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Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Slings

Posted: Attachment Parenting » Babywearing/Slings | February 1st, 2004



From KangarooKorner.com

When can we start carrying our baby in a sling?
As soon as your baby is born is a great time to start. Many moms pack their slings as part of their hospital bags. Moms who birth at home tend to carry their babies when they’re only hours old. A baby fresh out of the womb loves the tight closeness, sounds, warmth, feel and movement of this familiar surrounding and feels insecure when isolated in a world of cribs, strollers and mechanical swings that hold the baby away from human contact. No baby is too young to be worn in a sling — preemies as small as three to four pounds have been worn in slings. In fact, wearing your young baby directly against your skin increases their weight gain during those early weeks and months.

Several styles of slings to choose from at the Balter Baby Company.

How old can my baby before he is too big to carry in a sling? Most babies are carried in arms for at least two years. The larger your child gets, the more strenuous it will be to hold him. So the larger your child, the more you physically need the assistance of a sling to distribute the weight evenly all over your torso. There are no age or weight limits on most carriers, at least as far as the durability of the sling is concerned. Most weight guidelines are based purely on what you can physically handle. Your child will outgrow his need to be carried before he’ll outgrow his sling (usually by 3 to 4 years of age).

Is this healthy for my back? The largest baby magazine in the United States compared the Over The Shoulder Baby Holder to the best traditional front- and backpacks and wrote, “Over the Shoulder Baby Holder … allows you to carry your baby in a variety of natural positions, including on your hip so you don’t strain or injure your back.” This holds true for most quality baby carriers. It’s crucial that whatever sling you choose holds your baby high up on your body, above your waist and stomach. If your baby is being carried lower down by your stomach and hips, you will experience lower back pain. When done correctly, wearing your baby in a sling is actually healthier for your body than carrying your body without the help of a sling.

Read our Baby Sling Reviews

Isn’t my baby squished up in there? His head looks crooked! Remember, your baby spent nine months in the womb upside down in a ball. It’s natural and comforting for him to be swaddled in his new “womb.” Don’t be afraid to simply lift and reposition him. For example, if his head is cocked, reposition him the same way you would if you were using your arms to hold him. In the cradle position, keep your baby shaped like a comma — it is more natural to them for their bodies to be slightly curved, rather than positioned with their arms and legs sticking out of different openings (as in some more popular front pack carriers, such as Baby Bjorn). When your baby is worn upright in the tummy-to-tummy position, remember to keep his legs comfortably tucked underneath his bottom, making sure they’re not twisted in an awkward direction.

Can the baby fall out of it? Most slings are designed with a hammock effect, which holds the baby securely. Parents in various cultures do daily strenuous work carrying their children in this fashion. As you become accustomed to wearing your baby, you will instinctively gain a feel for how secure the sling is and carry your baby all day in a carefree manner. Your baby is not “tied in.” When worn correctly, you’ll have very little fear of your baby’s falling out of the sling.

How do I nurse wearing the sling? Most moms find it easiest to nurse with their baby’s head at the breast opposite the shoulder over which the sling is being worn. It may be easiest to change the sling to the opposite shoulder to nurse the second breast. Many moms just turn the baby around inside the sling. Alternately, some moms choose to nurse in an upright, tummy-to-tummy position.

Book: Babywearing
by Maria Blois
Buy on Amazon.com
The book is a comprehensive resource about babywearing. Dr. Blois covers the history and benefits of attachment parenting and where baby wearing fits in. She describes in words and pictures ways to carry your baby. She includes reviews of various baby carriers - packs, pouches and slings - to allow you to make your own best choice.

How safe are the rings in your ring-style slings?The nylon rings are tested for several hundred pounds. The weight of the baby causes them to tighten much the way a seat belt tightens. The nylon is not affected by the temperature of washing or machine drying.

How safe are the snaps in the adjustable pouches? We only use high quality, durable nylon snaps. In our experience, having the sling come unsnapped when you don’t want it to in a non-issue. The snaps are difficult for adults to undo, let alone a child. Just make sure you keep them on your back rather than on your chest to reduce the possibility that your child may potentially unsnap them while being worn.

Are slings too hot? This is a very common question. Many slings are made with 100% cotton fabrics. This means that they are very breathable, unlike nylon or corduroy carriers. If the alternative to wearing a sling means carrying your child without a sling, you’ll be sweating from the extra exertion. You do not need to exert as much energy while wearing your child in a sling. As your baby gets older and is worn primarily in the hip-straddle position, heat isn’t as much of a concern because less of their body is confined inside the sling fabric. The fleece pouches are best used in temperatures under 85º F with low humidity. Solarveil Slings, cotton pouches, Rebozos and unpadded cotton slings are perfect for the warmest of climates.

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I have already tried using a sling, and neither of us liked it. Most mass-produced baby slings and other baby carriers are poorly designed. A lot of them are one-size-fits-all carriers, which most likely means it is too big for you and is probably causing a lot of back pain. Because of this, they’re typically very uncomfortable, and many people have negative experiences with them.

Reprinted with permission by KangarooKorner.com. Kangaroo Korner is a family-owned business located in Minneapolis, Minnesota, dedicated to promoting attachment through the use of baby slings.

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