I have made no secret about the fact that I love baby carrying, I was always a fan of it but since having my second child it’s become a necessity. It allows me to do things around the house, play with Everley or walk the dog without worrying and it also magically calms Rory right down easily. Babies love to feel close and hear your heartbeat, so by popping them in a carrier you’er both happy!
It is now more common to see people carrying babies and young children in slings/carriers, though I have been asked ‘if I just made my sling with a piece of material’ and also had it referred to as a ‘bit hippy and mother earth’…. Like seriously! I’m so greedy I have three carriers, with Zoe’s tips below you’ll understand why. There has been a rise in the number of sling libraries and consultants and I highly recommend finding your local one to suss out the perfect carrier for you before you spend all the money on buying one.
Zoe is a sling consultant who holds group and 121 sessions throughout Surrey – check her out @theslingconsultancy
Zoe has kindly pulled together some top tips for choosing a sling/carrier for me to share with you:
1. Don’t buy what your friend /physio/osteo/shop assistant/magazine says!
Often what fits one person well is not going to automatically fit someone else so because “insert anyone giving you advice” says they love their xyz it may not be the best for you and your child. Every person has different preferences, different body shapes, different capabilities, different tolerances and different ways of learning. There is no one single best sling/carrier, only what is best for you and your child! And this may be different to others.
2. Spending ££££ doesn’t = the best
The more expensive slings/carriers are around £130-£150 but with many costing between £50-£100. Does spending a lot mean it’s going to be comfortable and work for you? Not necessarily! Buying the most expensive carrier or sling doesn’t mean it is going to fit you, or meet you and your child’s needs. Often paying more means paying for a brand name and marketing campaigns etc so buying a less expensive carrier doesn’t make it lesser quality at all. A good way to check quality of a carrier/sling is to ask what standards it meets. There are various standards they can be tested to to ensure safe such as EN/BS 13209-2015 or CEN/TR16512:2015 so look out for these rather than the price tag. Slings/carriers are considerably cheaper than buggies or prams. Depending on the brand and type, the price can vary. It is important to try them on and think about how you are going to use the carrier/sling this will help narrow it down. There are budget-friendly brands and brands aimed at high end and the fashion aspect of the market too. Buying second hand is also a good option, ensuring they aren’t fakes and are in good condition. Many hold their value well, meaning you can sell it on once you are no longer using the sling/carrier.
3. Think about what suits their current developmental needs
Often what meets a newborn baby’s need for snug, soft all round gentle support, isn’t going to necessarily meet the needs of a much bigger mobile child or toddler! Trying to get something that is going to work well from day one until toddlerhood and beyond is challenging simply because they have very different developmental needs at different ages. A 4month baby is vastly different compared to a week old newborn. Many buckle carriers state that they are suitable from newborn but in practise these can be less comfy and less supportive than a stretchy wrap. Also a newborn baby will want contact for a lot of the day and as they grow and develop they may not need as much contact. Much like shoes, if I am wearing them all day I will pick a different option compared to if I am only wearing them for an hour to so.
4. One size doesn’t always fit all
With stretchy wraps and wovens one size does fit all as they are long pieces you tie. However, with buckle carriers typically they are designed to try and fit a range of different sizes/shapes etc.In reality this means is that some just don’t fit some people very well. They do all have ways of adjusting and tweaking fit such as changing from using ruck-sack straps to cross straps. It also means that what fits a 6month old well may not work as well at 12months or 18months. It might also work brilliantly for front carrying but less so for back carrying or hip carrying depending on type of carrier.
5. Visit a sling library or see a consultant
It can be super useful to visit a sling library or consultant to see what options are out there. They will have many more in stock than most shops will to look at and feel and try on. Libraries are also independent as in they will not push certain brands for certain margins etc. Those that volunteer at libraries often are trained and have a lot of experience using a variety of carriers/slings so it is possible that they can help with your own carrier/sling to make it more comfortable or they may suggest some alternatives based on your needs. Library sessions are often free to attend or for a small donation and run at set times/dates with low costs to borrow slings/carriers to see how they fit you and your child ie £5 for 2 weeks.Consultants work privately doing one-to-ones, workshops, group sessions and can visit you in your home at time that suits you.
Why Babywearing Matters by Rosie Knowles published by Pinter & Martin