I often get asked this question and had a discussion with a lady at the Mumpreuneur Conference who thought it would be helpful and much easier for a mum to be told which sling would be best.
I definitely prefer certain slings over others and if you asked on a forum which slings people preferred and why you would have as many different answers as people questioned!
So why don’t I give a nice, concise answer, hand a mum a sling and be on my way? There are probably better slings for certain circumstances but as a babywearing consultant it is not my job to specify which sling would be best.
These days there are so many people giving ’advice’ to parents , especially mothers. From doctors, health visitors, other parents and authors, it seems that everyone knows the best way for you to care for your baby. It’s so important for you to feel confident that you are the expert on your baby, your family and your situations. Plus a big lesson I have learnt on my (albeit short) parenting journey is the need for flexibility. Knowing that you may need to revise decisions you have made due to your baby’s or toddler’s needs, or because you have become more informed. ‘Never say Never’ is a good rule to follow.
So when it comes down to slings there are some main points to consider when choosing which one will suit you best and how to know if it is a good fit.
- The age and development of your baby – some slings and carriers are specifically designed for newborns and others for older babies.
- How you want to carry your baby – so are you just wanting to say, wear your baby on your hip or would you like something that has the flexibility of various carrying positions.
- Your own abilities, time and patience. Do you have the time or patience for a lot of practicing or are you looking for something that is quicker to get to grips with?
- How many people will be using the sling – some slings and carriers are more adjustable allowing people of different builds being able to use it comfortably.
- How long are you expecting to carry for? Some slings are more suited to young babies only and you will need to buy a different size as your baby grows – others will fit newborn to toddlers.
- Do you have any back problems or other health issues? You can still carry successfully but will need to consider this when choosing the most suitable type of sling.
- Price – always a consideration – although you can get some particularly cheap slings you do need to research manufacturing information – have they passed safety tests for example, what material are they made from, is it a reputable company.
The next consideration is to ensure the sling fits well (the following tends to be what I answer when asked if this is ‘a good sling’)
For baby you need to ensure that the sling/carrier:
- Supports the baby’s back
- Supports the thighs so they can sit in a ‘spread squat’ position
- Supports the baby’s neck
For you as the carrier you need to ensure that:
- The sling will adjust so the baby is carried high enough on your body (so you can kiss the top of the head just by bending your neck)
- You can see the babies face at all times (with a mirror if your baby is on your back) Basically it means that no material should cover the baby’s face at all, ever.
- That any straps are long enough, wide enough and/or padded enough to avoid giving you any discomfort. You should not feel any pain when carrying.