When I was pregnant with my first baby a friend made me a stretchy wrap sling (in purple of course) and I was intrigued. I dutifully practised with a teddy bear (though I have since discovered that teddy bears and baby’s have several major differences) and couldn’t wait to float around with my baby in a sling looking every bit the Earth Mother.
Baby wearing is brilliant. My baby’s have loved being in the sling. Also since I have gone on and become a mum of two and three, life has been much easier because of baby wearing. I have just strapped the smallest one on and gone about my life (within reason, it’s a sling not a miracle).
Since then I have used six different slings, on three different babies, over four years. I have compiled my top sling wearing tips:
1. Do your research. There are lots of different slings on the market. What suits one parent/baby pair may not necessarily be for you. It all depends on your shape and size and what you wish to use the sling for.
If you’re lucky your area will have a sling meet at which you can try a variety of different slings, visit one when you are pregnant. Alternatively there is a wealth of information on the net on different slings, so check it out.
2. Start wearing baby early, as early as possible. This is for two reasons. Firstly the baby will get used to being in a sling very quickly at a young age and soon learn what to expect and to settle very quickly in one. In fact in time my babies got excited when they saw the sling because they knew it meant some snuggly mummy or daddy time. Secondly tiny babies are not very heavy, big babies are. If you start with a tiny baby your strength will build with the baby.
3. When you bend down in a sling use your legs not your back. It sounds obvious but if you don’t you will get a bad back, quickly.
4. Get a change bag that works well with your sling. Some companies even have change bags which attach to the sling.
I have always found a shoulder bag good.I can simply wear it either across my front or my back depending on where baby is being carried.
As I mentioned earlier I have used six different slings. Here is a list of the slings I used and how I found them. Some of these I still use every day and some I have sold on.
1. Home made stretchy wrap. I’m sure there are work at home moms who make brilliant stretchy wraps. Unfortunately for me the material chosen for mine was a little too stretchy. So baby ended up a little too close to my knees for my liking.
For this reason I suggest if you fancy getting online and using a pattern to make your own (of which there are many) you chose your fabric very carefully.
2. Mei Tai. A Mei Tai is a cross between a structured carrier and a wrap yourself in knots sling. It has a main body where baby goes and long straps which you tie around yourself like the straps on a rucksack.
They come in really lovely designs (something to suit everyone) and I felt brilliant walking out in mine. You can do a front carry, and a back carry which are both relatively easy to achieve. I found mine very comfortable in both carries and would definatly recommend these slings.
3. Baby Bjorn. The most mainstream of the sling family. I wouldn’t recommend this sling. Although very easy to use (barely any learning curve at all) there has been some discussion about slings of this type and spinal stress.
Also as all the weight in the Baby Bjorn is on the wearers upper back and shoulders. This means as baby gets bigger a lot of people find this sling becomes uncomfortable.
4. Hot sling. The Hot Sling is a pouch sling. It is sized to the wearer. I found this one useful but not as my main sling. The reason being that I dont find it particularly comfortable for long use. What it is brilliant for is short trips. It folds up very small so I can pop it in my bag and when I need it for example for a short walk round the shops it is there.
Also useful when older babies start toddling and they are at the pick me up put me down phase (if you have been there you will know what I mean). As you can do a hip carry with this sling you can pop them in and out as they fancy.
5. Ergo. My favourite sling, this was the one that saved my life with my second baby. It is a soft structured carrier with clips. You can do a front, hip and back carry. It puts the weight of the baby on your hips, making it extremely comfortable.
I wore my middle baby (a very high need baby) in this, day in day out for most of his first year. I cooked and cleaned in it. I chased my eldest round the park in it. I even wore my eldest in it at three years old from time to time when he got tired. It is a fabulous sling.
6. Kari Me. When expecting Wonder Girl I decided to give the stretchy wrap another try. I’m really glad I did. You can do a variety of different carries but I have only used the front carry so far. For the first three months of her life Wonder Girl spend most of her waking and sleeping hours in this sling. She slept for hours in it. For tiny babies I think stretchy wraps are fantastic.
So out of these slings here is what I would recommend.
For newborn to six months a stretchy wrap like a Kari Me
For six month old onwards a structured carrier like the Ergo
Whatever sling you choose I hope you enjoy the convenience and closeness of baby wearing. Happy slinging.