For centuries, baby wearing has been used by parents to keep their little ones close and safe from harm, while allowing them to move freely and engage in many everyday tasks.
Today, we have all manner of travel systems, baby chairs, pods and cradles to keep baby safe and close by. But there is still nothing to beat that lovely feeling of having baby snuggled up against you. As long as safety is kept first and foremost, this is a wonderful way to bond with your baby.
Here are just some of the benefits of baby wearing:
Kisses and cuddles
One of the safety guidelines for baby wearing is that they should be ‘close enough to kiss’ when in their sling. This means easy access to your little one for lots of contact. Who can resist that unique baby smell when they are so close?
It’s so helpful to be able to have your hands free, as every busy parent will know. Especially if you have an energetic older child to wrangle! You can accomplish many daily tasks while wearing your little one. Just remember to never do anything you wouldn’t normally do if you were holding a baby.
It’s not easy dragging a buggy onto public transport or up and down steps. This is where baby wearing really comes into its own. It’s so freeing to walk out the door with just your changing bag and baby on your chest.
Plenty of choice
There are so many different types of slings, from stretchy wrap, woven wrap, ring sling, mei tai, to more modern Soft Structured Carriers (SSC) like ClevaMama’s Hip Healthy Baby Carrier. You can even buy clothing with kangaroo-like pouches to pop your little one into. Whichever style you choose, it’s important to always make sure these are properly fitted and will continue to support your little one’s weight as they grow. Slings can be bought in a wide range of colours and styles and, as they get softer with use, don’t depreciate in value.
Try before you buy
If you are on a budget, or are unsure what type of sling will suit you best, you can avail of a sling library (yes, it’s a thing!). For a small fee, you can rent out a sling for a couple of weeks to see if it’s the right one for you. Covid-19 restrictions apply but you can organize an online consultation if needed.
Rent or buy slings here:
Ireland – Babywearing Ireland
UK – Babywearing UK
NL – Slingomama
Ever heard of a sling meet? Well now you have. This is where parents who babywear can meet and share tips, advice and their own experiences. These can sometimes also have babywearing experts in attendance. Is your baby not taking to the sling? Do you need help with wrapping techniques? Or do you just want to meet other babywearing parents? Sling meet! Most of these currently take place online but it’s a great way to reach out and make friends. Remember, ‘it takes a village to raise a child’.
Baby wearing safety tips (TICKS)
Safety is of paramount importance when it comes to babywearing. It’s always important to make sure your sling/carrier is the proper fit so your little one is comfortable and able to breathe. Ensure you are wearing the sling/carrier properly so you don’t end up with backache.
Here are the TICKS guidelines for Safe Babywearing devised by the UK Sling Manufacturers & Retailers Consortium.
T: Tight – Ensure that your sling/carrier is tight enough to hug your baby close. Loose fabric can cause baby to slump down, making breathing difficult and can pull on your back.
I: In View At All Times – Make sure you can always see your baby’s face with a downward glance. If you have to open the fabric to check on your baby, they are not correctly placed.
C: Close Enough To Kiss – You should be able to kiss your baby easily by tipping your head forward. Make sure the top of your baby’s head is close to your chin.
K: Keep chin off the chest – Make sure your baby’s chin isn’t pushed on to your chest as this can restrict their breathing. Always ensure there is at least a finger’s width of space under your chin.
S: Supported Back – In an upright carrier, your baby’s back should be supported and their tummy and chest are against you. A loose sling can cause baby to slump which can cause breathing difficulty. For a cradle carry, your baby should be placed with their bottom in the deepest part so the sling doesn’t fold them in half and press their knees to their chest.
By following these guidelines and ensuring a proper fit, baby wearing can be a great tool for parents and a wonderful bonding experience too.
Next article: Top Self-Care Tips For New Mums
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