Before I got pregnant, I had never even heard of the term “babywearing”. I planned on buying a 3 in 1 travel system that converted pram to pushchair and that would suffice for baby’s travel needs until he could walk.
I hadn’t appreciated the need for a carrier or sling. I’d only seen a Baby Bjorn and I didn’t like the look of them, they looked particularly uncomfortable on little legs.
My aunt had told me about Oscha Slings, how pretty and glamorous they looked, particularly ring slings. I was intrigued. I had noticed that a friend’s instagram was full of photos wearing different carriers so I asked for her advice. She recommended my local sling library: Mumaroo.
What is a sling library?
A sling library is a service from which you can hire different types of baby carriers and slings, depending on your needs and baby’s age. Mumaroo recommended a stretchy wrap for newborns so that was the one I tried first and at 38 weeks pregnant I collected a boba wrap from the local library.
Xander was probably only ten days old before I attempted to wear him in it. I had an important telephone call to make and he started fussing so I popped him in it. Within minutes he was asleep. I loved how cosy and comfortable he was. What I didn’t like was how hot I felt whilst wearing it as it was rather thick and passed over three times to support him.
If you can’t handle the heat…
I hired it for a further month in which I only wore it once for a few minutes. I just couldn’t handle the heat! I took it back to the library and asked to try a ring sling. From that first wear I absolutely loved it. Xander snugged up and fell asleep within minutes, staying that way for a further hour as I sauntered around the library smiling at how his little tush was “made for a ring sling”. I hired one for a month and wore it a lot before investing in my own. I hired a Neko sling which was 100% cotton, very cool and supportive. I had been searching for one I liked the design of and I just kept coming back to Oscha. Their Middle Earth collection is just stunning, particularly the Doors of Durrin Mellon – the elvish word for Friend! I love the films and my inner geek was secretly pleased that it was such a glorious design.
The ring sling was a revolution! Short journeys, for example from the car into baby class, a walk of say 400 steps is now a breeze. I can walk the dogs on my own, which they must love without having to steer themselves around the pram wheels. It’s much cooler to wear, easy to put on and adjust.
Babywearing hasn’t replaced the pram for me, as I had wanted the pram of my dreams nearly as long as I had wanted the baby who would lie in it. But my top reasons for babywearing are:
- Freedom – babywearing frees up your arms, allowing you to cook, get jobs done around the house, apply make up, do your hair etc.
- It’s quicker – one thing you are short of as a new mum is time. It’s much easier to pop baby into a sling than it is to get the car seat out, get the wheels out etc.
- It get’s you closer to bubba – baby sling snuggles are the best. It also brings bubba closer to you and if your little one likes to be up seeing the world this is a great piece of kit.
- Slings are all year round – for prams you need different blankets, footmuffs, this nest, that hood etc. With a sling woven from a suitable fabric you can use it year round. 100% cotton is a good all rounder but a wool blend is also a good choice as its breathable and moisture wicking properties make it cool in summer and warm in winter.
- You can match your sling to your outfit – ok so this one is excessive, but it’s true! If you join a sling library you can change your hire each time to try different colours. I went for a black and peacock blue/teal ring sling which matches my favourite pashmina perfectly… so naturally everything else I buy now matches those too. Bespoke teething necklace anyone?
- It’s a community – a sling library will introduce you to lots of new mums who will become great friends and allies.
- Toilet trips – not a subject anyone particularly wants to talk about but it seems when you become a mum you have a wide spectrum of toilet cubicles. Some are generous and must have been designed by a mum…you can fit the pram in as well as yourself, taking care of your own needs as well as the nappy. Some are horrendous – you are expected to either leave baby outside in his pram while you toilet, which obviously no mum does, or be acccompanied by a family member or friend to leave baby with all of the time? Perhaps these cubicle designers think that SMP stretches to cover the appointment of an au pair to take care of this? No… sling away! Keeping baby in a sling means you can go to any toilet if you’re out just you and baby and you gotta go. Just make sure if you do this – you don’t wear an all in one jumpsuit under the sling. This recently happened to a friend and her facebook status was hilarious.
- It makes airline travel easier – ok so I am yet to try this out, but it means I have no need for my pushchair at the airport. I can bag it in its travel pack and check it in. This hopefully means it will arrive safely in one piece at the other end. It also leaves me hands free for security and duty free. Big thumbs up.
- It keeps baby close – I loved keeping Xander close to me in the early days but there were times when I really wanted him close.. baby wearing means people are less likely to come up and try to grab the baby from you.
- You can breastfeed at the same time! I have only successfully managed to do this in public once – in a cemetery, yesterday as it happens. I visited my maternal grandma’s grave to put flowers on and Xander was crabby. I managed to loosen the sling just a little and adjust him so he could feed in the koala position. I used the tail of the sling to wrap over his head like a hood. Win Win.
- Babywearing is inclusive… everyone and anyone can do it. Regardless of size, shape, height etc, there is a babywearing option for you. Post baby I’m a size 20-22 and I can easily wear a stretchy, a woven wrap (size 7), a ring sling and I’ve tried both the Boba buckle carrier plus the WeMadeMe Smile Sling. I don’t like wearing things tight on my middle due to my gastric bypass scars but all of the above have been comfy.
Babywearing isn’t for everyone but chances are given the chance to try different slings and carriers you will find something that works for you. Try finding your local library before you commit to buy.
Do you babywear? What’s your favourite carrier/hold/babywearing tip? Comment below.