According to a recent study, babies benefit from being held — A LOT. It's a fact that veteran parents already know, but one that can easily overwhelm exhausted first-time moms and dads. Fortunately, babywearing — the practice of carrying your baby close to your body in a cloth carrier — can help.

Why try babywearing? Here a just a handful of reasons to consider:

1. Carried Babies Cry Less

One study published in Pediatrics found that babywearing for at least three hours a day reduced crying by a whopping 43%. And what parent doesn't appreciate less crying?

2. Babywearing Makes Infants Feel Secure

Have you ever heard of the fourth trimester? Human infants need time to adjust to the world outside the womb, and they feel calmer and more secure when held close to mom's heartbeat (or that of another loving caregiver).

3. The Power of Touch

We tend to underestimate the power of touch in our culture, but most babies have an intense need for physical contact. Babywearing helps meet this need.

4. Good for Preemies

Babywearing can be especially beneficial for premature infants. Read this article on Kangaroo Care: 20 Reasons to Wrap Your Preemie to find out why.

5. Helps Parents Become Attuned to Their Babies

It takes time to develop confidence as a new parent, but keeping baby close helps you learn to read and respond to cues more quickly.

6. Hands-Free!

When you use a baby carrier, you're holding your baby — but BOTH of your hands are free. Which means you can do household chores, go grocery shopping, or even keep baby snuggled close while casting your vote in the European Parliament.

7. Baby Carrier Options Are Endless

With so many different types of carriers to choose — ring slings, pouch slings, mei tais, soft structured carriers — you're sure to find one (or several) that is right for you.

8. A Stylish Fashion Accessory

Baby carriers come in some absolutely gorgeous fabrics, and many moms often find their carrier to be the only splash of style in an otherwise dull "mom wardrobe."

9. It's Not Just for Moms

Babywearing helps dads, grandparents, and other caregivers bond with and comfort baby too. Plus, for a lot of new moms, there's nothing sexier than a dad wearing a baby.

10. It Makes Breastfeeding Easier

When baby has instant access, frequent nursing sessions are easier to accomodate. Many moms also find that a good carrier makes breastfeeding in public easier too.

11. No More Pumpkin Seats

Car seat systems sound great on a baby registry, but lugging one of those infant seats around all day is nobody's idea of a good time. A baby carrier provides you with a welcome alternative.

12. It Even Works in the Water

Need to hold your infant while chasing your older kids at the pool? Mesh carriers are designed specifically for this purpose. Some moms have even been known to use these to get a much-needed shower.

13. It Can (and Should) Be Done Safely

Babywearing has been controversial because it can be harmful when done improperly. But if you follow safety guidelines and choose a good quality carrier, the practice is both incredibly safe and incredibly rewarding.

14. Baby Carriers Make Great Shower Gifts

Carriers can get expensive, but they also make wonderful baby shower gifts, so ask and ye shall (hopefully) receive.

15. Not Just for Newborns

Older infants and toddlers can be carried too. They'll love being able to see the world from up high, and you'll love the security of knowing they're close (and not darting off every three seconds as toddlers tend to do).

16. Better Bedtimes and Naptimes

Struggling to get your baby or toddler to sleep? Pop them in a carrier and go about your business. If they're truly tired, they'll nod off before you know it.

17. Help Is Available

Babywearing is overwhelming for just about everyone at first. The trick, as with most aspects of parenting, is to learn as you go. You'll thank yourself later if you look for babywearing groups or a certified babywearing educator in your area, and take advantage of the hands-on guidance they can provide.

Babywearing is an ancient practice that has only recently regained popularity in the Western world. There's a definite learning curve, but the benefits are well worth the extra effort. If you're interested in learning more, be sure to check out Babywearing International to get started.