It is more common to see people carrying babies and young children using slings/carriers, with the rise in the number of sling libraries and consultants and with many retailers like John Lewis and Partners stocking them. Yet it is still far from ‘the norm’ and there are often misconceptions and misunderstandings around carrying. Read on for common myths.
It makes your baby clingy
This is often one of the first things parents think. The word “clingy” is thought of to mean being too emotionally dependent.
Think about your baby before being born. They experience constant warmth, constant touch, restricted, cushioned movement, and constant noise. Then they are born! The world seems loud and bright and cold.
Babies prefer to be in our arms, on our chest, held snug to us, often waking as soon as we try to put them down. Responding to their needs for touch, comfort, warmth, food etc., ensures that they feel safe and this builds trust and a secure attachment. It is crucial for healthy development, having long-term benefits on every aspect of our lives including mental and physical health. There is no such thing as a baby being too emotionally dependent as they are entirely dependent on us for everything. Carrying in a sling allows you to meet their needs as well as being able to be hands free so you can meet some of your own needs too.
Depending on the brand and type, prices vary. The more expensive slings/carriers are around £150 but many cost between £50-£100. And does spending more money mean it’s going to be comfortable and work for you? Not necessarily!
It is important to try them on and think about how you are going to use the carrier/sling as this will help narrow it down. Buying second hand is a good option, as long as they are authentic and are in good condition. Many hold their value well, meaning you can sell it on once you are no longer using it.
One type is best
Every person has different preferences, different body shapes, different capabilities and different tolerances. There is no one single best sling/carrier, much like cars or shoes, there is only what is best for you and your child. Of course we want the best for our child but there isn’t a best brand out there. It is about working out what you need and prefer and this may vary as your child grows and for different situations. A good place to start is by visiting a sling library to try some on.
It can be painful
Carrying should be comfortable. It might be that you need a few adjustments or it may be time to try a different type/one that offers different support, but there is always a sling/carrier out there for you! We often hear people say “oh my baby got too heavy to carry” or “my sling hurt my back” and that may mean the sling/carrier wasn’t fitting well.
Changing the type or style can also impact comfort. Wider based carriers spread the weight differently to narrower carriers. Narrow-based carriers can be uncomfortable for the wearer as baby starts to grow and gain weight. Optimal positioning means optimal comfort, for example, supporting a child knee-to-knee as we would hold them in arms.
Carrying is for newborns or young babies
Carrying older children can be hugely helpful for a number of reasons. It can be a helpful way to reconnect with your child after time apart. It can be a helpful tool using a sling/carrier to help settle a child in unfamiliar situations or places and it’s also a good tool when travelling as you have hands free for suitcases, easier on and off planes and around airports etc.
Carrying is also great for language and social development as we may engage more with our child if they are close to us. It can help them learn about social situations and how to communicate. And remember, there is no age or size limit to carrying your child.
AUTHOR: ZOE WOODMAN
SLING CONSULTANT, SURREY
Zoe is a trained and insured carrying consultant offering 1:1s, workshops and bespoke sessions in and around Surrey and the wider area. She has a background in psychology, and a specialist interest in carrying and it’s links to development of a secure attachment.