Try and imagine that you’re a toddler / young child. You’ve had your parent(s) / caregivers all to yourself for your whole life. You’ve watched your mother’s body change, only really noticing it near the end of her pregnancy, and not really getting the whole ‘new-baby-that’s-here-forever’ thing.
Switch back to you, the mother / parent / caregiver. You and your little one have gone through so much together. You’ve grown together, loved together and cried together. You’ve cared for them, loved them, been their entire world. Now, you are all those things times two. Adjusting as a family and adapting to the changes can be challenging and exhilarating.
Then the new baby arrives. There’s still just one of you - just one of you to do all the things you did before, but now for two children, rather than just one.
Unfortunately, most of us don’t live in a way where we have extended family close by to help care for us in those early days. We have to do so much by ourselves; and, rightly or wrongly, we feel like we have to do it all ourselves too.
As such, there is so much space for negative feelings - guilt, inadequacy, failure. How on earth do you give your older child what they need whilst caring for your new baby?! We all struggle, in some way, with these feelings.
Thankfully, newborns and older siblings usually have different needs. Your newborn has very few needs, but of course they’re huge. They need food, they need to be comfortable, and they need to feel secure and close. Toddler’s and children’s needs, well they can change every second in a keeping-you-on-your-toes whirlwind of emotion and independence smooshed right up against vulnerability and regression.
This is where a sling becomes more than just a tool, more than just something you use; it helps you through the day. It helps you manage emotions, manage time, make a sandwich, or even just go to the toilet.
Why? Because you’re meeting one of your newborn’s primary needs by keeping them comfortable, close, secure and connected. Which means you have your hands free to deal with the ever-complex needs of an older child. It can be the difference between coping and not-coping. It can be the difference between simply getting through the day, and enjoying the day (or at least parts of it!). This has positive effects both on your children and you, and ultimately the family unit as a whole. It comprises 3 aspects - your mental health, your emotional well-being, and your physical health.
Your sling is a vital tool when baby has siblings. You can still do many of the things you always did - read a story, go for a walk, ride on the swings, play on the floor - your hands are free. Having a newborn is such a transitional time for any family, and a sling can help that transition run much more smoothly.
You can go anywhere together - the beach, forest, the shops, town, airport, or take the dog on a walk. You can do what you want as a family, together. This has a wonderfully positive impact on your family and on you.
Much love and happy baby carrying!