Kindergartener Wearing?!?!

I’ve mentioned before that my stepson has Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder. This week, his school completed his IEP which details his strengths and weaknesses and coordinates a plan of action for his best educational scenario. At his IEP, repeatedly, the specialists made mention that his biggest weakness was an immature and damaged vestibular system.

The vestibular system is the sensory system in a person’s brain that provides awareness of balance, spatial awareness, and movement. My step-son’s vestibular immaturity leads to his nervous system being overloaded and when it is, he seeks out movement such as swinging.  In normal babies, we see this need sought after when they seem to only be put to sleep by a baby swing.  In reality, the swinging motion only soothes the vestibular system; it does nothing to help mature it. The way to mature, rather than just sooth, a vestibular system is to be carried by an adult.  When an adult carries a baby, the baby’s own vestibular system learns to mirror the adult’s mature vestibular system by experiencing “mature movements.”  You see, there is a natural rhythm of movement that is inherently human that no baby swing, bouncer or stroller can replicate.

This is why baby wearing is so crucial. The lack of baby wearing keeps a baby’s vestibular system immature and because it is so intertwined with other bodily systems, not baby wearing leads to digestive problems, nervous problems, panic attacks, poor sleeping habits, teeth grinding, colic, and reflux, just to name a few of the issues.

Now, my step son’s vestibular system is damaged, not just immature. It was damaged by his birth mother’s alcohol consumption while she was pregnant with him. There are studies that seem to indicate that brains can heal though. I know it’s not common to believe it, (brain damage is permanent is the common belief) but there seems to be some evidence that has been arising that offers me hope.

You see where I’m heading with this right?

Dr. Sears, perhaps the most well recognized and renowned pediatrician who favors natural parenting methods, has a question and answer area online. So, I asked. 

Would “wearing” my five year old in a baby carrier cause any emotional attachment issues? Could I harm him in a way that would create a co-dependence by baby wearing him at such a late age?  His answer was no.  He also went on to say that in baby wearing, vestibular system, FAS, fetal alcoholfact, it was actually possible that wearing my kindergartener could actually heal his vestibular system.

For the first time, I have hope. Not just that he will do “the best he can with his life,” but that he may heal.

I share this story to stress the importance of babywearing, but also to offer hope to mothers of FAS children. I don’t know if it will work, but hope isn’t about “knowing.”  It’s about having enough potential to take a step down a new path. I will keep you posted.


  1. Carla

    Hi Dawn – I know I’m a little late here (!), but I’m wondering if you experienced any adjustment in your step-sons vestibular maturity via wearing him. I’m raising a 6y/o who was just dx with FAS and he has also been identified as having a vestibular immaturity…so, I’m intrigued! Thanks in advance for any perspective you’re willing to share. Carla

    • Dawn

      I don’t think it was as notable as when I wore my other children during their infancy. But I did notice a difference in him. I will say though, that I don’t know how to measure if the difference was long term. It appeared to only be beneficial temporarily and for the day that he was worn. Eventually, he did get too heavy. I feel that I should have carried him even more than I did for a lasting effect. I think that from what I saw, the earlier and the longer a person can wear a FAS dx child the better off they will be in many areas besides just vestibular maturity. Also, Carla, please feel free to send private messages to our facebook account if you have any needs with your newly diagnosed child. I’m still learning, but there are certainly some things I could have NOT done that would have saved me a lot of time and heartbreak.

      • Dawn

        At the same time, he did require much less work at school and stopped needing this in physical therapy, so perhaps the benefit was long term here. I just can’t say for sure.

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