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Carrying Your Baby Is Normal
Carrying a baby with a sling or carrier ('baby carrying' or 'babywearing') is practiced all around the world today. Humans have been carrying babies in slings throughout history.
Simply, our babies expect to be carried, and we are made to carry them. Carrying our babies is normal.
I took the photo above on a normal day, when we were doing normal, everyday things. Still, sometimes the depth of emotion involved catches me by surprise. Paying little attention to the baby in the sling, I caught a glimpse of us in the mirror. My breath caught in my chest. It was the hand. My heart burst with joy at the sight.
Your baby needs to be carried. Here's why:
Carrying your baby helps develop a secure mutual attachment.
It allows both parents, or indeed any caregiver, to develop a deep bond with baby.
It increases parental sensitivity to a baby's needs - you learn to interpret their noises and expressions so much quicker.
It simulates the sensations of pressure, motion, warmth and security of the womb.
Carrying your baby in a sling reduces their level of stress.
It can greatly reduce crying and fussiness, and also helps your tired baby fall asleep.
A sling or carrier is an absolutely necessary element in your parenting 'toolkit'. At the end of the day, it enables you to meet your baby's needs (all of them - emotional, psychological, physiological) whilst still having your hands free to do what you need to do.
It's liberating. It's empowering. It's wonderful. It's normal.
Carrying your baby in a sling is a beautiful way to bond and make a deep connection. It also enables you to get on with the everyday - whether it's UN-style negotiations with other children, or just a hot cup of tea, having your baby in a sling or carrier can make that all so much easier.
Carrying your baby or toddler in a sling is perfectly safe when practiced with common sense and understanding. As with all things in life a cupful of knowledge and a sprinkling of common sense is the best recipe to ensure happy carrying for you and your little one. Use a quality carrier and ensure you read the instructions on its use.
As a Trageschule UK and Slingababy trained Consultant, I can help answer any questions regarding sling safety that you have, and I'm always happy to help you on your carrying journey.
We promote slings and carriers that provide optimal comfort for your baby and for you. We stock slings and carriers that provide great support and the best possible positioning for your baby.
You can learn more about babywearing safety by checking out the T.I.C.K.S. Rules for Safe Babywearing, and the ABC guide courtesy of Babywearing International below:
Which Carrier Might Be Best For Me?
Which sling is best for me? Which sling should I choose? Ultimately, the best carrier for you is one that your little one and you both find comfortable. There are a few things to take into account. Help to narrow your choice down by considering:
The age of your baby.
Who will be using the sling.
You're on this website, and you're looking for information on carrying your baby, so it's clear your instincts are good . Allow them to guide you - what style catches your eye? - what seems like a good option for you, your little one, your whole family?
Choose a sling that you like - you're far more likely to use a sling or carrier that you love the look of. Whether it's a certain style, colour or pattern, choose the one you really love!
Check out our introductions to each style for the specifics of each: Stretchy Wraps, Ring Slings, Buckle Carriers, Woven Wraps and Mei Tais.
If you'd like more detailed advice, or you have a specific query, just ask. We love helping families to both start or continue their carrying journeys . Contact Us.
Stretchy wraps comprise one long piece of fabric (akin to t-shirt fabric) which is wrapped around your body and keep your little one secure, snug and close - the best place to be after nine months in utero!
Stretchy wraps are usually pre-tied. In other words, you tie it around you before welcoming baby in. The main advantage to this is that you can tie it on in the morning, and if you want to, keep it on all day - you can also have it tied before you go out. In this way, stretchy wraps can be a real sanity-saver in those first challenging and precious few weeks.
No buckles, rings or fasteners, just soft jersey fabric. Stretchy wraps allow baby to be welcomed in and out as desired, in different positions.
In general, most stretchy wraps are used for front carrying only, with baby being placed in an upright, tummy-to-tummy position. The JPMBB stretchy wraps can also be used to hip carry and back carry.
One size fits most wearers and stretchy wraps can be very comfortable, particularly post-natally. They're a great carrying option for newborns up to around 1 year and beyond if you wish.
Woven wraps are similar to stretchy wraps in that they comprise one long piece of fabric with no buckles, fasteners or rings. Woven wraps can be tied in different ways for different carries. They differ from stretchy wraps in that woven wrap fabric is far more supportive. It has a slight diagonal stretch, making it firmer - supportive enough to hold a heavy toddler.
Woven wraps can be tied for front, back and hip carries. If you've loved using a stretchy wrap for your baby, then a woven wrap will allow you to continue wrapping with a larger, heavier baby, toddler and child.
Woven wraps are incredibly versatile - depending on the length of the wrap, they can be used for many different carrying positions on the front, hip, and back and from newborn through to toddlers. On average, a 4.5-4.7m wrap will allow for most carrying positions.
There is a learning curve with wraps, however all come with detailed instructions, and we are always super-happy to advise and provide guidance on which wrap is best for you.
Woven wraps come in different sizes: Size 1 (2.2m); Size 2 (2.6m); Size 3 (3.2m); Size 4 (3.6m); Size 5 (4.2m); Size 6 (4.6m); Size 7 (5.2m); Size 8 (5.6m).
There are also lots of different wrap blends: 100% Cotton; Cotton / Silk; Cotton / Wool; Cotton / Hemp; Cotton / Linen; Cotton / Alpaca; Cotton / Cashmere; Cotton / Bamboo.
Ring slings are awesome; we love them! The woven wrap ring sling comprises a long piece of woven wrap fabric with 2 aluminium rings sewn into one end. The length usually ranges from 1.8m to 2m.
Ring slings are great for newborns and babies, but can also be especially useful with older babies / toddlers who are at the 'up and down' stage, as it is very quick and easy to place baby in and out of the ring sling, and they fold up nice and neat so can be carried with you.
There are 2 basic shoulder styles - gathered and pleated. Within both basic types there are variations.
The gathered style is more prevalent amongst woven wrap brands. It's exactly as it sounds - the fabric is sewn in a straight line from one side of the wrap to the other, creating a gathered shoulder. The depth at which the gather is sewn does vary widely.
The pleated shoulder varies a smidgeon more. The most popular pleats used are accordion and boxed pleats (although there are oodles more!!). Some pleats are softer than others, some narrower, some wider.
There are a few things to remember that will really help you adjust your ring sling really nicely:
Start with the rings placed higher on your shoulder, than where you want them to finish up.
Use the pouch to set the seat - call it a perch, a rope, a band, use it by setting it behind baby's knees, in a straight line from one knee to the other. This helps create that nice deep seat that you want.
Only walk just enough fabric up baby's back.
When adjusting the fabric (either up baby's back or through the rings), always try to lift baby's weight - imagine you're doing the robot dance - your arm is bent at the elbow so that your forearm is in a horizontal line and parallel with baby's bottom. Take baby's weight with your forearm (if you can!). Supporting baby's weight in this way will take the pressure off the fabric in the rings, thus allowing the fabric to move through them easier.
Always work any excess fabric towards the rings. Adjust the excess fabric through the rings in as horizontal a motion as possible - going in the direction the fabric has come from. It will adjust with greater ease.
The basic design of a Meh Dai is a main panel with two pairs of straps. One pair ties ties around the waist, securing with a knot, and the other pair, sits on the shoulders and crosses on the wearers back then around baby, distributing the weight evenly across the shoulders, back and hips.
It is very simple in design, yet very supportive in style. Once again, there are no buckles, or rings, just fabric, and sometimes padding in the shoulder and waist straps for extra support. They can be used for front, hip and back carries, and most can be used from newborn through to toddlerhood and beyond.
They are an awesome option if you'd like a little more structure for ease of use, but want something mouldable, soft and wrap-like.
There are lots of variations between the brands. Some have wrap-strap shoulders, some have padded shoulder straps and waist straps, some even have a combination of both.
Soft Structured or buckle carriers are versatile and relatively easy to learn. The basic design is a front panel, a padded waist strap and two padded shoulder straps, all of which are adjustable to achieve a comfortable fit, and secure with buckles.
Buckle Carriers can be supportive and baby can be worn on the front or back, sometimes on the hip too. Buckle carriers are probably the most popular design of carriers. Some buckle carriers can be used from newborn, some can be used from 3-4 months upwards.
With some designs, the shoulder straps can cross on the back to provide extra support.
How To Care For Baby Carriers
Each manufacturer has their own specific guidelines for washing and care instructions. Do read the care guidelines that come with your carrier. Some wraps that are made of silk, wool, alpaca, or cashmere, will require particular attention.
As a general guide, we definitely suggest washing your carrier / wrap / sling as seldom as possible. Spot clean any marks if you can. We always suggest using an eco detergent, always non-biological, and no softener. When washing a ring sling, it's a great idea to put it in a pillowcase first - this will protect the drum your washing machine from being damaged by the rings of the sling.
Air-dry your sling, either indoors or out. If line-drying, pop a sock between the peg and the wrap / sling to prevent peg marks.
What To Do When It's Warm Or Cold
Carrying your baby when it's particularly warm or cold requires a bit of thought. Always be aware of and responsive to your baby's needs for safety and comfort. You should always refer to the TICKS safe babywearing guidelines.
In warm and cold weather remember:
One layer of sling is equal to one layer of clothing. Even when it's cold, you don't need to bundle baby up in a snowsuit-type outfit. There is a natural heat exchange between you and baby which will help keep baby warm.
Cover / protect head, feet, legs and hands.
Choose comfortable, light clothing, preferably made from natural fibres.
-Carry baby as close to you as possible, with as few layers between you as possible.
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