A Sling is a Wonderful Thing

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Before I became pregnant, I had never given a moment’s thought to the transportation of babies. They go in push chairs, and that’s where they go. Or so I thought. It was only on walking into a popular baby shop that I became aware of the range of options, and found that none were going to work for us.

Not only would it be impossible to get most of the tank-with-tractor-wheel travel systems up our staircase (we live on the first floor), but we didn’t have anywhere to store it even if we could. And that’s assuming we could even afford one in the first place.

I don’t really remember when Baby wearing, slingusing a sling first occurred to me, but my initial course of action was to do what most people do: go for the best-known brands. My parents kindly bought us our first baby sling, and for the first while the Bruin carrier was great.

It was sturdy, rigid and seemed secure and comfortable. In fact, I carried our daughter around town for five hours when she was just six days of age – not a recommended activity post-natally, but neither my back nor my child suffered any ill effect.

Unfortunately, as she became heavier, I found the sling caused me more and more back ache. I was doing Mom and Baby Salsa once a week and found that was becoming harder too and was really beginning to think that I would have no choice but to resort to a push chair.

Fortunately, another kind soul came to my rescue when a friend gave me a sling she was no longer using. It is called a Mei Tai and has straps that tie around the middle and hang over the shoulder.

Thanks to the Ella Roo Mei Tai, I’ve managed another two months so far of baby wearing, for which I am so grateful. In researching for this post, I also discovered a different way of tying the sling so that it provides additional support, and having given it a try I am confident I’ll be able to carry my daughter until at least the recommended nine months now.(edit: 18/09/2012 – I carried her in the Mei Tai for 18 months and still carry her sometimes at almost 3 in an Ergo)

Even so, I inevitably need to make sure I take more breaks, as my knees are starting to hurt. Not when I carry our daughter around, but when I get up and sit down. But I have loved carrying her. I have loved the closeness I have felt to her, her head asleep on my chest, her hand resting on my breast. I have loved being able to kiss and hold her close.

I’ve loved how she falls asleep when we walk, when we salsa, when I sit in situations where other children are frustrated and irritable, like waiting rooms and embassy queues. I have loved being able to clean the house, cook and generally continue with life by putting her in the sling.

Even when we do move her in to a push chair, it will be parent-facing so that we do not lose that connection, and she still knows where to find me. (Edit: We never did put her in a pushchair)

Of course, baby-wearing also has health benefits for babies, especially those born prematurely. They experience the sling as a womb extension, and it helps to sooth them. There is also evidence that ‘worn’ preemies grow and develop faster, and in general, babies who are worn cry less than their counterparts kept isolated in prams (I say ‘isolated’ as I remember reading a story about African women in a remote village laughing at the suggestion of a pram and questioning what was wrong with the babies that they had to be kept in isolation. Sadly, I can’t find the article now).

Dr Sears has a fantastic website on the topic. There has also been a lot of mention in the press recently about the safety of baby carriers and slings and the impact on spines and hips. It’s worth reading this article before making any final purchasing decisions. If you need more convincing, Dr Momma also has a wealth of resources on the subject.

Unfortunately most people I have met have gone for the most common sling types, such as Baby Bjorn and Bruin and end up quitting baby wearing as soon as the baby gets a bit bigger due to the pressure on their backs, even with the added back support.

I highly recommend trying some of the tie or ring slings if at all possible before buying the popular ones. It might help you prolong the simple beauty of keeping your child close to you a little longer.

Does anyone have any experience on this? I’d love to hear your views!

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31 thoughts on “A Sling is a Wonderful Thing

  1. Pingback: What Do You Mean ‘Natural Parenting’? | Diary of a First Child
  2. I don’t think I know what I would have done without babywearing. It was the only way to get my little one to nap for ages. I have had a few slings the worst being the Baba Sling (don’t get one) which is a bag type sling (the type that has had babies suffocate in and I can see why) that is really difficult to adjust and the best being a MeiTai that my mum made by copying a friends Babyhawk Mei Tai. My OH loves the Baby Bjorn but I find it uncomfortable and bad on my back. I also used a woven wrap for a while but it is a bit of a fiddle to get her into but when she was happy to be carried for hours it was great.
    Charlotte Burt’s last blog post ..289b-365 Something a bit silly

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  3. Kesia

    I just love wearing Skyler and he really enjoys it as well. I have found he is less fussy if we are wearing him, rather than pushing him. He is at eye level, he can see and explore the world around him. Yes, I am a lover of wearing my Grandson! <3 Kudos to all the Baby Wearers! <3

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  4. It’s tough because they’ve been recalling slings due to babies suffocating in them. I can’t imagine how that would happen, but I wouldn’t feel right giving one as a gift right now.
    .-= Joey´s last blog ..Dumb dreams =-.

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    Luschka Reply:

    Oh, Joey! No, that’s the problem with the whole sling recall. There are SOME that have been recalled, but they are the actual ‘sling’ types. The Mei Tai and wraps are totally different. The problem is that babies suffocate because their head is on their chest, as I understand it. But that’s not the case with all slings or all baby carriers, so don’t worry about them in general! In my opinion, one of the most valuable gifts you can give is a sling. It’s so great for bonding and all :)

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  5. Just say no to the Baby Bjorn, they are SOO uncomfortable on the back, particularly the shoulders and lowerback. It’s such a shame that most people end up buying these, then having to trade them in or give up on the idea of babywearing as they are ridiculously painful to wear.

    I must admit that carrying my daughter who is now nearly 10 kilos and 18 months is getting a bit harder, even in my beloved Ergo sling. We walked about 3 miles around Battersea Park and my hips were feeling the strain at the end of the day! I may invest in a very cheap stroller that I can fold on public transport whilst carrying her in the sling as there is NO WAY I would ever use a pram on public transport – too much hassle!
    .-= Lorraine´s last blog ..Bombi is ‘The King’ =-.

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    Luschka Reply:

    @Lorraine, I agree – and the bonus of babywearing on the tube or bus is that people ALWAYS tend to offer you a seat, which is just so welcome after lugging a baby around all day! :) It is getting harder though – but since the changes to the EllaRoo I’m happier!

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    Lorraine Reply:

    @Luschka, Hmm I don’t always get offered a seat, but then she’s on my back mostly so it’s hard to spot her!
    .-= Lorraine´s last blog ..Toddle Waddle in Dulwich Park, April 24th =-.

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  6. I absolutely love wearing my babies! Like you, I went for a popular carrier when my first daughter was born, the Snugli. I hated it, and so did my daughter, because it wasn’t adjustable enough and had badly placed buckles that rubbed her little legs. So we gave up babywearing until she was about 6 months old and I discovered there were other options! I had a few pouch slings and a mei tai which is my favorite. (and she still loves it at 3yo!)

    When my second daughter was born, I was determined to figure out how to correctly and carefully wear her as a newborn. What worked best for us were the ring sling and a stretchy wrap. I don’t know what I would do without my babywearing stash!
    .-= Steph @ Problem Solvin Mom´s last blog ..Attractive and convenient toy or snack storage =-.

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    Luschka Reply:

    @Steph @ Problem Solvin Mom, I know I said it before, but it blows me away how the popular can even be selling so well, when everyone suffers! It’s an oddity! I’m impressed that you still carry at 3 yo. How long do you carry for at any given time?

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  7. I had some friends who always wore their baby – and he was a HUGE baby, he looked about 1 when he was 3 months old…..
    .-= Rachel Cotterill´s last blog ..Script Frenzy =-.

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    Luschka Reply:

    @Rachel Cotterill, Lol – that sounds large! Good on them for sticking to it! :)

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  8. The ring type sling was fab up till about 3 years! Saved me on a plane ride!
    .-= Susie´s last blog ..Take a Moment To Appreciate Nature’s Beauty =-.

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    Luschka Reply:

    @Susie, We’re looking forward to our first flight – not sure when yet, but I will definitely have the sling handy. We sat in a seminar recently and she was so well behaved when she was in her sling!

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  9. Vic

    We got a mothercare sling that the SIL was given but rarely ever used. I can wear it for an hour or so but then it starts to give me backache. I have enough of my top-heaviness doing that as it is. I’d love to try a sling like yours but don’t want to shell out in case I still have the same problem. Will have to try yours out next time we meet up!
    .-= Vic´s last blog ..Web Fox =-.

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    Luschka Reply:

    @Vic, Totally agree – you just never know with these things till you try it, and you can fork out so much money on ‘tries’, it’s no good! You’re welcome to try it next time I see you. It definitely is easier in the EllaRoo!

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  10. I’m a huge fan of lugging my baby around, and now that she’s a bit bigger, just learned to use my wrap as a back carrier. With a long wrap, you can supposedly carry your kid on your back until they’re something like 30-40 pounds (though by then they usually want to walk). We also use our stroller, however, especially for longer (4+ mile) walks or when going into shops since I’m still at the stage where I have to sit to get her on my back.
    .-= Christa´s last blog ..Confessions of a Sometimes Co-Sleeper =-.

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    Luschka Reply:

    @Christa, I also struggle to get her on and off if she’s on my back. I definitely need help for that. But it is easier when you need to get things done. So long as they don’t throw up! lol. Thanks for the comment!

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  11. Babywearing is a fabulous parenting tool, with many benefits for both parent and child. If you have the right sling for your needs, you can carry on wearing for as long as you like. I still wear my 3.5 year old son in my SnugBaby (www.snugbaby.co.uk) sometimes; when his little legs get tired (it’s far easier to pop a sling in my bag than lug an empty pushchair around when he wants to walk). I can carry him on my back now he’s bigger, but with a mei tai type carrier, such as SnugBaby, you can also carry on your front or hip, and usually one size fits all.

    There is plenty of information about the various kinds of baby carrier at http://www.getyourhandsback.co.uk or various other websites, and there is a baby carrier for everyone. If you are not sure which to try, it’s worth checking out a local babywearing group so you can try some out, and get advice from mums who already use the slings.

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    Luschka Reply:

    @Claire, Thanks for your fab and informative comment Claire, and thanks for sharing those links!

    I am happy to know that there’s hope still for me carrying Kyra longer – I totally agree re an empty pushchair! I have definitely found that tying the straps behind her bum rather than around my waist helps so much with the distribution of weight.

    Thanks for stopping by!

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  12. Ooh, I’ve become a huge sling fan this time round. Really, really wish I’d known about them (properly) when Rosemary was a baby.

    We’re still managing to use our Kari-Me stretchy wrap, though will probably have to move onto something different soon. We have a ring sling, which didn’t suit me at all to start with, but may well be more appropriate now. We also have an Ergo Carrier somewhere from when Rosemary was a baby – bought it, wore it for a week and then never used it again. The thing I love about the stretchy wrap, is that it is so incredibly easy to put on and to use. I hated the Baby Bjorn we had when Rosemary was a baby and could never get the straps done up correctly. I’m really hoping I can find something similarly easy to move on to now Eleanor’s getting heavier. I can still carry her, but can’t really manage any shopping on my back at the same time, anymore.

    Anyway, yes, love baby-wearing for all sorts of reasons. We do use a buggy too – different situations call for different solutions. A buggy is very useful for carrying shopping home, for example!
    .-= Tasha (Coding Mamma)´s last blog ..Commenting system removed =-.

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    Luschka Reply:

    @Tasha (Coding Mamma), Thanks for the comment Tasha! I agree – there are different situations. I must admit, I once used the pushchair to go grocery shopping and found that a TOTAL nightmare! I can’t do that again! But it is useful if, say, a lunch date or dinner appointment fall over nap/bed time. I do love carrying her though – there’s nothing more beautiful than feeling her sighs, and seeing the sparkle in her eyes as new things catch her attention. In addition, the number of people who randomly stop us in the street to coo over her is amazing. Lol

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