If you’ve just had a baby or you’re still expecting, then investing in a baby sling can be one of the most practical purchase you can make for you and your new baby. Baby slings have been in existence in some form for hundreds, if not thousands of years, and they have remained popular as a way of moving and functioning with your baby whilst keeping them safe, secure, and well-supported.
What Are Baby Slings?
Baby slings are one of a growing number of types of baby carrier available and are designed to let you carry your baby whilst leaving your hands free for other things. Slings are made from fabric (usually, but not always cotton) and they simply slip over your shoulder and let you hold your baby in a natural ‘cradle’ position. If you have a newborn baby, they can be carried in front of you, whereas older babies and toddlers can be carried on your back or on your hip.
Types of Baby Sling
There are essentially two types of baby slings available in the UK, which we discuss in further details below.
The Ring Sling
A ring sling is a length of cloth on which two rings are sewn on at the end. The cloth is wrapped around the wearer’s body and the end is threaded through the two rings, which essentially creates a buckle effect. Ring slings can be used from birth through to your child being a toddler and allows you to carry your baby in a variety of ways such as on you front, hip or back.
Baby wraps are a very simple type of baby sling that is very comfortable and effective. It is one long piece of fabric that can vary in size (usually between three and six metres) and is wrapped around the body to form a sling. They are very flexible and they can be used in a variety of different ways and are easy to customise and adjust.
Advantages of Baby Slings
There are numerous advantages to using a baby sling:
They Enable You and Your Baby to Stay Close at All Times
Baby slings enable you to stay close to your baby at all times and this promotes the building of a bond between you and your baby. Slings can be used by both father and mother and are great at promoting all round family bonds.
They Take Up Much Less Room than a Pram
Both at home and when travelling in a car or on public transport, prams can take up a huge amount of room. A sling, on the other hand, lets you travel with it in a small bag, which is easy to carry until you need to use it.
They Promote Communication Between You and Your Baby
Using a sling can help advance your young baby developmentally. Because they are so close and facing you, your baby picks up on a lot of verbal and nonverbal communication – all of which can help development.
You Can Function Almost as Normal
Whether it is doing housework, travelling on a bus, shopping or making a sandwich, everyday tasks are easy to do with a baby sling. As you go about your daily business, your baby happily snuggles up close to you in the sling either sleeping or just watching what is going on. You also needn't worry about having to get up and down stairs with a heavy pram and a baby should you be travelling on your own. This can be especially frustrating in the London Underground where there are often no lifts available.
They Are Great for Fitness
With a young baby, it can be difficult to find the time to exercise and keep fitness levels up. Utilising a baby sling however helps get you and baby out and about and, with baby snuggled up close to you providing added weight, it can help you get a great workout.
Disadvantages of Baby Slings
So, sounds like baby slings are the way forward, but don't get too excited, as there are some minor disadvantages to using a baby sling, which we discuss in more detail below.
There Is So Much Choice
Some people may find it difficult to choose which type of sling is best for them – the choice available being a little bit daunting. However, with a little bit of research, guidance and advice the perfect sling can be found for your baby and in the end you’ll be glad that there is such a wide choice.
Some People May Find Slings Difficult to Use
Like anything in life, some people find some things difficult to master and this can be the case with baby slings. However, with a little persistence, most difficulties can be overcome and a quick search on YouTube will reveal a lot of videos on all types of baby sling that are very informative and can help you get the most out of yours.
They Can Be Impractical if You Have Lots of Bags
Baby slings, despite being practical in a range of situations, slings may not be the best way to take baby shopping. If you have lots of bags, a pram is far more practical as the weight of carrying bags and a baby can place severe strain on your neck and back and could cause you an injury.
Although baby slings are perfectly safe to use if done so in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions, they will never be quite as safe as using a pram. There is always the risk that you could fall, slip or trip, which means you should always keep your hands free to catch yourself should this ever happen.
Baby Sling Safety Tips
- You should only ever use a baby sling from a reputable manufacturer that is designed for your baby/toddler’s age and weight.
- When using your baby sling, you should always do so in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions.
- Always keep your child’s face uncovered at all times, especially their nose and mouth.
- Avoid using your baby sling if your baby is premature, has a low birth weight or is ill in any way unless you have been advised it is safe to do so by medical professional.
- Keep checking that your child is comfortable and is sitting safely in your baby sling.
- Don’t keep your child in a sling for long periods of time.
- Exercise caution when walking whilst your baby is in your sling and look out for any dangers that could cause you to fall, trip or slip.
- If you’re ever in doubt about using your baby sling, then don’t and seek the advice of a medical professional, such as your doctor or health visitor.
Where to Buy a Baby Sling
Baby slings should only be bought from reputable retailers, such as the ones listed below, to avoid any risks associated with using a baby sling: