Babywearing Basics 3: Slings

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By Mirranda Reinhardt for Pregnancy Awareness Month®

So far in our Babywearing Basics series we’ve learned why babywearing is beneficial and we’ve learned about front strap on carriers. Another really common babycarrier is the sling. Slings are just pieces of fabric that are either sewed together, or passed through rings. They are worn over one shoulder and across the body, creating a pouch where baby sits.

Slings are a great option for moms looking for versatility, they’re available in a variety of styles and fabric choices and allow the wearer to hold baby in many different positions. If you’re looking for a carrier that will last from birth to toddlerhood, a sling is a great choice. The two most common types of slings are the pouch sling, and the ring sling; we’ll take a look at both.

Ring Slings: Ring slings are a very versatile option and are fairly inexpensive. If you’re crafty, you can make your own fairly easily with the fabric of your choice and heavy duty metal rings from slingrings.com. The fabric of a ring sling passes through two metal rings, which allow for the fabric to be pulled tighter or looser. There is a learning curve with a ring sling; it takes some time to figure out how to get a snug fit. Extra fabric hangs below the rings and is called the tail; it can be used to cover baby when nursing or to keep the sun out of baby’s eyes. Ring slings are one size fits most so they’re great for families where mom and dad both want to babywear. Popular brands of ring slings include Maya Wrap and Zolowear.

The Pouch Sling: Pouch slings are great for convenience. These slings are made of a wide strip of fabric, sewed together to create a circle. Pouch slings are quite possibly the easiest baby carrier to put on; there are no buckles or rings to adjust. Unlike ring slings, there’s no extra fabric or “tail” to deal with. If you opt for a pouch sling, you’ll need to follow the measuring instructions from the manufacturer because one size does not fit all. To keep baby safe and secure, you’ll need to make sure you buy the proper size. A well-fitting pouch sling will allow you to carry baby facing in, facing forward, or on your hip. His legs can be tucked in, or left out (except for when facing forward) depending on his age and comfort level. Peanut Shell and Hot Slings are two common brands of pouch slings.

A Word of Caution: In 2010, nearly a million baby carriers from Infantino were recalled. These heavily padded slings positioned baby too deep within the pouch in a chin to chest position which lead to suffocation for at least three infants. If you are given a used sling, make sure it isn’t on the recall list. Remember, you should be able to see your baby’s face while he or she is in a sling and his face should not be pressed against your chest or the fabric of the sling.

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