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Does carrying your baby in a sling influence the time at which they learn to walk?

I don’t want to spoil anything here – but I can already tell you before I’ve even started my post “Learning to wear running”: No!

Why this rumor is so persistent, which factors are important for your baby to learn to walk and why carrying your baby in a sling or baby carrier even supports your baby in this process, I will now tell you in the article “Learning to walk while carrying”.

Learning to carry while walking no carrying, no cuddling, no pampering?

“Back in the day” – and it wasn’t that long ago – it was generally thought that you shouldn’t carry your baby too much. After all, you don’t want to bring in a tyrant. That’s why people came up with all sorts of ideas about why it would be bad to carry your baby and what to avoid as much as possible so that the baby doesn’t dance around on your nose. You can find out all about this in my article “Learning to wear walking”.

Learn to walk Carry: keep body contact to a minimum!

Mothers were told to deliberately ignore their babies’ needs – so newborns were simply left to cry alone in a separate room in the evening, breastfed only every 4 hours (if they were breastfed at all) and physical contact was to be kept to a minimum. So no carrying, no cuddling, just no bonding with the child. After all, you can’t spoil your child.

Why am I going into so much detail at this point in my article “Learning to wear running”? Carrying – i.e. physical contact – is a basic need of every single person. For every newborn, baby, toddler, schoolchild, adolescent and adult. Because of these methods, which – especially in our older generation – still persist in our society as “tried and tested” and “right”, we often hear sentences like: “It’s obvious that your child won’t walk if you carry it all the time” or “It’s logical that your child can’t fall asleep without your breast if you don’t just let it cry so that it sees that not everyone is always dancing to its nose”.

There have been many studies – for example one that examined the generation of war children between 2009 and 2013. The study was carried out in Germany by Psychologist Ilka Quindeau and her colleagues from the Frankfurt University of Applied Sciences” on behalf of the Federal Ministry of Education and Research. The actual content would have been the investigation of the effects of the bombing raids and escape. However, the first interviews already showed that the family came up much more often, which is why the study was expanded.

It was concluded that people showed a pattern of strikingly strong loyalty to their parents. No conflicts were addressed at all in the descriptions – this is a sign of a relationship disorder. Similarly, the Austrian-British psychoanalyst Anna Freud discovered as early as 1949 that those children who had a good bond with their parents experienced the war as “less” bad than those who had no or a poor bond with their parents.

I would like to continue my article “Learning to walk and carry” with this fact: Not only from our family or some acquaintances – no, even pediatricians, midwives and other professional staff – who should actually know better based on today’s scientific findings – no, even these do not stop at advising mothers to let their baby cry alone, to breastfeed only every 4 hours and not to carry it, because otherwise the child will never become independent at all and out of principle it will become a little tyrant. Attachment disorders and the inability to enter into a relationship with other people result from these methods.

Nature intended a newborn baby to be carried. As soon as you pick your baby up, it pulls its legs up and waits for you to sit it on your hip – that’s what it’s made for. The baby can sit on your hip bump and the “squat-spread position” allows it to “wedge itself in”.

Learning to walk carrying carrying is completely natural

So why should something that is naturally intended be bad for your baby? Or motor development? We now know that carrying is natural. That it helps your baby to become more aware of itself and its body boundaries. A baby that is carried a lot gets everything it needs: physical closeness, affection, it is integrated into family life and actively involved – at eye level. Its sense of balance is trained, as it must constantly follow and compensate for the movements of the person carrying it. This also stimulates the muscles!

The other day I was told by my own mother (I still can’t believe it, by the way): “It’s obvious that your baby can’t crawl or sit up at 11 months if he’s in the carrier ALL THE TIME. Other babies also play on the floor sometimes” – REALLY? As if my child were living in it. Wait – or does it? I’ll just think about when my baby is NOT in the carrier or sling: when it’s being changed, when it’s eating from the family table. When we sit on the floor with our siblings and play. When we’re visiting grandma and grandpa, because it’s totally cool to crawl under the hanging shelves in the living room and chase after the dog.

My baby is not in the carrier when it clearly shows that it doesn’t want to be. And that happens very often at 11 months! I would just say, thumb times pi, that my baby is (now) in the sling for about 2 hours a day. What does it do for the other 10 hours when it is awake during the day? That’s right: it also plays on the floor sometimes. Or in bed. Or sits in the baby carriage – which, by the way, it has only recently discovered for itself.

I also don’t want to withhold this from you in the article “Learning to walk and carry”: Our baby was infected with a virus during pregnancy, which I “passed on”. Even then we were told that we MAY need physiotherapeutic support. And this is exactly what has now happened. But it’s clear, no. Carrying is (once again) to blame.

You can read more about this in my article “Learning to walk and carry”: But what factors are important for your baby to develop motor skills? What does it need to be able to turn, crawl, sit up and eventually walk?

First of all: your baby starts to move in the womb. At the latest when a mom in the 38th week of pregnancy no longer knows how to sit because the baby is spreading in all directions and trying to kick her ribs out of the way, you know that.

But motor development is not just about turning, crawling and walking. Your baby must learn to open its eyes to see and move its mouth, otherwise it will not be able to eat, laugh or speak. Social interaction is therefore also extremely important for motor development: finger games, singing songs and interacting together encourage your baby to develop physically and mentally.

Learning to walk Carrying: Motor development

Unlike the innate reflexes that ensure the newborn’s survival, such as the search, sucking and swallowing reflexes, which are important for feeding, there are a few other reflexes that accompany your baby’s motor development during the first two years of life: the grasping, crying, clasping and neck reflexes. The pediatrician will also examine your baby’s motor development as part of the mother-child check-up. In this way, it can be determined whether there is a possible neurological disorder or a disease of the nervous system, which are usually the cause of a later start to crawling, sitting, walking, etc.

A low birth weight – for example as a result of a premature birth, cerebral seizures or brain damage, psychological problems during pregnancy – for example because it was unwanted or because it was a psychological burden for the pregnant woman – are factors that can affect your baby’s motor development.

Gender, siblings, the type of birth – i.e. spontaneous or caesarean section, but also social status have no influence on how quickly a child reaches a “milestone”. Much more important than these so-called milestones are actually the “boundary stones”. They indicate the age up to which the majority of “healthy” children acquire a certain ability.

The following questions regarding fine motor skills, gross motor skills etc. now continue the path in my article “Learning to walk while carrying”:

But how can you encourage your baby’s gross and fine motor skills now? How can you motivate your baby to move? For gross motor skills – i.e. body motor skills and locomotion – it is important that your baby has space and room to move and play. It is also important that balance is well developed (which in turn is stimulated, encouraged and trained when carrying). Keep your baby barefoot – even in winter. With the right clothes, your baby won’t get cold – it’s best to check the body temperature at the back of the neck. If it is comfortably warm there, your baby is not cold, even if their feet are. Walking barefoot promotes balance and helps your baby to stand securely.

Normally, it’s enough if your baby can move around freely in a room: are there things to pull up or crawl over and does he or she have the opportunity to explore everything? Great – then you’ve done everything right! If your child is really conspicuous, you are in good hands with a pediatric physiotherapist. He will show you specific exercises to encourage your baby.

I will now continue with these tips in my article “Learning to wear walking”:

Simple hopscotch games or baby swimming, as well as baby massage, can also help your baby’s motor development. Fine motor skills – i.e. everything that happens with “small” movements with the hands and feet – can be encouraged with finger games, motor skills toys such as an O-ball or motor skills cube, stacking towers and pegging games.

Learning to walk and carry: baby walkers are superfluous

Door hops, walkers and so-called baby walkers are absolutely superfluous and even dangerous! Not only do they damage the entire musculoskeletal system, your baby can fall down stairs, tip upside down in the door hopper, etc. Experts even agree that the use of such devices permanently damages and inhibits children’s motor skills and the development of their entire musculoskeletal system.

As you can see, a baby’s motor skills are such a complex process involving many factors. You can promote and positively influence the processes to a certain extent. Towards the end of the article “Learning to walk and carry” I would like to briefly tell you how it was with our middle daughter: she was also carried just as “much” as her little brother is now – and she walked safely and freely a week before her first birthday.

To conclude the article “Learning to walk and carry”, I would like to give you the following quote:

“You can’t teach a person anything, you can only help them

to discover it in himself.”

Galileo Galilei

So help your baby to discover themselves and everything in and about themselves – with love, joy and the closeness and physical contact that your baby needs ♥ I hope I was able to convey all of this well in my blog post “Learning to walk and carry”!

The blog post “Learning to wear running” is written by Tatjana Kirchweger from LIEBEVOLL GEBUNDEN


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