Maternity leave comes with many long walks and prams are not always the best options, especially in the countryside.
If you have decided you would like to carry your baby in a sling, you may feel overwhelmed by all the different options and have no idea where to start. There are so many brands to choose from, so many different sling types, at a considerable price range.
A sling is not a modern invention by any means. Families worldwide have carried there babies in some form or another for centuries, providing their baby with the closeness and comfort they require to thrive while having their hands free to go about their day as they wish and need to.
I thought I’d give you some pointers to help figure out what you might be looking for before investing. Here are my top five tips for getting started with carrying.
Think about what you need from a sling.
Before diving in to look at brands and types of sling, think of what your needs are:
- What is the age of your baby?
- Are you looking to front, hip or back-carry?
- Do you have a preference for buckled carrier or a wrap?
- Are you planning to do long walks, or is it for around the house?
- Do you want something that will last into toddlerhood?
- Are there any medical conditions that could affect carrying for either baby or yourself?
Once you’ve thought about these things, you will find the next few steps more straightforward.
Have a budget in mind.
There are a lot of brands of sling available on the market with a variety of price ranges. Much like clothing, pricing is complex and can be simply due to the brand, but may also reflect the quality or sustainability of the materials used. Price does not equate to suitability, so it’s worth shopping around.
There are quite a few big brands that come to mind when buying a sling, but many fantastic small, independent brands produce some unique slings of all types; buckle carriers, ring-slings, and wraps name but a few.
It’s also worth noting how active the second-hand market is, there are Facebook groups dedicated to selling slings, and you can often get a great quality item at a reduced cost.
Consider seeking out some support.
Slings are like jeans; they are not one size fits all! It can take a few tries to find the one that suits you and your family. A great way to find the right sling for you is to visit or access your local Sling Library where you can try or hire slings to try them before you invest and have some support from an experienced baby-wearer to ensure the sling fits you and your baby comfortably.
Lots of Sling Libraries and Consultants like myself are offering online consultations, and postal or doorstep hires.
Seeking a consultant’s help is particularly beneficial if any medical conditions may affect carrying for either yourself or your baby. They will use their experience and knowledge to help you find a suitable option for your circumstances.
You can find your local Sling Library here.
Consider the weather.
Quite often families buy a sling and then feel concerned about using it because they don’t know how to dress themselves or baby. It may help think of the sling as an extra layer of clothing, possibly more than one with thicker carriers or stretchy wraps. That will help you to dress baby accordingly. Layering is the key as it’s easier to take layers off yourself or put more on when carrying than on or off baby once they are settled in the sling.
Various rain and cold weather covers on the market that can attach to the sling or your coat. Another option is to wear an oversized coat that will do up over you and your baby.
See an excellent rain cover hack using a baby raincoat here.
Trust yourself and enjoy it.
Once you’ve done your research, found some support, have your sling and are ready to go, trust that you know what is best for your baby. Carry them for comfort, carry them to get you all outdoors, carry them because they love it. Carry them because you love it. Carry them because we always have in one form or another, carry them to have your hands free to make that cup of coffee.
Ellen Tristram is a founder, Sling and Carrying Consultant at Wraps Around Us. She supports families to confidently carry their babies using slings and help them navigate the many types of carriers there are to choose from. She provides 1:1 in-person and online consultations, deliver online courses and workshops and retail various brands. You can find Ellen on Instagram.