Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Wearable Wednesday: The Sling

The sling is considered one of the simplest, "beginner" carriers of them all, so I figured I'd start with it.  I'd like to start off with a disclaimer:  There have been a few mass-produced slings in the past few years that have been recalled and made a bad name for babycarriers in general.  They are NOT considered slings and never have been by the babywearing community!  They look like huge puffy bags that you drop a baby into and hope for the best.  Like I've said in the past, a carrier needs to keep baby's face from tilting down into her chest and it must also keep baby close enough to kiss.  This sling doesn't do that, and it's heartbreaking what happened because of it.  But don't fear--not all slings are bad!  In fact, most are seriously amazing!!!!  So I'll be talking about the other 99% and giving you an idea of the uses and child ages that go (in my opinion, of course) best with this carrier.
My daughter's first trip outside!
Slings are excellent for all ages, ranging from newborn to toddler.  As the child gets larger, he is positioned differently in the sling, and it does tend to get heavy on the shoulder.  For that reason, it is generally suggested that the wearer change shoulders regularly when carrying an older one.  But with a wee one, the shoulder shouldn't get too tired and it is mostly just a sweet snuggle feel the entire time!

A newborn carry is basically like the photo above.  The sling is fully adjustable by means of two rings (hence the term "ring sling") lacing the fabric over and through each other.  As you pull sides of the fabric, it tightens each end.  With a bit of learning, one can figure out how to make it looser on one side or tighter on the other in a few simple tugs.  I personally preferred a different carrier in the beginning, because I felt a bit like I was constantly touching and checking baby in a sling.  But then, it could have also been because I was a nervous first-time mother!  I know many a mom who prefers this carrier and one of the great benefits it has--the ability to breastfeed simply and discreetly without removing baby.  Simply lower one side of the carrier, undo nursing top, and voila!

As baby gains neck and then back strength, she can be placed upright in the sling and carried on the hip.  This carry is ideal for a few different occasions:  Going in and out of shops airport trips, grocery stores, etc.  The reason that it works so well is because of ease of use.  It's takes up little space and can be carried in most bags, and it is incredibly easy to take on and off.  I used it on basically every airport trip we took for her first year!  Another great aspect of this carry is that it mimics the hip hold that baby is used to from mama already, so it is an excellent way to get baby down for a nap.  He won't suspect a thing since it's a normal position, and once he passes out he's already supported.  Score!

Finally, this is a very versatile carrier style-wise.  There are literally hundreds of styles, fabrics, and designs you can choose from when looking to buy.  They are made in UV protected waterproof fabric for the pool, stretch cotton for snuggling newborns, fleece-lined for winter, and even embellished silk for formal events.  No matter where you plan on going, you can surely find a sling for the event!

So basically, after all my random drivel above (yes, I'm still mostly decaffienated, can you tell?), I'll offer you a simple list of pros, cons, and best uses.

Easy to take on/off
Can be used from infancy to toddlerhood
Light and compact
Can wear during breastfeeding
Tons of different fabrics for all occasions

Not completely hands-free
Heavier children need to be shoulder-swapped
Not as easy to adjust as something with straps

Best Uses
Short outings
Formal events

My Favorite Brands (totally opinion-based!)
Maya Wrap
Sakura Bloom

For more awesome information on ring sling carries, positioning, safety, and troubleshooting, go HERE.

Any questions?  If you have a sling, tell us what your favorite brands and uses are and/or why you love it.  Next time, I'll be talking about wraps, yippee!!

1 comment:

  1. I LOVE my Maya wrap! It was my favorite all-around sling. Was the only brand I tried though. Just loved it so much, although we didn't do much of the newborn carry. We kinda went straight to upright. I just was more comfortable that way and made me worry way less about proper positioning.