After J was born, a couple of the mums I had made friends with on bounty were babywearing and saying how good it was. Then there was me, I had already brought a baby carrier and sling , hubby used the baby carrier a handful of times and I used the sling once or twice, but wouldn’t have really called it babywearing. They mostly lived in their box and bag on a shelf. I sold them a few years later being hardly used.
Part of the reluctance on my behalf to use it, was possibly lack of understanding and having such a tiny baby , I was scared he would fall out of it ! Silly I know
Then when I was pregnant with R, the internal debate over baby wearing sparked again which was prompted by some information attached to my pregnancy notes.
Was it for me?
I decided to get my keyboard working and googled about it, and oh my! it was a minefield of debate, and seemed not to be far behind the intensity of the Breast/Formula feeding debate
After doing all the research I could manage on the pros and cons (its very opinionated out in the web ether!), I decided I wanted to at least give it a try. As I analyse everything, studies seem to suggest the positive aspects outweighed any unknowns or negatives, therefore my internal rationale was that so if it wasn’t for me, I could at least say that I gave it a go.
Some of the benefits that appealed were;
- A happier baby – who wouldnt want that ?
- I can get this done when she wants to be held.
- I could feed R while on the go.
- Hands free to do things with J.
- Being able to do shopping with a basket or trolley.
Choosing a Carrier – again another minefield!
There is so many types of carriers and at such a varying cost.
Firstly lets cover the types. I needed to consider what type was best and what I would get most benefit in trying out. Did I want structured, stretchy,woven,ring, tied, buckles ? The list of options for the type was hard enough, then comes the real clincher for me, which one would actually fit, being a larger lady. How would you know?
Sling libraries to help you decide.
Luckily in a lot of areas in the UK there are sling libraries – you can see if there is one near you here.
You can try slings to see what works for you and even hire some to take a try before you buy one, and this aspect is particularly good as baby carriers can be quite expensive.
When I looked at the cost of slings, it varied from £9.99 to £95.00 and this was no means at the top end of baby carriers. You could buy them from so many places, from the high street shops to eBay and Amazon. With prices so different even for the same type, using a sling library can really help you decide and your purse will thank you!
I chose a stretchy sling from a lovely local company Sa-Be Baby Carriers. I decided on this type because of the different positions you can carry your baby in and being a larger lady with damage to my back it was a comfortable way to carry. I will be writing a review on the sling itself very shortly.
Using the Sling
Like with everything, there are right ways and wrong ways to use things, and safety of your baby and you to consider. As obvious as it sounds I wholeheartedly recommend reading the instructions and practice putting it on before putting your baby in..
Now on a safety element there is one crucial element that needs to be considered its T.I.C.K.S
- Tight –the sling should hold your baby tightly but gently against you
- In View – You must always be able to see your baby’s face, it must never be covered or in danger of being covered by any fabric
- Close enough to kiss – When being carried in the sling it is important that your child is close enough to kiss, you should be able to bend down and kiss them at any time
- Keep chin up –When being carried in a sling a baby’s head should never be slouching down so their chin is forced against their chest, this can be dangerous and make it difficult to breathe.
- Support – When riding in a sling a baby’s head should never be slouching down so their chin is forced against their chest, this can be dangerous and make it difficult to breathe.
So the trick was to get confident in tieing the sling and and insuring T.I.C.K.S was met, which resulted in a safe and comfortable baby
How have I found it ?
In one word ‘Lifesaver’, and to explain this …
R has reflux, had a tongue tie that was diagnosed at 6 weeks and doesn’t like to part with her wind. She is also one of these babies who hates the car seat and traveling in the car.
Once I could drive again, going in the car was like playing Russian roulette of screaming but with the odds for increased dramatically. Then there was the pram, she hated laying on her back because of the reflux so going out in general was like a 1 baby screamathon. So I didn’t go out, apart from the necessary school runs and hospital appointments ,she even screamed no stop for nearly an hour as I drove to the hospital for a postnatal appointment! ( she has some stamina there ! )
Staying in, cause hearing her scream and not being able to help broke my heart was only thing I could do but that made me feel very isolated.
So out came the sling!
The sling couldn’t help with car journeys obviously , but reflux meds have helped reduce the screaming, the odds are now in happy baby favour as long as car is moving ! Traffic is another story ..
But I can now do housework, shop, do the school run, go to the park with J, meet up with friends and take J to places. I feel liberated.
Now previously I mentioned the benefits that drove me to decide to try babywearing, now to go back and see how I found it.
- A happier baby – Defininatly acheived this. She loves being close to me and goes off to sleep quite easy when walking or shopping. In the times shes awake and wants to look around, shes able to do this while still facing me, it also helped her part with her wind!
- I can get things done when she wants to be held – Again a success. I have found I can get a bit of dreaded housework done ( with exception of being able to pick things up on the floor but feel this is partly down to my mobility limitations), doing my hair, sorting things out for J and just general things I struggled with when J was younger.
- I could feed R while on the go – I am going to claim this as a partial success. I think the partial is down to me getting used to it and doing it more. I have had to feed R when there was no where to sit, like shopping in Aldi, which I was able to do using the main support band loop albeit a bit clumsly but will keep practicing.
- Hands free to do things with J– A massive YES! J is such a lively child, wanting to be on the go and excitement hinders the little sense of danger he has generally. So having a hands free to hold his hand means more outings I can do with him not being anxious I wont be able to grab him if needed. I can play with him even with lego while keeping R happy and help him with putting shoes on or opening things. So this was a big tick giving me 2 happy kids
- Being able to do shopping with a basket or trolley – This was a big one, I used to struggle when J was a baby and never quite got used to steering a pram or pushchair and holding a basket at the same time. There there is the Trolley, this was another big issue. Being too short to use the car seat trolleys and not crash into anything and J didnt like the ones with baby seats on, so shopping in general was a nightmare. The sling has solved both issues for me instantly.
So this sounds positive , what about the negative side ?
- A bit hot – The main negitive I found is it can get a bit hot babywearing. I know I can change carriers to help with that but haven’t yet changed
- Backpain – Now I thought before getting the sling that this could be an issue. I already have damage to my lower back, and although it didnt increase this pain, it was only slightly so far, and not really any different to carrying her. So comparing the backpain against using a pram/pushchair, it increses a little but not enough to be anything of significance yet.
What about things people say babywearing causes? So I can’t say anything about babywearing causing a clingy baby, or them not settling on there own, ( I’m not going to mention the spoiling a baby as I don’t believe you can regardless) only time will tell as shes only 14 weeks. Though so far shes sleeps in a bed on her own and go to other people. I will update this as she gets older.
Overall I have to say, I have unexpectedly have fallen inlove with babywearing! The benefits have definintaly outweighed any negitives for me.
If your thinking of trying it, what have you got to lose?