It is becoming more and more common to see parents using slings and carriers. They’re so convenient. You can give your baby the cuddles that they desire, whilst having both your hands free to do whatever else you want. Plus it’s so easy to get around. Small shops, cobbled roads, steps, walks in the countryside, are not an issue. When choosing a sling, it makes a real difference to spend some time finding out what sort of sling would work best for you and get some help with how to use it too. There are lots of videos available on youtube, but nothing quite matches up to getting 1:1 support from a person that spends time teaching you.
What type of slings and carriers are there?
- Many high street shops sell narrow-based buckle carriers. These used to be the only option but there is so much more available now. Once you are past the newborn phase, a carrier that supports your baby knee to knee will feel more cuddly for you and your child will feel considerably lighter.
- Stretchy wraps are wonderfully soft for a newborn and great for the first few months. When buying a stretchy wrap, many people aren’t aware of the difference between a 2-way and 1-way stretchy. Most parents find a 2-way stretchy wrap much easier to learn to use. Sling school is a local brand that makes beautiful 2-way stretchy wraps, where each wrap is made to order and customisable, and is very affordable. There are other carriers based on this such as the caboo, which are part-structured.
- Buckle carriers are very popular. There are a few big brands which many people have heard of, but lots of smaller, newer companies producing very high-quality, comfortable, ergonomic carriers. Most work well from 4-6 months upwards. Increasingly, manufacturers are making adjustable carriers meaning they fit from an earlier age. If buying a buckle carrier for a newborn, check whether the carrier is truly adjustable or whether it requires an insert for newborns as inserts can be bulky and fiddly to use. Kahubaby is a local brand, designed by a sling consultant in Kendal and very adjustable.
- Woven wraps are hugely adaptable. They work with any age of baby or toddler and come in a huge range of patterns and materials. Many parents get great satisfaction from learning a range of different carries. If you learn to use a woven wrap in a sling library, then companies such as firespiral slings, which is a local brand, do a fledgling scheme to make the wraps more affordable for someone buying their first.
- Ring slings can be used with any age of baby or toddler and are fantastic for quick up and downs with toddlers. When you get them right, they’re amazingly comfortable and very simple, but it’s quite a steep learning curve to use the first time.
- Tie-on carriers have a panel like a buckle carrier, but straps that you tie to fasten. They come with padded straps, or with wider wrap straps.
What is the best type of sling?
This is entirely personal. There are many fantastic slings and carriers out there and what is amazing for one person might be very uncomfortable for somebody else. Some people like a firm waistband, whereas others find that restrictive. Many people think that they want the reassuring click of a buckle, but then end up loving something else better. Or they choose a brand that’s the best-known, but find it’s bulkier than they wanted or doesn’t quite work with their body shape. Another thing that makes a huge difference to how well people get on with their carrier is how it is fitted. Nothing beats being shown personally. If you have got a sling library locally, then go along.
What is a sling library?
Sling libraries are places that you can go along and see a wide range of slings and carriers. Volunteers have had thorough training on helping parents with slings and can discuss your requirements with you, suggesting suitable options and then teaching you how to use them. Sling hire is available. We have 2 sling libraries locally: Morecambe Bay Slings covering Lancaster & Morecambe, see more info and all dates here, and a monthly meet in Kendal run by Koala Slings (email for upcoming dates). Some people use a sling library to investigate a few different slings before choosing what to buy. Many people however, never buy their own and just hire slings monthly, changing style or type of carrier as their child grows.
What would I use a sling for?
- walks in the countryside
- everyday cuddles
- follow a toddler round and interact with them without worrying about where your new baby is
- instead of a pram or in addition to
- great for steps and cobbles
- instantly calm a baby that wants to be held
- you may even do a parent and baby postnatal movement class using your carrier
- just at home, or just outside – use it however you like, there’s no right amount of time to use a carrier
For more info on slings and carriers locally, check out Slings and Carriers.