Hug me, Mom: Stroller or baby carrier?

A stroller or a baby carrier? The answer to this question is changing. “In 2004, there were barely any carriers,” said Bianca Fehn, an owner of Metro Minis. “You had to find these work-at-home moms who made them and go on a waiting list for weeks or even months to get a carrier.” However, in 2009 at the ABC Kids Expo in Las Vegas, there were at least 30 companies promoting designer baby carriers, many of them created within the last five years. And between 2006 and 2008, overall sales of industry-certified carriers rose.

While most people using baby carriers extol the convenience of having their hands free, more and more people see it as an integral part of their parenting philosophy, which holds that babies should be worn on the body to foster a strong attachment to their parents. In other words, baby carriers offer more physical contacts between infants and their parents which were considered as crucial to develop secure attachment relationship according to attachment theory.

Bowlby’s attachment theory (Bowlby, 1969) places central importance on close proximity between mother and infant. Attachment theory suggests that infants’ instinctive behaviors such as crying and smiling are aimed to promote the proximity to and physical contact with the caregiver. Through the exercising of these behaviors and the proximity thus achieved, infants gradually develop an attachment to their caregivers. The manner in which the caregiver responds to the infants’ seeking behaviors determines the nature of the attachment relationship formed. More specially, the mothers who respond appropriately, promptly and consistently to infants’ needs, and hold their infants for relatively long periods and are tender and affectionate during the holding are more likely to develop secure relationships with their babies. Additionally, Anisfeld et al’s (1990) study indicated a causal relation between physical contact, achieved through carrying an infant in a soft baby carrier, and security of attachment between mother and infant.

However, recent studies on infant attachment suggested the ways in which attachment patterns are formed are more complicated. For example, maternal sensitivity, which contributes to the quality of infant exploration by providing the infant with a secure base from which to explore, has already been established as an important and reliable predictor of secure attachment. Whipple, Bernier and Mageau’s (2010) further demonstrated that besides maternal sensitivity, mothers’ autonomy-support behaviors which directly aimed at encouraging and supporting the child while he or she explores also provide contribution to infants’ secure attachment.

Strollers out, mom and dad in

Elizabeth Anisfeld, Virginia Casper, Molly Nozyce, Nicholas Cunningham. (1990). Does Infant Carrying Promote Attachment? An Experimental Study of the Effects of Increased Physical Contact on the    Developmen of Attachment. Child Development, 61, 1617-1627.

Natasha Whipple, Annie Bernier, Geneviève A. Mageau. (2010). Broadening the Study of Infant Security of Attachment: Maternal Autonomy-support in the Context of Infant Exploration. Social Development, Early View.

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5 responses to “Hug me, Mom: Stroller or baby carrier?

  1. I believe that carriers can be beneficial as they take up less space and allows you to bond with your child on your journey but let’s face it, after awhile babies get heavy! Just being pregnant and trying to walk was a challenge let alone carrying twenty five pounds of love around. Not only does a stroller create some separation from the parents but a little bit of Independence to the child. They can see they they can have their own space and view of the world without mom or dad in their peripherals.

    There was just a study done that children are relaxed by just the sounds of our voices, so even if they cannot see us while they are sitting in their strollers just the sounds of our voices will comfort them and let them know we are near.

    I’m not saying that baby carriers are pointless and un-useful. Just that if I had to choose a primary mode of transport a stroller would win hands (or baby) down.

    Good topic!

  2. I was on Yahoo and found your blog. Read a few of your other posts. Good work. I am looking forward to reading more from you in the future.

    Benny Blitzblau

  3. I think both strollers and carriers have their place, and the right choice can realy vary based on the situation, the mom, and the kid. My son, for example, can only tolerate the carrier for a few minutes, but will stay in the stoller for hours if I let him. However, there are certain situations when the carrier certainly is convenient!

  4. Nice, I think some good points are brought up here. Do you guys think it depends on the baby? My friend’s son loves to be carried around all the time, so i think a carrier could be great for him, but in Erin’s case it seems like he would just prefer to be in a stroller. So it could be stroller dependent.

  5. In line with that question i have already researched the benefits of a baby carriers at http://lyndseybattle.com/different-types-of-baby-carrier-to-utilize/ and it’s clear in my mind that baby carriers are one of the best to use. I’ll be conducting a research also on strollers and will see if which is the best. As of now I’m yet confused of what to use but i think with such help this would kindly converted into easy decisions. Thanks for sharing this post, love reading it more…

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