Ah yes, the baby carrier sling – humankind’s greatest invention since the wheel. For thousands of years, parents have wrapped their progeny in slings and carriers to keep them close while leaving their hands free for other tasks. But thanks to modern ergonomic designs and trendy fabrics, babywearing has evolved into a high-tech parenting art form. So strap in (literally) as we delve into the wonderful world of slinging your spawn!
Benefits of Using a Baby Carrier Sling
Baby carrier slings provide a variety of benefits that will make you want to sling your baby 24/7 like a kangaroo (do kangaroos get sore backs? We’ll have to consult an Aussie). Slinging your bub gives you that sweet, sweet hands-free mobility to multitask like a boss while keeping your baby snuggled close. Babies dig that closeness too, so slings can reduce fussiness and crying by being all cozy on mama or daddy. And since slinging trims down the need for strollers and carriers, it’s an eco-friendly choice! Sling away, save the planet!
Different Types of Baby Carrier Slings
When it comes to sling styles, you’ve got options up the wazoo.
- Wrap Slings
Wrap slings are long pieces of fabric you tie yourself t o customize the fit – so stylish but involved, like the perfect fishtail braid. These involve wrapping, tying, and adjusting the fabric to get the right fit for you and baby. This allows for more versatility but requires more effort.
- Ring Slings
Ring slings are pouches with rings you slide fabric through to adjust – easy peasy for on-the-go parents! These have built-in rings that make it simple to tighten or loosen the sling to your needs. The simplicity makes them easy to use on-the-go.
- Pouch Slings
Pouch slings are shaped baby holders you pop your kid into – avoiding all that pesky wrapping. These are pre-fabricated baby carriers that you simply place your baby into, without having to fuss with tying or adjusting. Convenience is the main perk.
- Soft Structured Carriers
Soft structured carriers offer more support with padded straps and buckles – the SUVs of the sling world. These use buckles, straps and padding to provide a more secure and ergonomic babywearing experience. The added features lend comfort and support.
- Mei Tais
Mei Tais originated as Asian-style baby carriers with four straps attached to a large rectangular fabric piece. The straps tie on for each use, allowing wearers to customize the fit. Mei Tais can accommodate babies from newborn through toddler years and allow for front, back and hip carries. They distribute weight well but require practice to learn the tying techniques.
Features to Look for in a Baby Carrier Sling
Okay, you’ve got wrapping, rings, pouches and padding to consider. How’s a parent to choose? Here are the key features to look for in a baby sling:
- Fabric – Go for soft, breathable natural fibers like cotton to keep baby comfy. Spandex adds stretch and support. And sleek high-tech fabrics can mean easier cleaning when your kid has a blowout.
- Adjustability – Slings should adjust to fit your body and to position baby in different carries and positions. Look for multiple settings and easy tightening/loosening features.
- Padding – Extra padding in slings provides ergonomic neck, shoulder and back support. Lack of padding gives more of an old-school babywearing experience. Your aching back or shoulders will tell you which you prefer.
- Safety – Only use slings made specifically for babywearing that allow you to monitor baby’s breathing and have features to properly support their head, neck and spine. No makeshift slinging in grandma’s tablecloth!
How to Choose the Right Sling for Your Baby’s Age and Size
Picking the perfect sling depends on your babe’s age, size and abilities. Newborn babies do best in pouches and wraps that cradle their wee floppy heads and bodies. As they gain head control, try soft structured carriers and slings that allow forward-facing and back carry positions. Make sure to follow weight limits and adjust for baby’s growth. And pro tip: buy a few different sling types because as Taylor Swift says, baby’s gonna change her mind every five seconds about what she likes!
Getting the Proper Fit for You and Baby
Okay, you’ve got your sling, but do you really know how to use that thing? Proper babywearing fit is critical for safety and your own comfort. Here’s how to get that perfect snuggly sling fit every time:
- Positioning baby – Follow instructions to correctly place baby in sling facing in or out. Never let baby’s face press into fabric or slump forward.
- Adjusting straps – Slide straps through rings or tighten wraps until baby is held close to you and sling feels snug. Watch those beb videos if you need a tutorial.
- Achieving tightness – Aim for tight enough to support baby while still allowing your movement and breath. Like skinny jeans, but with another human inside.
Babywearing Safety Tips
Speaking of breathing, safety is paramount when you’ve got a tiny human strapped to your chest. Follow these tips to master worry-free babywearing:
- Proper support – Baby’s back and neck should be supported in a natural curved position. Regularly re-adjust.
- Monitor breathing – Make sure baby’s face isn’t smushed into fabric, their chin is up and airway is clear.
- Overheating – Watch for sweating and use lightweight, breathable fabrics. Baby shouldn’t be a s’more all pressed up against you.
- Fall risks – Ensure you have a secure grip when leaning or reaching. Try not to Instagram and babywear simultaneously.
How to Get Baby Carrier Sling to Work?
Using a Baby Carrier Sling for Newborns
Here are some tips for safely using baby slings with newborns:
- Choose a pouch or wrap style to fully support baby’s neck and head. Make sure their nose and mouth are unobstructed.
- Cradle baby in an upright fetal position against your chest until they have good head and neck control.
- Start with short sessions of babywearing around the house before venturing outdoors. Your baby needs to acclimate.
- Bounce gently or sway from side to side to soothe your baby. The motion can soothe and calm babies when held in a sling.
- Ensure the sling fabric doesn’t press baby’s face or chin to their chest, which can restrict breathing.
The key is taking things slowly and adjusting the baby’s position for proper head, neck and spine support. With some care, slings can be used safely even with floppy infants fresh out of the womb. But parents should monitor comfort and breathing closely.
Using a Baby Carrier Sling for Older Babies
Once baby hits that three-month mark and develops solid head and neck control, they’ll be ready for exciting new babywearing positions:
- Try hip carries facing inward for babies that want to see the world but still snooze comfortably on you.
- Switch to forward facing out positions so baby can curiously check out the sights, sounds and smells. But stop if they seem overstimulated. There’s a lot going on out here!
- As baby gets bigger, do back carries so they can check out the action from behind you, high up on their mama/daddy throne.
- Ensure leg support is properly positioned once those chubby baby thighs appear. We don’t want hip dysplasia up in here!
- Follow weight limits and use extra back support once your baby chunker starts weighing you down. Save your spine!
Hands-Free Babywearing Positions and Holds
Being hands-free is the holy grail of babywearing. Try these prime positions for living that wireless mom/dad life:
- Hip carry for feeding baby easily or doing stuff one-handed. Monitor wiggly babies though!
- Back carry for chasing after toddlers or activities needing both hands like grocery shopping and doing the robot dance.
- Dual babywearing with two in front for twins, tandems or your own severed clone a la Prestige.
Troubleshooting Common Baby Carrier Sling Problems
It’s not always baby bliss in that baby sling. Here’s how to troubleshoot issues:
- Fussiness – Babies may fuss if they’re hungry, tired or just done with slinging for awhile. Try calming techniques before deciding to ditch the sling.
- Discomfort – Check for pinched body parts, overheating, and proper leg support. Re-adjust straps and carries until baby seems content.
- Improper fit – A too loose sling provides insufficient support while one too tight restricts movement and breathing. Find that babywear sweet spot!
Caring for Your Baby Carrier Sling
Show that baby sling some TLC with proper washing and storage:
- Review fabric care instructions so you don’t damage the sling. Some only allow spot cleaning or air drying.
- Use a gentle, hypoallergenic detergent and wash on delicate to preserve the fabric.
- Hang to dry or tumble dry on low to prevent shrinking or damage, especially with stretchy fabric blends.
- Store slings flat or folded loosely, not wadded tight. This maintains shape and support.
Buying a Quality Baby Carrier Sling
You get what you pay for when it comes to baby gear. Consider these factors when buying a sling:
- Brand – Stick to reputable babywearing brands known for safety and quality materials. Boutique Etsy slings may not meet standards.
- Reviews – Check reviews on Amazon, blogs and parenting forums to choose a highly-rated sling. Better yet, try ones out in person if possible.
- Budget – Expect to spend $50-$200+ on a good sling. Cheaper versions may be poorly constructed. But secondhand is fine if not overly worn!
Keep on Babywearing!
And there you have it – everything you need to know to become a babywearing pro while avoiding the pitfalls. Mastering the art of the baby sling takes time and practice, but before you know it, you’ll be a hands-free parenting machine. So strap on your little one and take babywearing to new heights. Just don’t actually climb heights while wearing your baby. Safety first! Use your newfound knowledge to pick the perfect sling, get that ideal fit dialed in, and troubleshoot any issues like a boss. Now go forth and keep on babywearing in comfort and style! Those babies aren’t going to sling themselves.