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.
the different types of slings
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:
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.
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.