Everything You Need to Know About Carrying a Baby in a Sling
Are you thinking about babywearing as an option for your upcoming or existing baby?
Would you like to find out more information about how to safely carry a baby in a sling?
Are you a little unclear on the differences between some of the most common types of baby slings on the market?
If you need a little help figuring out the right way to wear a baby in a sling, look no further than this article. We’re here to help!
Below, you’ll find a brief rundown of information on what baby slings are, and you’ll be introduced to the two most common types you’re likely to run into. From there, you’ll learn the most common ways to tie both of these slings as well as a few pros and cons to help you make your decision more easily.
Whether you’re considering using a traditional baby sling or an ever-popular ring sling, you should find everything you need to know to get started with one or both of these options in the information below. By the time you’ve finished reading through this article, you should be more than ready to choose which one will work best for you and your baby.
So what are you waiting for? Let’s go!
What is a baby sling?
If you’ve never heard of babywearing before, you may be asking yourself, “What is a baby sling anyway?” Simply put, baby slings are a type of cloth carrier that is used to help support the weight of your baby and carry him or her safely and comfortably on your hip, chest, or back, depending on the carrying option you choose.
Baby carriers have gotten more and more popular in recent years because they’re considered a more natural way to carry a child than in a stroller or baby carrier. They allow the wearer to keep the baby close and secure, which in turn gives the baby a lot of great benefits.
There are also several controversies surrounding the use of baby slings. In some horrible situations, babies have lost their lives due to suffocation or dropping out of baby slings. For this reason, it’s very important to understand the correct way to tie and wear a baby sling at all times.
There are many different types of baby slings, but for the purposes of this article, we’ll be focusing specifically on wrap slings and ring slings. The type of sling you choose depends on the age and size of your baby as well as on your own body type and abilities.
The baby sling wrap is easily the most popular version of baby wrap available. It comes in a variety of different styles, but when it comes down to the basics, this wrap is a long, stretchy piece of material that’s durable enough to wrap around the wearer’s body a few times and still support the weight of the baby. It can be tied in several ways, but the most popular and most commonly questioned is the newborn hold. For this article, we’ll focus on this first and most important wrap style.
How it’s used:
1. Unfold your wrap all the way and locate the center of the fabric. On name brand wraps, there will probably be a tag in the middle.
2. Hold the center of the wrap slightly above your belly button.
3. Cross both ends of the fabric over your back and stretch the ends up and over your shoulders to the front of your body. Take care not to twist the fabric.
4. Tuck both ends under the middle band of the wrap that should be wrapped around your stomach.
5. Pull down on the long ends so that the middle band rises up on your chest.
6. Cross the long ends in front and then pull them around to cross again on your back.
7. Tie the wrap firmly behind your back. If you have a lot of give left on the ends of the fabric, bring them around to the front and double knot them again.
8. Pull the shoulder piece closest to your chest away from yourself and place your baby, face-in, down into the “pocket” this creates.
9. Be sure your baby’s legs remain in a natural position.
10. Spread the fabric out over your baby’s back and bottom.
11. While supporting your baby with your free hand, use your other hand to spread the other shoulder’s fabric over your baby’s body.
12. Pull the bottom piece of fabric up over your baby’s bottom and back to help hold him or her in an upright position.
13. Always keep your baby up high enough on your chest that you can kiss his or her head easily. This is the safest position for a newborn or young baby.
- This type of wrap is very easy to keep clean by simply throwing it in the washing machine.
- You can purchase these wraps in a variety of different colors and patterns to suit your and your baby’s preferences.
- You can adjust this wrap to suit any body size and any age child up to the toddler years with no trouble.
- It can be very difficult to learn how to properly tie this type of wrap, especially without help.
- There are always risks associated with wearing your baby in a sling, and this type of sling is no exception to that.
- Depending on your body type or any physical limitations you might have, this kind of wrap may not be very comfortable for you.
Ring slings are very similar to traditional baby sling wraps, but they’re a little bit different as well. Instead of supporting the weight and position of the baby with a knotting and pulling system, the fabric is threaded through two durable hoops or rings that allow you to tighten and loosen the sling as necessary throughout the day and throughout your babywearing experience. This type of sling is also made from a long piece of slightly stretchy and very durable fabric as its main body.
How it’s used:
1. Hold your ring sling so that the tag (or back side of the fabric) is facing up and the fabric isn’t twisted or bunched.
2. Hold the rings in one hand and the tail of the wrap in the other.
3. Thread the tail side of the fabric through both of the rings. If your sling has a tag, it should now be between the shoulder and tail pieces of the fabric.
4. Pull the tail over the top ring and then down through the bottom ring.
5. Flatting the fabric evenly over the rings as much as you can, to make sure the weight is being evenly distributed along the whole ring instead of just in one place.
6. Put the loop over your head and rest the rings on the shoulder where you want the weight to be. The bottom of the pouch should be close to your belly button.
7. Hold your baby against the non-ringed shoulder. Slide your baby gently into the pouch made by the fabric so that the fabric is around his or her knees. Be sure to support your baby at all times.
8. Spread the baby’s legs into a natural and comfortable position in either a chest position or in a baby sling hip carry.
9. Lift the panel of the fabric up behind your baby’s back while you support him or her with your free hand.
10. Be sure there’s enough fabric supporting your baby’s bottom and underneath both knees.
11. Reach between yourself and your baby to pull the bottom piece of fabric up and toward your baby to help with positioning.
12. Pull all excess fabric across your baby’s back and bottom and up to the rings.
13. Tighten the fabric using the rings until you are comfortably and securely holding your baby.
14. Spread the fabric over your back evenly for the most support possible.
- It’s very easy to learn how to wrap and tie this type of sling with just a little bit of practice.
- These slings can be purchased in all sorts of styles, shapes, and even materials that all work equally well and can be chosen to suit your tastes and needs.
- Ring slings are very affordable and can even be made at home by following easy DIY guides.
- This type of sling is often not suited for newborn babies and may be better to save until your baby is a little older.
- No matter what age your baby is, you’ll need to offer more support in this sling than you would with other types of slings.
- It can be a little more difficult to clean this type of sling due to the rings.
5 Benefits of Using a Baby Sling
There are quite a few advantages and benefits of babywearing, and particularly when it comes to using baby slings. If you need a little extra incentive to give one or both of these sling styles a try, check out these great benefits you’re sure to enjoy when you get used to using your baby sling.
1. It’s more convenient to wear your baby in a sling.
You can breastfeed your baby more easily in a newborn hold, and you can better keep an eye on him or her at all times when you keep your baby close to your chest.
2. You’ll be able to keep one or both of your hands free at all times when you use a baby sling.
Depending on the type of sling you use, you may be able to comfortably and safely have both of your hands free and still carry your baby with you all day.
3. If your baby cries and is very fussy most of the time, he or she may calm down from the use of a baby sling.
This is a great way to help treat babies with colic, but even if your baby is just generally fussy, he or she is likely to calm down more easily when kept close to your body.
4. Babies are more interested in the world around them when they’re carried in a baby sling.
Some parents have reported that their babies are more involved in what’s going on and more likely to be entertained and even to learn more quickly due to babywearing.
5. It’s easier to bond with your baby while carrying him or her in a sling, especially if you don’t get to spend all your time with your infant.
Parents and caregivers who don’t get to be with their children during the day because of a busy work schedule will enjoy the time they get to spend bonding with baby while using a baby sling. The same is true of your baby!
Carrying a baby in a sling is a big decision, and it’s not one to be made lightly. If you choose to get involved in the world of babywearing, be sure to do your research first. With this article, you’re already well on your way to better understanding the steps required to safely and properly wear your baby no matter which type of sling you choose to use.
Remember that there’s still a lot to learn, however, and we’ve only scratched the surface of the different types of wraps available for you to choose from, including the baby sling back carry, which is great for toddlers. There are many different ways to wear your baby depending on his or her size, age, and developmental stage, so be sure you have a firm understanding of the best way to wrap your own baby before you get started.
Always remember to practice babywearing with another adult present to help you wrap or hold the baby if need be. This is especially true the first few times you give it a try. Practice makes perfect, and there’s no harm in needing to go over it a few times before you get it right. In no time, you’ll be a pro at babywearing and you’ll be carrying your child in a sling everywhere you go!
****Check out this great interview with Chinmayie Bhat of SoulSlings for more info on the benefits of babywearing, motivation, being a Momprenuer and more!