Monday 21 October 2013

I want to carry my little one, but which sling? Where do I start?

Dear Friend,

You have asked your friends who wish to give you a new baby gift to rather make a gift, whether it be crafted, cooked or simply a story. The gift I would love to give you is that of Babywearing, so in honour of that I would like to dedicate this series of blogs to you. From my heart I wish you many hours of cuddles with your little one, embraced by your sling of choice, close to your heart.

With love xxx

How to choose which sling?

Snugly stretchy wraps?
Alas there is no simple one answer- although this is a good thing as we and our babies are all individual, so should our carrier choice be. Why is this? Our needs are different, our parenting choices are different, our life styles are different, our personalities are different, our bodies/shapes are different and our babies are different and on top of that our needs, our parenting approach, our life style, our babies change as our little one(s) grows- it is an ever evolving thing. 

Pretty, versatile woven wraps?

So my question back to anyone asking this question is ‘how do you envisage you will use a sling? How do you want it to help your day to day life with your little one? For example will you use it for walking the dogs, to free up your arms round the house or walking the older children to school? What is it important that it does for you: that it is quick to use, enables you to back carry or that it simply looks pretty? Who will be using it: just yourself, you and your partner/an older sibling/grandparent? How are their requirements different?’ The answers do not necessarily conjure up a simple answer and of course our answers and requirements can change but it is a good starting point to focus the mind and maybe narrow the choices.                                                                                                   
Quick to use ring sling?
The Babywearing world can be overwhelming, especially when- whether you are pregnant, have a newborn or are chasing after a toddler- there is so much else going on. It can be hard to get to grips with the terminology, the wealth of information and variety of carriers and slings out there. So where do you start? The internet is always a great resource, but always be aware of ‘not best practice’ videos/pictures and conflicting advice and opinions. Next there are local sling meets and sling libraries, offering you the chance to talk to other mums and get your hands on/try the carriers available to see what starts to inspire you. If you want something more comprehensive and personal then you can arrange to see a Babywearing Consultant, who will offer professional, impartial information in the form of workshops or one to ones. This will be in an environment conducive to learning, where you will be taught how to use the carriers safely and with best practice.  

The lovely mei tai?
Bare in mind that slings are a little like shoes, one pair of shoes is not necessarily the best option for every given occasion or situation, sometimes we need different shoes for different activities, so do remember not every sling will necessarily meet your every need from newborn to toddler and beyond, so you might want to be open to the possibility of needing more than one in your babywearing journey. Budget of course is always a consideration and there are ways to be economical (although be aware of cheap fakes and remember in some cases cheaper carriers will not be as padded, supportive or comfortable). And never forget that most carriers can be sold on – there is a huge pre-loved market out there so it is possible your carrier will have a resale value.

Overall though I recommend that you enjoy researching, trying, playing and finding the carrier/sling(s) for you. Your one(s) are out there. 

To help get you started, or just for your interest, I will be posting a blog for each type of carrier over the next couple of months to give you a little more information of what they are, some of the terminology to note and the pros and cons whilst trying to keep it simple and informative.

Practical, man friendly buckles?

Further resources:
Starting points for internet research click here and here
Online (babywearing) advice and information by Anne McEwan from WrapMyBaby
To find your local sling library click here
To find your local babywearing consultatnt click here
Babywearing on a budget by Anne McEwan from WrapMyBaby
Natural Mamas: amongst other useful information and forums have a FSOT Slings and Carriers forum
An Important Note on Safety

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