Babywearing Research – Part 3: The Future of Babywearing Research

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Future-of-Babywearing-ResearchToday’s post is the third of three posts on Babywearing Research from Steffany Kerr, a Master Babywearing Educator with Babywearing International of O’ahu. Steffany has a research focus of examining babywearing instruction methods with high risk populations and babywearing instruction as a social welfare intervention.

In the first two parts of this three part series, I outlined common misconceptions about babywearing specific research and provided a short analysis on the benefits and limitations of the research currently available to our industry. Now, in Part 3 of this series, I will discuss current efforts within the babywearing industry to increase information availability and create a foundation of babywearing specific research. This article will not touch on all babywearing research endeavors, but will highlight a few collective measures.

Journal of Babywearing Research and Practice

As outlined in Part 1 of this series, the process of designing and conducting research is long and arduous. While there are a handful of individuals within the babywearing industry conducting research, they often experience roadblocks when attempting to publish their research. To have something published, it needs to be submitted to and approved by academic journals within related disciplines. Although professionals conducting research are well-established in their discipline, the practice of babywearing is not yet viewed as a significant intervention in many professions. Because of that, it can be very challenging to have babywearing specific work published in an academic journal. Without publishing, it is equally hard to disseminate quality information to professionals outside of the babywearing community and to establish the practice as an effective intervention.

To address these challenges and create a venue for publishing quality research, a small group of professionals has established an industry specific, academic journal. The Journal of Babywearing Research and Practice is in the midst of developing an open source platform and creating a quality peer review team of academics and researchers across a variety of disciplines. The journal is scheduled to launch in the fall of 2015 with quarterly issues highlighting industry specific, quality research. This endeavor entails many technological challenges, requires ongoing capital investment, and will necessitate grant funding and diversified fiscal support. For updates on this endeavor, please follow the the Journal of Babywearing Research and Practice on Facebook.

Babywearing International Research Committee

Increasing the quality and quantity of babywearing research will depend upon the existence of researchers willing to undertake babywearing related studies. Within BWI, such a collective exists within the Research Committee. The committee, consisting of a team of professionals across a variety of disciplines, aims to pool intellectual resources to increase babywearing specific research. Researchers within this committee are tackling projects such as literature reviews, and research pertaining to community based and clinical interventions, as well as investigating cultural competency issues within the babywearing industry.

Baby Carrier Industry Alliance Research Committee

BCIA also has a committee specifically dedicated to conducting babywearing specific studies, such as literature reviews and think tank operations. The BCIA is also working on data collection for the purposes of assisting manufacturers and educators in formulating evidence-based practices and decision-making.

Other Individual Efforts

Within the babywearing education industry, there is a handful of researchers undertaking specific studies. This list is not all-inclusive and does not highlight each study in progress, although it highlights some projects currently underway to increase the babywearing specific research base:

  • Lela Rankin Williams, Ph.D., VBE, Associate Professor in the School of Social Work at Arizona State University, is leading a community-based intervention study to quantitatively and qualitatively assess the benefits of babywearing within a vulnerable population. She is working with young moms (15-22 years old) to compare those who received parent programing from an agency to those who received the same programing plus an infant carrier on measures of attachment, health, and postpartum depression, anxiety, and stress. Mothers receive an infant carrier when their babies are between 2-4 weeks of age and they are followed up 3- and 6-months later.
  • Steffany Kerr is working on partnering with community based public health initiatives and parenting education programs to determine efficacy for the use of babywearing as an abuse prevention initiative within the state of Hawaii.
  • Joanna McNeilly, President and Founder of Center for Babywearing Studies, is working toward replicating results and illustrating efficacy for the use of baby carriers as a means of increasing breastfeeding rates.
  • Dr. Henrik Norholt, Chief Science Officer at Ergobaby, is studying the use of baby carriers as a clinical intervention for promoting attachment and supporting child development.
  • Rebecca Green Morse, Babywearing Educator, studies the use of baby carriers as a NICU and WIC intervention within state programming.


Throughout this blog series, I have addressed some of the gaps of babywearing specific research. Although we still have a long way to go to extend our research base, there are some collective measures that aim not only to fill the gap, but also to illustrate the efficacy and limitations of utilizing babywearing as a clinical and community based intervention. While this blog article has not thoroughly detailed each relevant research initiative, it has served to highlight some efforts within the industry that are currently underway. Research begets research, and as we normalize the practice of babywearing within the academic research base, we will inherently incite more babywearing specific research within related disciplines as well. Creating a basis for studying babywearing related topics will take time. We are making headway, however, in collectively organizing industry wide research initiatives to create a professional basis for the practice.

Click here for Part 1: Babywearing Research Common Misunderstandings

Click here for Part 2: Babywearing Research Relevant Research

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