Choosing a Sling
Slingtastic was set up to help you find the right sling for you and your child. We run workshops on most Wednesdays and some Mondays to help people choose and use slings, offer one-to-one consultations out of shop opening hours and are happy to help people try slings in store when we are not too busy with other customers. We have a demonstration version of every sling we sell so that you can try before you buy. We are always happy to answer questions and give advice via e-mail (email@example.com) and the telephone too (07825442 110).
If you are unable to come to the shop, look up to see if there are any slingmeets in your local area where you can talk through your needs with other parents who already have slings and will be happy to talk to you about their choices and there may well be popular brands of slings to try there too.
Before buying or even going to try slings, consider all the points below....
Choosing a Sling
Choosing a sling can take a long time - but will be quicker if you ask yourself the following questions:
Where and when do you think you will be using your sling the most?
If you are only looking for something to use for up to an hour at a time in the house, in and out of the car, popping to the shops etc., many people choose a ring sling or a stretchy wrap (most stretchies are best for babies up to about 6 mths although they can be used for longer).
If you are looking for something for long walks or for carrying for longer periods of time, you may want to look at a buckle carrier with a waist strap, a wrap or a mei tai; but a stretchy wrap is also ideal for this when your baby is up to about 6/7months. These distribute the weight all around your torso.
What position do you want to be carrying your baby in now and in the future?
Different carriers are good at different carrying positions - no one carrier really does them all brilliantly. You may find that it is worth getting 2 different style of carrier for use at different times. Remember that they will last for years!
Hip carries: Ring Slings, Pouches and Hip Carriers
Front facing in: Wraps, Ring Slings (for up to 6 mths), Buckle Carriers, Mei Tais.
Back Carries: A Mei Tai, a Buckle Carrier or a Woven Wrap. You will see people carrying very young babies on their backs, but we recommend you wait until your baby is at least 7/8 months old so you can feel confident that he/she is safe and you can check on them safely at all times. We do not sell the backpack style carriers as they hold the baby/child up and away from your body and centre of gravity which makes carrying harder - and these carriers also weigh a lot more than a sling type carrier.
A ring sling can also be used for a quick back carry.
Front facing out: Beco Gemini - (buckle carrier) and Pao Papoose (buckle carrier)
Front facing out is contentious as it is not ever an optimum position for the baby's body or yours. The physics of it for the adult make it less comfortable tahn other positions, and it is hard to really support the baby's back as well as in other positions and get the ideal "M" position with the baby's knees higher than the bottom. It can also only be used for babies who have strong head control - so from about 5 months.
However some babies love it for short periods of time so it can be a good short term option for some. Babies can get scared or over-stimulated and are unable to turn their face away from the world and into the adult as they would naturally want to: which is another reason why it is important to make sure the baby is not facing out for long.
Who else will be using the sling? No, REALLY - who else will actually definitely be using it .....?
Many people compromise on their sling choice because they are hoping their partner will use it so they get something that is not exactly what they really want themselves.
If you are not 100% convinced that your partner will use it, buy it just for YOU - then you can love your sling. Remember too that what suits one adult does not always feel comfortable for another. If they get caught up with the idea they can always buy another ......!
Breastfeeding in a Sling
Lots of people look for a sling they can breastfeed in - I spent many years looking too. Many manufacturers sell their slings with the assurance that you can breastfeed in them. It is possible to use a sling as an aid to breastfeeding, but it is important to get breastfeeding established, get your sling use established, and then look at ways of combining the two.
The main points to be aware of are:
Breastfeeding in a sling is not a hands free thing with young babies. It is always going to be necessary to stop and focus on your baby when breastfeeding, as with younger babies as you will need to be certain that your baby is able to breathe easily. For a sling to be comfortable, safe and supportive it needs to be tight enough to have no loose fabric when you press the baby into you. When it is this tight, a feeding baby would not be able to move his/her head off the breast as is needed.
Some slings are better than others to help you breastfeed discreetly or just to help support your baby when you are out and about and you want to stop and feed. A ring sling is ideal for this as you can sit down, loosen the rings and fabric and easily get your baby into a position for feeding. It is also easier to adjust your clothes for access to the breasts when the sling is loose.
A stretchy wrap can also be loosened in this way and you can take your baby out and use the crossed passes to form a supportive hammock for your baby's body, whilst gently supporting the baby's head with your hand.
Feeding with a buckle carrier is possible - the sling needs to be loosened and you will need to be wearing a top that allows access to the breast from the top unless you want to hitch up clothes from within the waist band. A cowl necked purpose-made breastfeeding top is good for this.
Bottle Feeding in a Sling:
Many of the points above clearly apply to bottle fed babies as well. There are some positions that may facilitate bottle feeding more easily, such as babies in a seated sideways position in a stretchy wrap or ring sling. As with all these things, follow your babies cues, and check that he or she has enough space and support to move his/her head freely and that the sling is not so tight that there is pressure on a filling tummy.
As with all baby products, slings must be safe and regularly checked before use. Please click here for safety advice