We first discovered slings when Kezia was about 3 months old. I had one given to me whilst I was pregnant but it was a ring sling, which I just couldn’t work out. Then I ended up with a high maintenance baby who needed holding a lot, feeding a lot and needed to be upright. Suddenly slings became a necessity. Since then slings have become items that I love, they mean I can hold my baby close enough to kiss and yet have both of my arms free. I’ve always found that slings soothe my babies, they love being in the sling as they can see more, be held close and can poke me 😉 My personal favourite sling for front carries is a woven wrap as it is supportive and versatile. I love the Mei Tai for back carries and for keeping tied on when out and about so I can slip the toddler in and out as needed. I found out recently that baby wearing can burn an extra 16% of calories too, so an added bonus if you are looking at losing the post-baby weight.
Here are my top tips on slings:
Check to see if you have a sling library and advisor in your area. In Southampton we have a fabulous Sling Sling Meet. This meets twice a month, you can go along to get advice, try out a sling, make sure you are wearing it properly and borrow a sling for a month. A truly fabulous resource.
Newborn babies’ have a C-shaped spine, a good sling should allow them to remain in this rounded position and not slouch down when asleep. The fabric shold come up high enough to provide head support.
As with most things in life there are good and bad slings. Meaning there are slings that hold your baby in a good position and some that are not good for baby’s posture and specifically hip development. Forcing the hips into a stretched out position too early can lead to hip dysplasia. You want your baby to have their legs in a “froggy” position or M shape when in a sling, much like the fetal position. Their bottom should sit lower than their knees to allow for the balls o f the hips to sit in the sockets. This takes the pressure off the hip joint. Check that your sling allows this and doesn’t cause the baby’s legs to dangle down, unsupported.
Look out for second hand slings on preloved sites and ebay, you can save a fortune. Also check out you tube for great videos on how to wear your sling, I’ve learnt so many different carries this way.
Be very mindful of your posture when using your sling. It is very easy to let your shoulders round forward and and your neck jut down. This will lead to neck and shoulder ache and will not help with healing a diastasis. You need to focus on your core when using a sling, as when you think about it you are lifting something! So you need to think about your posture and core. Focus on standing tall, lengthening through the crown of your head, bring your shoulder blades down in your back and lifting through your mid back without pushing your ribcage out. Draw in your lower abdominal and lift your pelvic floor, holding a medium contraction in these muscles. If you get tired then rest. I found a few positions where I could prop myself up on the sofa or bed and have a nap with baby sleeping in the sling!