As a peer supporter at my local baby café I was in a position where I was very visible to many new parents. My babywearing an older child caught on and soon lots of parents were asking me about carriers. In 2012 I started a Facebook group and a sling meet, where people could talk about slings, show off their stash and eat cake.
When I was pregnant with my second baby in October 2012 I was moving away from peer supporting and I decided a library was needed. I contacted my most local library in Norwich and they put me in touch with the UK sling librarians group.
Without this support, I have no idea where I would have started. My local children’s centre provided a venue and a regular time slot, and I knew I would have lots of parental support.The biggest challenge for me was raising funds to buy slings before hiring. Firstly I contacted lots of local businesses and sling companies. Some were happy to offer me a donation towards carriers, and others provided raffle prizes for our grand opening.
The library and the meet, although both organised by me, are very different entities. The sling library is more formal, with signing in sheets, advice and demos, hiring and returning. The sling meet is much more informal; we usually go to a park, or walk along the beach or through town. There is always cake involved, and lots of admiring each other slings. What I like about the sling meet is that we are out in the public eye creating awareness of babywearing, it can be quite the head turner if there are many of us all in one place at once.
If you are interested in finding out more babywearing.co.uk/localsupport have a comprehensive interactive map where you can find your local library or sling meet. If you are thinking of starting up a meet or a library, I would get in contact with your nearest meet/library. There is a lot to be said for mums imparting their wisdom to other mums. If I can do it then anyone can.
GROUPS TO JOIN
Manchester Sling Library is run by a team of experienced babywearers, who founded Manchester’s first community babywearing group in 2006. They offer a comprehensive sling library, ideal for those wanting to try out different slings before buying. See slingingintherain.co.uk.
Badger Slings (badgerslings.co.uk) hold regular sling libraries in Harpendon and Watford for parents to hire out a carrier and get free advice and support. Members can take a look at the selection of carriers and slings they have in stock and hire ones of their choice.
Sarah May of Conwy Carriers in North Wales is a fully qualified Babywearing Consultant. She runs a Slingmeet every two weeks at the local RSBP reserve. (conwycarriers.co.uk)
The Isle of Man Sling Meet (iomslingmeet.com) is a free, informal gathering for people who are interested in carrying their child in a soft carrier or sling. A chance to chat with other babywearers, try slings out, get some advice or just share a cup of tea. They are open to all parents, parentsto-be and carers, whether you have a sling or not.
Andover Sling Library (pictured) meet up around once a week. Check dates and times on their comprehensive website.