What makes a good sling? I get asked this all the time. Parents ask my opinions on various brands and styles, and whether a particular sling will suit them and their children. It’s hard to choose from the many, many carriers available on the High Street and over the Internet and I’m sure most people think that they’re all much of a muchness, and surely, if some carriers were less than perfect, those big shops wouldn’t sell them would they?
Firstly, it’s really important that your child is comfortable and that they are properly supported in the sling. The International Hip Dysplasia Institute has written a really useful piece on baby carriers and hip health (read it here). We only sell slings which adequately support the hips and legs of the baby or child being carried, we believe it’s more comfortable all round and the best position for your child.
These images show the advantages of a wide-based sling, the thighs are well supported and the forces on the hip joints are minimal.
A good sling should be completely comfortable for the wearer too, it shouldn’t dig in or hurt at all. If you find your sling uncomfortable it may be that it’s badly designed or it may be that you need to adjust how you’re wearing it. Sometimes the smallest tweaks will make a huge difference, and we’d always recommend that you try and get advice in real life, either from your local Sling Library or ideally from a trained Babywearing Consultant who can help you get the best out of your sling.
I’d always advise that you buy a trusted and established brand of sling, that way you can be sure of the quality of the fabrics and manufacture. A sling is firstly a functional item, it is designed to safely carry your child and it should withstand the inevitable wear and tear it will undergo. Manufacturers spend a lot of money having their products tested to ensure they meet rigorous safety standards. There are some fabulous companies out there who specialise in making custom or one-off slings, these slings are beautiful and on the whole extremely well made, if you’re considering buying from a lesser known brand, do your research! There are plenty of forums where you can ask for the opinions of other sling users, Natural Mamas even has a dedicated feedback section.
Think about how, when and who will use the sling. Currently, I mostly carry my four month old on the school runs, some mornings we’re in a rush so I tend to pick a carrier I can put on quickly, usually my Connecta, Boba or a Mei Tai. I also have a couple of slings which are better for carrying big kids in as every so often my 3 year old needs a lift!
I seem to have developed a bit of a sling stash and have a sling for every occasion, if my husband asks, they are all entirely necessary and they certainly do all get used! I’m planning another blog very soon discussing the pros and cons of each style, so I won’t say too much about it now…
Once you have your gorgeous new sling, please make sure you are familiar with the T.I.C.K.S guidelines, I try and send a copy out with every sling I sell and I’m always happy to pop extra copies in the post.