Q WHICH SLING SHOULD I CHOOSE? Debi at slumber-roo.co.uk explains that there are six main styles to choose from – Pouch, Ring Sling, Wrap, Mei Tai, Soft Buckle Carrier & Hybrid Carrier (a combination of styles). A pouch sling is suitable from birth up to approximately 30lb. “It is a great starter sling,” says Debi. A ring sling is suitable from birth to approximately 35lb. “These are fabulous for breastfeeding in terms of back support and discretion,” she continues. There are numerous ways to tie and carry your baby in a traditional wrap and they provide back support for you and good weight distribution. A Mei Tai is used from 5 months to approx. 3 years/35lbs. There are various seated positions including back, front and hip. Soft carriers with buckles are suitable from birth or 5 months upwards, depending on brand. “This is a wonderfully versatile and supportive carrier,” says Debi “An excellent style for growing babes.” The new hybrid designs are mainly suitable from birth to 30-40lbs.
Q WHAT IS A MEI TAI? We asked Becky at joeyslings.co.uk for her expert opinion. “A Mei Tai is a carrier with a square or oblong body, with a long waist strap and two long shoulder straps. It is simple to use and easy to tie on your own.” When a Mei Tai is worn correctly, the baby’s knees are positioned higher than the bottom and their legs are spread at the hips, so they are actually in a ‘sitting’ position, promoting spine and hip development. A Mei Tai also has benefits for the adult. “It disperses the weight to your hips as well as your shoulders,” explains Becky.
Q BEST SLING FOR TRAVELLING? We asked reader, Lorraine Liyanage, for her advice. “A friend recommended I try the Ergo sling as the wide belt around the waist allowed for even weight distribution of the baby. After having struggled a couple of times with a pram I decided to go for the babywearing option full-time which was the best decision I ever made. The first time I travelled on the train with my daughter to Brighton was a truly liberating day. I found myself wandering around breastfeeding handsfree. There is also a pouch on the sling with room for nappies, wipes, my keys, wallet and baby food, so I rarely even take out an extra bag with me. I have recommended the Ergo to so many of my friends and they all love it too!”
Q HOW CAN I FIND OUT MORE? We asked Bethany Reynolds of dreampod-babycarriers.co.uk to share her knowledge. She recommended that parents who are interested in babywearing find a local Slingmeet. “This is a get together usually once a month where you can try out a whole host of slings and borrow them before you buy,” explains Bethany. “See slingmeet.co.u for your local meet. It’s not just for babies either; my friend still carries her four year old on her back and its much more comfortable than a piggyback.”
Q CAN I TRY BEFORE I BUY? Babywearing, or carrying your baby in a sling, is not a ‘one size fits all’ scenario so it’s understandable that you may want to try before you buy. Laura Summers at petitpoppet.co.uk has come up with a solution. Her online babywearing shop offers a trial service so you can be sure you are investing in the carrier that is right for both of you. “There are hundreds of sling styles and finding one that is comfortable for both you and your baby can be overwhelming and expensive,” says Laura. “However, for 15% of the price you can try out any one of the carriers in our store. We donate the hiring fee to SANDS (Stillbirth & Neonatal Death Society).”
Q BEST SLING FOR OLDER CHILDREN? Reader, Sarah Clark, started babywearing when her firstborn was ten months old. She now has three children, all of whom are occasionally or frequently carried. “For our three and five year old we use mostly woven wraps. The more supportive weaves (German style wovens like Didymos, Storchenwiege, or my personal favorite, Girasol) are the best wrap choices for carrying weight! It is also possible to find some very good Mei Tai styles designed for older children, with longer and wider body panels – or look at Onbuhimo or Podegi which are truly freesize. I don’t like structured styles myself but other parents report that they really come into their own with this age group, especially the Papatum, which comes sized up for toddlers.”
Q CAN I MAKE MY OWN? Of course you can! We asked Sarah Clark for her tips. “The first time I used a sling it was a home made wrap, cut out from a double bedsheet. Any wrap is basically just a really long piece of fabric and some tying knowhow. For basic hip carriers you will probably need around three metres, but for back and front wraps the standard size is between 4.5 and 5m. Width is usually about 75cm. Counter-intuitively, it takes more fabric length to wrap a younger baby as greater weights stretch the fabrics better. The best fabric choices are anything that gives a little when you pull it, but doesn’t stretch out. It’s possible to find all sorts of great patterns online too. Babywearers are a generous bunch with their expertise! The best patterns I’ve seen online are published by Jan Andrea at sleepingbaby.net
Q HOW CAN I KEEP MY BABY WARM? We love the range of Babylegs available at sasaslings.co.uk. These funky knitted leggings add an extra layer which provides great comfort for carried babies. One size fits most from small baby to six years up to the thigh and they are also great for children learning to dress themselves as they are so easy to pull on.
Q WHAT SLING FOR TWINS? Philippa de la Haye at Little Possums littlepossums.co.uk has heaps of babywearing experience and expertise. She says, “With newborn twins it’s possible to put both babies in one ring sling – there is a video clip showing this at mayawrap. com. You can also get two newborn twins in a wrap sling. With older twins, people tend to use two slings with one sling on each shoulder. You can do this with any ring sling or pouch sling.?Another option with older twins is to carry one on your front and one on your back either using wraps, soft structured carriers or a combination of the two.?Also parents of twins will often have one twin in a sling and the other in their arms around the house.”
Q WHICH SLING FOR NEWBORNS? Most ring slings, wraps and pouches are suitable from birth. Angela Mansfield at pouchlings.com says, “Babies can be carried in a sling as soon as they are born – in fact, the sooner the better as they will already be missing the warmth, movement and comfort of their mother’s womb. Using your sling will soon become second nature, although it might take a bit of practice to begin with to get it right. (It helps to start with a happy baby who is well-fed and well-rested!)”
Q I WANT A SLING THAT I CAN PACK Sarah at the Carrying Kind has put together a useful chart at thecarryingkind. com with information on carriers that are best for breastfeeding, small enough to pack up and carry and much more. She recommends knotted and pouch slings for easy transport.