ALL ABOUT SLINGS

keeping your baby close and connected

Baby wearing is the practice of keeping your baby or toddler close and connected to you through the use of a baby carrier or sling.

It is a natural instinct for babies to want to be close to their parent and be held. This provides them with security, warmth and connection. Using a sling or carrier can help you hold and keep baby close more easily.

Anyone can baby wear, as we call it. It doesn’t matter who you are, where you are from, what your interests are, your religion, your background, whether you want to baby wear all the time or you just want to baby wear occasionally, baby wearing can be for EVERYONE. And what’s more, there are SO many benefits of baby wearing, for you AND your baby!

 

Why use a sling?

Benefits for you!

  • Hands free!
  • Convenience – you can go places it is awkward to take the pram/buggy. Healthy – helps to strengthen mum’s body after birth and helps you get out and about.
  • Communication – you can learn your baby’s “language” easier and meet their needs quicker.
  • Interaction – allows you to interact with other children you may have, whilst still holding baby.
  • Bonding – helps build a close bond between you and baby, great for dads!
  • PND – baby wearing is shown to help reduce the risk/severity of Post Natal Depression a mother may suffer.

Benefits for your baby!

  • Cry less – babies held close are more settled.
  • Sleep more – babies feel safe, secure and comfortable, so fall asleep!
  • Healthier – helps core strength development, sense of balance and gain weight faster.
  • Helps digestion – the upright carried position encourages better gut flow, reduces risk of reflux and colic.
  • Calm – helps stabilize baby’s heart rate, breathing and regulates baby’s body temperature.
  • Learning – baby’s spend longer in a “quiet alert state”, able to observe and learn about the world around them.
  • Love – carried babies feel more secure, happier and loved.

Breastfeeding and baby wearing

Keeping baby close in a sling or carrier can enhance lactation. It can increase the frequency that you nurse your baby, therefore increasing your milk supply and can also encourage a mother to breastfeed for longer too. This in turn will mean more antibodies are passed to the child in the milk for longer, enhancing baby’s immune system.

A sling can be a useful tool for breastfeeding; it can be used as a discreet cover, used to support baby weight whilst nursing or even used to feed baby whilst in the carrier!

However, these techniques can be difficult to learn and perfect. We would always recommend you establish breast feeding and learn to baby wear separately first, before combining the two skills. If in any doubt, seek help and advice.

T.I.C.K.S. babywearing safety

The most basic advice for safe baby wearing are the TICKS rules, designed to keep babies safe while being worn. The following T.I.C.K.S. Rules for Safe Babywearing have been put together by the UK Sling Manufacturers and Retailers Consortium, and apply to all carriers, though are particularly important when carrying young babies:

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TIGHT – slings and carriers should be tight enough to hug your baby close to you as this will be most comfortable for you both. Any slack/loose fabric will allow your baby to slump down in the carrier which can hinder their breathing and pull on your back.

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IN VIEW AT ALL TIMES – you should always be able to see your baby’s face by simply glancing down. The fabric of a sling or carrier should not close around them so you have to open it to check on them. In a cradle position your baby should face upwards and not be turned in towards your body.
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CLOSE ENOUGH TO KISS – your baby’s head should be as close to your chin as is comfortable. By tipping your head forward you should be able to kiss your baby on the head or forehead.
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KEEP THEIR CHIN OFF THEIR CHEST – a baby should never be curled so their chin is forced onto their chest as this can restrict their breathing. Ensure there is always a space of at least a finger width under your baby’s chin.
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SUPPORTED BACK – in an upright carry a baby should be held comfortably close to the wearer so their back is supported in its natural position and their tummy and chest are against you. If a sling is too loose they can slump which can partially close their airway. (This can be tested by placing a hand on your baby’s back and pressing gently – they should not uncurl or move closer to you.) A baby in a cradle carry in a pouch or ring sling should be positioned carefully with their bottom in the deepest part so the sling does not fold them in half pressing their chin to their chest.

DOWNLOAD THE TICKS GUIDE

Using slings is one of the safest ways to carry your baby and toddler. But, as with all aspects of child care and carriers, parents and carers need to be aware of how to use the sling to make sure that both their child and they are as comfortable and secure as possible.

The check list T.I.C.K.S covers the five key aspects of using slings in an easy to remember acronym.

You can download the TICKS guide here as well as a pdf document.