yourself? And when you’re in it, suddenly taking a shower seems like a huge accomplishment.

[Christina]

Insurmountable. Right, right.

[Lela]

Yeah. Or going to the bathroom and not having somebody cry for you.

[Christina]

Right.

(11:22) Prioritize This for Your Peace of Mind

[Christina]

So that leads me to the question and also the title of the book, Why Babywear?

[Lela]

Yeah, for your sanity.

[Christina]

Wait, louder for the people in the back.

Why Babywear?

[Lela]

For your sanity.

[Christina]

Yes.

[Lela]

You know, it’s, it’s funny because I do all this research to show how great babywearing is for your baby.

[Christina]

Yeah.

[Lela]

But honestly, just getting through that day-to-day for the mom.

[Christina]

Yeah.

[Lela]

You got to, you know, put the oxygen on yourself first before your infant.

[Christina]

Right.

[Lela]

It’s like.

[Christina]

You can’t pour from an empty cup.

[Lela]

It really is like you can’t, the best you can do for your kids is by what you can do for yourself.

[Christina]

Right.

(12:02) Groundbreaking Research Highlights

[Christina]

Well, so talk about the research and maybe walk us through kind of the highlights of what you’ve learned through the research.

[Lela]

So I have two big studies. One is with young moms and we did a randomized control trial, which means we selected moms randomly to receive either a carrier or a book set. And so they were told to read to their infant, which is an also it’s also an attachment-based intervention, except that it doesn’t involve that close physical touch.

And in another study, we had infants in the NICU that were born with opioid exposure in the prenatal period.

[Christina]

OK.

[Lela]

And those infants were randomly assigned to receive either an infant carrier or an infant seat, like a stationary seat that they could be placed in.

[Christina]

Ok. Like a bouncer type. Ok.

[Lela]

Yes, exactly. And so the purpose of having that design is that we’re able to compare these two conditions and how they’re different based on this one variable that’s different between them.

[Christina]

Right.

[Lela]

Versus when you look at research that just looks at moms that are already choosing to babywear, you don’t know if there’s other things about them that have selected babywearing.

[Christina]

Right.

[Lela]

That’s also associated with these outcomes that you’re seeing.

[Christina]

Ok, ok.

[Lela]

And so I wanted to see ultimately if these carriers could help create more secure infant-parent bonding.

[Christina]

OK.

[Lela]

As well as a variety of other potential developmental benefits as well to the infants and to the moms.

(13:36) Why Attachment Matters

[Christina]

Which we’ll get into because I want to hear more about it. But what I want to back up and ask is what is attachment and why is it important? Why should a parent care about attachment?

[Lela]

That’s a really good question. And I don’t know if anyone’s ever asked me that because I do think we get we throw around and you see it a lot, this concept of attachment. Infants are born with this drive to find someone that they can trust.

And the reason why is they’re completely helpless.

[Christina]

Right.

[Lela]

So we all can understand you need food for survival. You need safety from predators. You need to have a place where you can go to sleep.

But you can only get that from an adult.

[Christina]

Right.

[Christina]

You’re completely dependent.

[Lela]

You’re completely dependent.

[Christina]

Yeah. What is attachment? First of all.

[Lela]

So attachment is an innate drive to form a trust relationship with an adult that is potentially as strong or stronger than the need for food and security.

[Christina]

Wait, say that again. The need the infant has for attachment is stronger than the need for food.

[Lela]

Yes.

[Christina]

Wow.

[Lela]

And there are early experiments which are unethical by today’s standards.

But those studies have shown that infants will choose that comfort, security over food.

[Christina]

I have like goosebumps.

[Lela]

Yes.

[Christina]

That’s amazing. Yes. Okay.

Okay. So this is an attachment drive that’s in infants.

[Lela]

Yes.

[Christina]

And why is it important?

[Lela]

So in infants, they’re neurologically setting all those patterns for understanding the world.

[Christina]

Right.

[Lela]

And so that first relationship that they have with an adult, at least one adult, maybe more, is putting down a map for what their expectations are for all other relationships. But ultimately, we want children to grow into adults, that they’re able to develop these coping strategies for handling that stressful situation, and also learn how to have trusting relationships with other adults. And now that doesn’t mean you trust everybody because you shouldn’t.

[Christina]

Right.

[Lela]

Right. You need to be able to discern who is a trusting person, that I can engage in a romantic relationship, a friendship, parent relationship, and that I can discern if this person is trustworthy, and then I can give them my trust.

[Christina]

So when is your attachment style set? And is it set for life?

[Lela]

There is a biological window where, ideally, you form that attachment period in that first year to two. So that zero to two is when you’re the most open and also prime to map on what those attachment relationships are like.

[Christina]

Essentially, then, an attachment style is formed between zero and two.

And it’s important because it’s almost your map for relationships as you go through life. So this is a really important time.

[Lela]

Yes.

There’s a researcher, he called it an internal working model for relationships. And I like that term because it is a map, and it’s a working model. It’s pretty set, but you can change it with a lot of work.

I always tell that to people, too.

[Christina]

Right.

[Lela]

As an adult, people can change their attachment styles.

But it does take work, like in therapy, to really challenge those because it’s neurologically driven. And so when something happens to you, those neural networks are strong, and you’ll have a response. You have to kind of fight that response to break those paths.

So it can be changed. I always like to think everything can be changed. But depending how severe those attachments are, some of them are very rigid.

[Christina]

Which is why, then, that attachment style or these practices to help your child form a secure attachment early on are so important.

[Lela]

Yes.

[Christina]

Okay.

(17:28) How to Form a Secure Attachment

[Christina]

Can you just talk about the types of attachment style really quickly before we talk about what parents can do to form a secure attachment?

[Lela]

So my sort of cheat sheet version of it is a secure attachment is I trust myself, and I trust other people.

[Christina]

Ok.

[Lela]

An avoidant attachment is usually I trust myself, but I don’t trust others. Okay. And an anxious attachment style is more I trust others, but I don’t trust myself.

[Christina]

Hmm.

[Lela]

So that’s sort of like an easy cheat sheet version of it.

[Christina]

Now that we’ve established the attachment styles, talk to me a little bit about your study with babywearing and attachment, and then what are some other things that parents can do to help form a secure attachment?

[Lela]

So in my study with the young moms, I found that the mothers that were in the intervention condition that had received the baby carrier, they were much more likely to have secure attachment styles.

In fact, their rates of secure attachment were similar to as if they were older mothers that have a higher likelihood of having a secure attachment.

[Christina]

What are some of the babywearing benefits that you found in your research?

[Lela]

So I’m in the middle of trying to figure out right now how, like getting down to how many hours a week or how many minutes a week that somebody needs to use the carrier in order to see a variety of benefits. So that first study that I talked about with young moms, I followed them to their babies were three and a half to four years old.

[Christina]

Oh, wow.

[Lela]

Almost every measure that I’ve included on developmental milestones, gross motor skills, fine motor skills, communication, problem-solving skills, empathy, those are all improved in my babywearing condition.

[Christina]

OK, say that again. All of those developmental milestones that you just listed were improved by the babywearing group, the group that baby wore.

[Lela]

Yeah, when those kids are three and a half to four years old.

[Christina]

Amazing.

[Lela]

From something they did when they were, you know, zero to six months.

I told them to babywear for one hour a day.

[Christina]

Wow.

[Lela]

And so what we’re trying to identify is specific thresholds.

So do they need to wear an hour a day or maybe just a half hour in a week?

That’s what my hope is, is to kind of look and see how much to get that benefit.

[Christina]

Right.

[Lela]

But to go back to your question, a lot of those outcomes that I looked at with kids, all of them were significantly higher in the kids that were in the intervention group compared to the control group.

[Christina]

So essentially, to sum it up, babywearing will positively affect baby’s developmental milestones, everything from motor skills to language development to…

[Lela]

Problem-solving skills. And then I have three different measures of empathy. Those are all significant. Yeah.

[Christina]

I mean, that seems, I don’t know, kind of mind blowing to me.

I mean, yes, I’m in the babywearing field, but that seems incredibly significant.

[Lela]

It’s really, it is because I circle back to these are not moms that selected to babywear on their own. They’re randomly assigned to use this carrier.

[Christina]

Right.

[Lela]

And compared to ones that were randomly assigned to not from the same community, participated in the same prenatal classes, same education, same background.

[Christina]

That’s amazing.

[Lela]

So it’s pretty, it’s pretty amazing. And then from the maternal side, I looked at rates of postpartum depression, anxiety, and stress.

[Christina]

Okay.

[Lela]

So we’re seeing some significance in there as well.

[Christina]

Okay. Wasn’t there something about heart rate?

[Lela]

Oh yeah. So in my study with the infants in the hospital, we’ve been looking at their physiological response to babywearing.

[Christina]

Okay.

[Lela]

And so we see that infants that are worn, especially by parents, so that babywearing induces a calming response so that the heart rate drops. What was really surprising in that research was that I found it was also calming for adults. And I was surprised to find the effect because when I was measuring their heart rate before putting the baby in the carrier, the adult was seated in a chair.

And then when they baby wore, of course, they got up and started walking around the hospital. So I expected their heart rate to come up because you’re seating relaxed and then you stand up and walk.

[Christina]

Right.

[Lela]

But the effect of the carrier was so strong that it was still lowering their heart rate, even though they were walking.

[Christina]

That’s amazing. So babywearing lower the heart rate of both the caregiver and the baby.

[Lela]

Yes.

[Christina]

That’s amazing.

[Lela]

And I have a student, she was also looking at a subset of this data and she was looking at it from the correlation between infants and their parents. And she found that they’re highly correlated specifically during the babywearing procedure compared to before and after.

So showing some synchrony and auto-regulation between the caregiver and infant.

(22:18) Can Babywearing Foster Independence?

[Christina]

So I wanted to ask you, why do you think a book about babywearing is important?

[Lela]

We’ve lost a lot of that knowledge that gets passed down. And then I also think because of ideas that we’ve had about parenting, especially in the last 100 years, I’d say if we take a real look back, have been kind of extreme, all in the space of modernizing parenting, right?

Like, so we went through periods where people felt, oh, you have to feed them on a certain schedule and a certain nap schedule, and then you wake them up because that’s the way that they’re going to learn how to do this routine. So we’ve kind of implemented a lot of different parenting strategies that were not really grounded in research and in good developmental science.

So now people are a little lost on what to do. And sometimes it’s hard because people might read something in a book and be like, this is what’s good for my baby. And older generations may feel like, oh, well, if you put them in the baby carrier, they’re never going to walk.

If you carry them too much, they’re going to be too coddled.

[Christina]

They’re going to be spoiled.

[Lela]

Where it’s the opposite, right?

From a developmental perspective, we know the more that you love, the more that you provide that support, children will naturally turn away from it and become independent in adolescence. They’re not going to want to have their parent there if they have a secure attachment.

[Christina]

Right.

Actually, that’s what I was going to ask you is, you know, I hear sometimes, you know, why don’t you babywear? Oh, well, they’re going to be dependent on me for the rest of my life or the rest of their life. When it sounds like everything you’re saying, it’s the opposite.

The closer we keep them when they’re young, the more independent they’ll be. I mean, I’m oversimplifying.

[Lela]

No, absolutely.

[Christina]

Can you talk about that?

[Lela]

That’s what a secure attachment is.

[Christina]

Okay.

[Lela]

Because you have become independent so you can selectively choose relationships that you want to get in. You don’t need to have them. It’s something that provides you extra enjoyment.

[Christina]

Right.

[Lela]

But you’ve also learned how to self-soothe on your own.

[Christina]

Right, right.

[Lela]

Right. It’s the insecure attachments that have become dependent in a way. Because they need someone else or it’s dependent if you think about avoiding it because they cannot trust anyone else.

[Christina]

Right.

[Lela]

They, they make their lives harder. Right.

[Christina]

Right.

[Lela]

In a lot of ways.

And they’re not able to get to that state of, well, enjoyment or like the calmness because they don’t have that.

[Christina]

Rest and digest that, that state of rest and digest where you’re able to come act from a calm place.

[Lela]

Like the parasympathetic nervous system. Yeah.

Right. Because when you’re in the sympathetic nervous system, you’re activated.

[Christina]

Right.

[Lela]

And that’s not a place where you can form connection right when you’re in that hypervigilant state.

[Christina]

The irony of…

[Lela]

The irony.

[Christina]

If we want an independent child, we actually need to keep them close early on.

[Lela]

When parents, like, if you think about it from being cut off, like, okay, you’re, you’re too old for this.

Like you shouldn’t, like, don’t hug me or whatever. They’re learning that I, I can’t, I can’t trust other people. I have to trust myself. Right. Versus.

[Christina]

Which is avoidant.

[Lela]

Yes, it is.

[Christina]

Okay, see, I’m learning.

[Lela]

Um when you feel like you have so much love and you’re like, look, I can do this on my own, but I know that if I’m struggling, I can go back. Right.

[Christina]

Right. Right.

[Lela]

So in adolescence, there’s this back and forth. It’s like, I’m doing some things on my own, but I need my parent for this. I’m doing it on my own.

And eventually, they will be able to do things on their own because they have that confidence.

[Christina]

Right.

[Lela]

That comes with a secure attachment.

[Christina]

Well, we talked about this before we started recording, you know, I have a 13-year-old daughter and she’s pushing away from me, you know, and I baby wore her a lot. I mean, you know, I, I was a babywearer. I remember she was having some big feelings and I was talking to my therapist about it and she said that she has a secure attachment because she feels safe with you. That’s why she feels like she can do those things.

[Lela]

Yeah.

[Christina]

So as our kids grow, we can see the effects of these practices.

[Lela]

I say that when you do more babywearing, I do think it actually, in some ways it is harder in the short term because you’re committing to being present to this child.

[Christina]

Mmm. Right.

[Lela]

But in the long term, it has a lot.

[Christina]

You’re getting the benefits.

[Lela]

You’re getting the benefits. It’s easier in the short term to be like, you have to sort it out on your own.

You’re just going to have to cry or you’re just, you know, going to figure it out. That’s easier.

[Christina]

Right.

[Lela]

But there’s consequences because of that.

[Christina]

Right. That you’re going to have to deal with when they’re 13, 14, 15.

[Lela]

Or lifelong.

[Christina]

Lifelong. Right.

[Lela]

Yeah.

[Christina]

Right.

(26:50) THE Tip for Struggling Parents

[Christina]

What is one tip you would give to a new parent who’s struggling out there? The parent who’s, it’s midnight, they’re listening to us. They’re up nursing, getting the oxytocin because it’s skin to skin. What’s the one tip you would give a new parent?

[Lela]

Just if you’re not getting any sleep, you’re doing it right. You know. I think a lot of times people have this expectation of whatever, lots of expectations. And when it doesn’t match that, you feel terrible.

[Christina]

Right.

[Lela]

And you feel like you’re not doing a good job. But it’s almost like, you know, in all my years of doing parenting, if you feel like you’re not doing a good job, you’re doing a good job.

[Christina]

I love that. That’s what I was going to ask you, you were talking about different parenting philosophies and all these different. When ultimately, I mean, I’m going to go out on a limb here.

I think that no matter what someone’s parenting philosophy is, ultimately, simply all they want to do is be a good parent.

[Lela]

Yeah.

[Christina]

Whatever that looks like.

To me, keeping it simple, that idea of keeping it simple and building confidence, like, oh…

[Lela]

Yes.

[Christina]

I can just wear my baby and I’m a good parent.

[Lela]

I’ve worked with so many different mothers.

[Christina]

Yeah.

[Lela]

And so many people that have been really stigmatized for a lot of different things. And I can tell you, I feel very confident saying all mothers want the best for their children. They may not have all the resources to be able to do what they want to do, but they all want that.

[Christina]

Right.

[Lela]

And so it’s not helpful to come at it from a judgmental perspective. What we can do to offer support is going to be the best for that baby, for that mom.

[Christina]

Right. I remember. I don’t think you were there because then I probably would have met you then.

There was a conference that Darcia Narvaez from Notre Dame put on back in like 2012.

And Gabor Maté was talking and he was like, all of the, we’re all researchers up here. We all have books, you know, but when a parent asks me for advice, I tell them to look in the mirror. And that struck me because it, it just felt like, oh, it’s there.

Like it’s, it’s there. I just kind of need to access it. For me, babywearing kind of brings it, that idea of, I can be a good mom by doing something so simple.

[Lela]

That’s interesting advice because what the one thing I do say when I get the baby, the mom gets the baby in the carrier, once the baby’s in there, I always say, now look at your baby. You did that. It’s not.

[Christina]

I have goosebumps.

[Lela]

The baby has now gotten to the spot where it wants to be. It wants to be right there.

[Christina]

Right.

[Lela]

That’s all it wants.

[Christina]

Right, right.

[Lela]

And you provided it. You don’t have to be anything else. You just have to show up.

And that’s something that’s really struck me too. When you, when you look across development, right, not just in infancy, but through those harder teenager years, you don’t have to say the right thing. You don’t have to do the right thing.

You just need to show up and keep showing up. You don’t have to say anything. Just be there.

[Christina]

I love that because what a simple, amazing piece of advice. You just have to be there and have your baby right here, right here on your chest.

Well, thank you so much. I feel like I could talk to you for hours.

[Lela]

Yes. Same.

[Christina]

And hours because I love this topic and we’re definitely going to have to have you come back.

[Lela]

I would love to, yeah.

[Christina]

Especially when your next study about oxytocin comes out.

[Lela]

Yeah, I’m really excited.

[Christina]

Well, thank you so much.

[Lela]

Thank you.

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(31:37) Dr. William Sears Introduction

[Brandi]

Dr. William Sears is a wealth of knowledge that we’re so honored to have on the podcast this week. He has been advising parents on how to raise healthier families for over 50 years and was even featured in Time Magazine for his contributions to family health. Together with his wife, Martha, they have written more than 45 books on parenting, nutrition, and healthy aging, their latest of which includes Why Babywear.

Our very own Christina Soletti sat down with him to discuss or rather confirm why babywearing is so important.

[Christina]

So good to see you, Dr. Bill.

[Dr. Bill]

Thank you, Christina. You too.

[Christina]

Thank you so much for taking the time to talk with us.

Dr. Bill]

Yeah, it’s my favorite subject.

[Christina]

I know.

[Dr. Bill]

Babywearing.

[Christina]

Babywearing. Me too. We have that in common. We both love babywearing.

(32:18) The Evolution of Babywearing

[Christina]

So you have been a pediatrician and observing parents and babies for decades.

[Dr. Bill]

Yeah.

[Christina]

And what have you noticed about babywearing and how it’s changed and or improved over the years?

[Dr. Bill]

Well, it changed our family life and I think it’s going to change the world for better. And now my journey, my adventures with babywearing began about 40 years ago. Martha and I were invited speakers over to an international parenting conference in Europe and we’re up there speaking on the stage and there were a lot of moms there from Africa and they had their native dress on, you know, the very colorful native dress.

And part of the native dress they would wrap their babies in. And I’d be up there talking and I’m looking and I’m looking. Wow. That’s great. So after the talk, I went up and asked all the moms, I said, you know, why do you wear your babies like this? I just wear your baby as came as a natural thing.

Why do you wear your babies like this?

[Christina]

Yeah.

[Dr. Bill]

They said, it does good things for mommy.

And good things for baby. It makes life easier for mother. It does good things for babies.

Like. And I thought, wow, that makes sense. Then 1985, the year that changed our lives here, the birth of baby number six.

[Christina]

Okay.

[Dr. Bill]

Matthew. Now we thought Matthew may be our last, but we kept, we had two more.

So we really wanted to be with him a lot.

[Christina]

Right.

[Dr. Bill]

So we wore him and Martha would make some homemade carriers and all.

And then I said, Martha, you know, what have you noticed? And every day she would say, the more I wear him, the more content he is and the better I feel. Bingo.

A content baby and a happy mom. That’s what we want.

[Christina]

Exactly.

[Dr. Bill]

So I said, okay, I want to be a shareholder. I want to hold him a lot too. I want to wear him.

So I’ll never forget, Christina. One day I would come home from the medical office, say around five o’clock, I would open the door and Matthew would hear the door open and I would say, go. And nine-month-old Matthew would crawl over to the door.

[Christina]

Amazing.

[Dr. Bill]

Look up at the baby carrier because in his little mind, daddy coming home, wearing me in the carrier, and we’re going to go out and have fun. Let’s see. And so babywearing makes fathering more fun.

[Christina]

Absolutely.

[Dr. Bill]

And I thought, well, gosh, this is great because for fathering, you know, I can’t breastfeed, but I can nurse because nursing means comforting too. And I thought one day I’m wearing Matthew.

Well, what can I do as a unique father comforting while I’m wearing him?

[Christina]

Right.

[Dr. Bill]

Ah, the neck nestle.

So I’d put them up here. So with babywearing the higher, the better.

[Christina]

Exactly.

[Dr. Bill]

And we call it kissable.

[Christina]

Yep.

[Dr. Bill]

Kissable and visible.

[Christina]

Yup.

[Dr. Bill]

Yeah and so and so it was the warmth, the neck nestle. I would place Matthew’s little head, darling, a little head in my neck.

And baby’s here with the vibration of their skull, of their skull bones, too, in addition to their ears.

[Christina]

Right. Right.

[Dr. Bill]

And I would walk along in the rhythm of our walk.

And sometimes I would sing to him, you know, go to sleep, go to sleep, go to sleep, my little baby. And the vibration brought him right to sleep. And I said, what else is going on?

And it’s the motion.

[Christina]

Absolutely.

[Dr. Bill]

With babywearing, you have motions in three ways, back and forth, up and down, side to side.

Bingo. That’s just like baby head in the womb. Exactly.

So it reminds baby of the womb, nine months inside, nine months outside.

[Christina]

Right. I love that.

(36:50) What Does Babywearing Build?

[Christina]

And you mentioned, you know, you were introduced to babywearing from these women from Africa and, you know, back then in the Western culture, babywearing wasn’t as accepted or as mainstream. What have you noticed in your career of how it’s been incorporated more into kind of the Western parenting?

[Dr. Bill]

Yes. Yes. I think it’s because mothers got smarter. What’s happened to the whole field of birthing, for example.

Mothers have taken over, hey, my baby, my birth.

[Christina]

Right, right.

[Dr. Bill]

And so babywearing was a natural fit.

[Christina]

Right.

[Dr. Bill]

And I remember my office, I used my medical office, kind of a laboratory.

[Christina]

Right.

What worked.

[Christina]

Right.

[Dr. Bill]

And I, mothers would come and say, a baby seems so content.

Oh, and Dr. Bill, it feels right to me.

[Christina]

Right.

[Dr. Bill]

I feel so much better when I’m wearing my baby.

And I thought, ah, why? See, a pediatrician was thinking, why? What’s going on in there?

[Christina]

Right.

[Dr. Bill]

What is going on in the mind of a baby and the body of a baby when you wear the baby?

[Christina]

Right.

[Dr. Bill]

The brain. They’re smarter.

[Christina]

Yeah.

[Dr. Bill]

Babywearing builds brighter brains.

[Christina]

Absolutely.

(38:19) Studies Are Proving This

[Christina]

You know, we kind of talked about how there are things that we’ve known and the studies are just proving them.

Can you talk a little bit about that and the research?

[Dr. Bill]

And what you just said, studies are proving what mothers have known for centuries.

[Christina]

Right.

[Dr. Bill]

And one of the compliments I get about our books and we’re going to get about the babywearing book is, Dr. Bill, your books validate my mother’s intuition.

[Christina]

Right.

(38:47) Why Babywear?

[Christina]

So what would be a piece of advice that you could give a parent to take away about why they would want to babywear?

[Dr. Bill]

Well, when in doubt about what to do, ask yourself the question. Get behind the eyes of your baby and ask yourself, if I were my baby, how would I want my mother, my father, my caregivers to act? What would I want them to do for me?

[Christina]

Right.

[Dr. Bill]

And the answer? Wear me.

[Dr. Bill]

Right.

[Dr. Bill]

Wear me as much as you can.

[Christina]

Right. They want to be close.

[Dr. Bill]

Wear me close.

[Christina]

Yeah.

[Dr. Bill]

Wear me out into the world.

[Christina]

Yeah.

[Dr. Bill]

Teach me. Feel me.

[Christina]

Yeah.

[Dr. Bill]

See me. Wear me.

[Christina]

And the last thing I’ll ask is, I remember when you and I first talked, and it stayed with me, this is probably 10 years ago, you said to me, I truly believe that babywearing can change the world.

[Dr. Bill]

Yes.

[Christina]

That’s a bold statement.

[Dr. Bill]

Yes.

[Christina]

Can you tell me a little bit more about that?

[Dr. Bill]

And Christina, I still believe.

[Christina]

Yeah.

[Dr. Bill]

And actually, even more so nowadays.

[Christina]

Yeah.

[Dr. Bill]

Because if you were to ask me, what is one word that it instills, babywearing instills into babies? Empathy.

Empathy. The ability to care for someone else. And right now, our world needs more empathetic people.

[Christina]

Absolutely. Absolutely.

[Dr. Bill]

Yeah.

[Christina]

And I guess, you know, we decided on the title of the book, Why Babywear. If you could answer that question in just a snippet, why babywear, Dr. Sears? If a mom says to me, why should I babywear?

Why babywear? What would you say to her?

[Dr. Bill]

What I would say is what I learned 45 years ago from the babywearing mothers.

[Christina]

Yeah.

[Dr. Bill]

It makes life easier for the mother. It does good things for the baby.

[Christina]

Yeah. Simple.

[Dr. Bill]

Simple.

[Christina]

I love it. Well, thank you so much.

[Dr. Bill]

Thank you, Christina.

[Christina]

Really appreciate it.

[Dr. Bill]

Yeah.

(41:09) Get Your Copy of the Book Today!

[Ad]

Does babywearing actually make parenting easier? Yes. Yes, it does. That’s why we collaborated with parenting experts, Dr. Bill and Martha Sears to write, Why Babywear?: Benefits for You and Your Baby. A comprehensive guide that’s been over a decade in the making.

Look, we didn’t invent babywearing. It’s an ancient solution that has benefits for modern parents, and we believe it can change the world. So we wrote this book to share how babywearing can help foster close and loving parent-child relationships and why it has so many other physical, mental, and emotional benefits.

It will empower and encourage you with really simple and practical tools to make your lives with baby easier. Get your copy of the book on Amazon or Ergobaby.com.

[Brandi]

Ergobaby is dedicated to building a global community of confident parents. The Life of Baby podcast is just one of the many ways we hope to support parents through all the joys and jobs of parenting.

This podcast was produced by Tiffany Toby, edited by Angel Hunter and Hannah Speckart, written by Vittoria Allen, sound design and theme song by John Jackson, graphics designed by Noah Friedenberg, and our executive producers are Christina Soletti and Kalani Robinson. I’m your host, Brandi Sellerz-Jackson.

Vittoria Allen

Vittoria is a writer based in San Diego. A lover of good food, slow living, and a good novel, she shares her life with her husband and two daughters trying to squeeze out the beauty in every moment.

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