SLINGS AND NEWBORNS
A sling is, hands down, my top parenting tool for the early weeks. I wish every new parent was issued a sling within the first week of birth because it really can make life with a newborn so much easier.
- Keeps your baby close
- Promotes bonding
- Helps you spot early feeding cues
- Reduces crying
- Helps with reflux symptoms
- Helps with wind
- Leaves you hands-free to tidy, do housework, walk the dog…
CHOOSING A SLING
It can be a bit daunting choosing a sling. So here are my top three slings for newborns. If you are buying a sling, I’d recommend going to a specific sling retailer, as they will have picked good quality slings that meet safety standards (I think Love To Be Natural has a fantastic range). Alternatively, you can often pick up a second hand sling from one of the many dedicated sling selling groups on Facebook. You may also be able to hire a sling from a local sling library. In Northern Ireland, these are Babywearing NI and Sling Library NI (coronavirus restrictions are in place at the time of writing this blog).
A stretchy wrap is always my starting point for newborns (I’ve got a video on how to use a stretchy wrap here). It’s a long piece of stretchy fabric that you wrap around you and create a pouch for your baby. It may seem complicated initially, but once you get the hang of it you can leave it on all day (much like a t-shirt) and just pop baby in and out. Expect a stretchy wrap to serve you well for the early months, but you’ll probably want to switch to a different sling once baby is a bit older.
There are a couple of tricks to getting a ring sling on, but once you get the hang of them, they are quick and easy to use. They work really well with newborns, with nosy babies who want to look around, and will last you well into toddlerhood, too. They do tend to distribute a baby’s weight a bit unevenly, as they only go over one shoulder, so if you have any back or joint issues, this may not work for you.
Also known as soft structured carriers (SSC), buckle carriers have developed so much over the last few years, and many brands now safely accommodate newborns. Some fantastic brands to investigate include Tula, Ergo and Isara. They are pricy, but will work for your baby right into toddlerhood, have a good resale value, and are quick and easy to put on.
A sling should go from one knee to the other, and the legs should be flexed in an “M” position, much like the graphic below. Make sure you check out the video to see what I mean by the “pelvic tilt” as that can have a big impact on your baby’s position in the sling.
It’s always worth bearing in mind the safety aspect of slings, so here are two good infographics about keeping babies safe:
If you’re struggling in the early days, I have a fantastic support package I offer new parents. We can look at feeding (breast or bottle), sleep, crying, reflux, colic, as well as look at ways of making life easier for you in those early days, including slings! You can also book a free 15 minute call to discuss concerns you’re having.