How can I chose a sling or carrier for my newborn baby?
A sling or baby carrier is now on the shopping list for many expectant parents. They have read about all the benefits of carrying, the practicalities of having your hands free, and perhaps even about how they can reduce crying up to 43 %.
And yet choosing the right sling or carrier can be a bit of minefield. I am going to explain a bit about why that can be, what things to take in to account when coming to a decision, and how to save time and money!
Where to find information – or not!
Most parents to be do a lot of research in to the items they purchase for their new arrival, from prams to baby monitors to cots. And yet when it comes to slings there seems to be a dirth of information in the mainstream media. The typical baby magazine will have multiple pages of advertising and articles about choosing a pram or car seat, but maybe only a passing mention of slings. A visit to our local large baby shop (you know the one) when I was pregnant yielded a very small selection of carriers, which were either cheap and nasty, or very expensive. The lady in the shop couldn’t even tell me the differences between them, and no, sorry, you can’t try them on. Friends when asked just shrugged their shoulders, or mentioned supermarket carriers that were really uncomfortable. I did not even know that there were any other types of slings or carriers available. I actually forgot about getting one.
The font of knowledge
When baby Carrying Connects came along, he had severe reflux, and needed to be kept upright as much as possible. Fortunately a friend referred me to a local babywearing consultant, who was running a workshop a few days later. At this workshop I was able to learn about the benefits of carrying, the different types of slings and carriers available, and work out which one was going to be the right one for me and my baby. I could try them out with a weighted doll, and then with my baby. There were no less than 6 different types of slings or carriers to chose from, all of which were suitable from newborn. Only one of the brands I had even heard of.
And this is where your babywearing Consultant can be worth their weight in Gold! They are up to date with the latest offerings in the world of slings and carriers. They know that people that prefer lots of padding may prefer carrier A, whilst those that like something light and snuggly may prefer a stretchy wrap. The parent still very nervous of handling their baby may prefer something incredibly simple to put on, whilst someone else may prefer a woven wrap with the infinite ways of tying and beautiful fabrics. A consultant is able to provide you with an array of slings or carriers to try on, and work with you to find the right one. Using their knowledge will save you the time of potentially trying and returning multiple slings. They are also not tied to any particular brand of sling.
Factors that may influence your choice
Yes, having a baby is an expensive time, and a consultant will be sensitive to your needs. The most popular sling for a newborn baby, a stretchy wrap, comes in at about £40 new (for example the Lifft Stretchy wrap), and around half that second hand. A Ring Sling which can be used for a newborn up to pre-schooler may come in at around £50 but gives you longevity. Soft structured carriers (often referred to as Buckles) range from about £70 to £150 brand new, according to how many bells and whistles you want. The main benefit of investing in the right slings for you is that you will use it. The cost per use can be incredibly low if it is used regularly. Quality brands will retain value for selling on once you have used them. Skimping on a sling that you then find uncomfortable and don’t use, and end up giving away, is not going to be good for your wallet in the long run. Babywearing consultants keep an eye on special offers offered by sling retailers, and are often able to pass on discounts to their customers.
Time of year
If you are expecting a summer baby you may look towards breathable fabrics, airflow meshes, or simply slings that have less layers of fabric.
If you have other children
Some parents like to have a sling in which they are able to carry an older child instead of the younger one, should the need arise. Some slings and carriers have a wider age range than others.
If you have issues which will impact on your physical use of the sling
Perhaps you have residual carpal tunnel pain from pregnancy or arthritis which makes tying knots or clipping buckles difficult. A consultant will be able to help identify which slings or carriers may suit you best.
What you like the look of
There is nothing wrong with that! Most of the carriers available in high street shops are black and grey, but there is a world of colour and pattern out there waiting to be explored! At a time when you choice of every day clothes may be limited, wearing a carrier with your child that is colourful can make you feel better!
What is comfortable for you both
As already mentioned, a comfortable sling or carrier is one that you will use regularly and really benefit from in the long run. There is simply no substitute for trying a number on, and finding the one that suits you best.
So when thinking about choosing a sling or carrier, a good first step is to contact your local baby wearing consultant or sling library, who will give you the information to make the best choice for you and your newborn.
Ruth Grint is a babywearing consultant based in Wirral, Merseyside. Ruth offers one to one consultations and group workshops on slings and carrying, as well as offering a range of slings in the Carrying Connects Shop.
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