Are slings and carriers for babies a waste of money?
Has someone said this to you when you have mentioned getting a sling or carrier for your child? Have you wandered past them in a department store baby section and promptly passed on by, with a sharp intake of breath? Yes some slings and carriers can be expensive, but I am going to explain to ensure that they do not become a waste of money.
The Cheap and not so cheerful
Since the advent of Amazon and eBay, the market in slings and carriers has become huge and international. Either website will offer you an array of baby carrying devices, many at prices that look too good to be true. You may also see carriers available to pick up with your weekly shopping in the local supermarket. Do they offer good value though?
When buying from the internet, it is difficult to know exactly what you are going to get. Many “branded” carriers on offer, particularly those from overseas, are in fact copies of the well known brands. You have no guarantees that these products have been safety tested, are made with dyes that are safe for children (many babies suck slings) or come with safety instructions. You would also have no come-back if anything went wrong with them. Many of them do not conform to current safety guidelines, and could be a suffocation risk. If it looks too good to be true, it usually is. If you are being drawn to the big brands, consider buying from a reputable retailer, or. second hand. I will go in to more details on these options below.
One of my clients recently bought a “baby wrap” from eBay, and thought it was a decent price. When it arrived she tried to use it using the supplied instructions, struggled, and threw it in the washing pile. When I saw it, we identified that it was a one way stretchy wrap, with no middle marker, and was a short length all of which made it difficult to use. With a switch to a standard length two way stretchy wrap with a middle marker, and some in-person guidance on how to use it, mum and baby were happy. The cheap eBay wrap turned out to be a false economy.
The cheap carriers supermarkets and baby stores may appear to be good value on the surface, but many parents struggle to use them comfortably. The number for sale as “never used” on Facebook Marketplace will give an indication of this! Your local sling library or consultant will be able to help you to improve the comfort, but if you are wanting to use a sling regularly you may find that getting a slightly more expensive carrier will be a better move in the long run.
The top of the range
On a recent visit to a local department store, I saw a range of 2 brands of baby carriers, with prices ranging from £70 to £160. There were perhaps 6 different carriers to chose from. Some people assume that the most expensive carrier will be the “best”, but this is not always the case. Carriers are often described as being like a pair of jeans, what suits you won’t suit someone else, and it is only by trying them on that you will identify what works for you and your baby. By all means have a try of them.. but would you buy a car from a showroom that only had 6 cars to chose from?
To put this in to context, the local Wirral Sling Library is a relatively small library, and yet there 29 different brands of slings to chose from. The most popular carrier retails for around £70 new, the most expensive is £155, but the vast majority come in for under £80. Most can be used from newborn upwards, some will last until you child is 2, 3 or even older. If you find a carrier that works for you and your child, and use every day, this works out as amazing value for money!
How using a Sling Library or Babywearing Consultant can help you to save money
By trying before you buy you will know that whether you are buying new or second had you are getting something that will work for you and your child. If buying new, you will often be entitled to discounts which typically range from 5-10% off the recommended retail price from reputable retailers. If you prefer to buy second hand, you will be signposted in the direction of groups and retailers where you may get a good deal. I would always recommend that you pay with Paypal Goods and Services, and if possible get a proof of purchase from the seller, just to protect yourself.
If you already have a sling or carrier that you are struggling with using, having a sling professional help you to optimise it may be the difference between shelling out for a new sling, or making the most of the one you have already spent money on.
If you only need a sling for a specific purpose or timeframe, such as a holiday, hiring can be a very economical way of doing this.
So, is a sling or carrier a waste of money?
Anything that you buy and don’t use will be a waste of money. By getting advice before buying a sling or carrier, you can ensure that it ends up being one of your most used pieces of “baby kit”, and fantastic value. And who can put a price on an item that could reduce crying by up to 43%? Look out for our next Blog to find out more!