The baby sling is an accessory that is enjoying great success. Practical, light, economical and extremely versatile, it gives the possibility to always carry the child with you without having your hands busy. The advantages of its use are so many, on a physical and relational level, both for the child and for the parent. Excellent alternative to prams and strollers, it is to be considered as a gift idea for future parents.
Let’s find out how it is used and what are all the advantages it brings with it.
Baby sling, what is it
The baby sling is an accessory that is becoming increasingly used also in Italy.
Very comfortable and super practical alternative to prams and strollers, it is a piece of fabric strategically tied to the parent’s body to accommodate the child and carry him around. Conceptually similar to the baby carrier, in reality the baby sling implies numerous advantages both for the child and for the parent himself, on a physical and relational level.
Thanks to its increasing popularity, there is a wide variety of models, shapes and colors on the market, and it is also possible to make your own in do-it-yourself mode.
Baby sling, how to wear it
The use of the baby sling is called “babywearing”.
Especially at the beginning, the greatest fear of parents concerns the technical practice to use it correctly without running the risk of hurting the child or, worse still, being able to drop it.
First of all, the manufacturing company provides precise and detailed instructions on how to wear the headband correctly. In addition, there are numerous video tutorials online to guide you step by step.
You can assume different positions (as better detailed later in the dedicated paragraph), but the best ones are the front one, the one on the back and the side one, all to be adopted from 3 months, and in any case when the baby begins to show curiosity for the world surrounding.
Position of the child
For the maximum comfort of the child and the health of his posture, here are some suggestions to follow about the position that the child must assume:
- guarantee the child a physiological position : symmetrical, vertical and spread-sitting
- the bottom should be lower and the knees higher
- the head at “kiss height”
- the buttocks at the level of the wearer’s navel; it is okay a little higher, but never below
- the feet must be parallel to the floor
- the newborn must be guaranteed physiological kyphosis, the C-shaped curvature of the spinal column
Other safety tips
- always close each tie with a double knot
- do not wear the sling with the child in the car, bicycle or other means (public transport is to be used only for short journeys)
- make sure that the baby’s nose and mouth are always free from any obstacle
- maintain constant adherence between the wearer’s body and that of the wearer: closeness means safety
Baby sling, which one to choose
There is such a variety of products on the market as to confuse especially newbies in the sector. So let’s try to do some clarity to make the choice a little easier and less confusing.
First of all, a basic distinction must be made between:
- “unstructured” supports, which include the bands (long, short, elastic …)
- “structured” supports, such as baby carriers
- “semi-structured” supports, such as Mei Tai
Regardless of the choice, some features are essential:
- respect for physiology
- safety in carrying
- freedom of movement for the parent
- green products free of harmful substances
Let’s now see the different types that exist.
In the case of the newborn, the ideal is a long baby sling that allows for multi-layered bindings.
The product must guarantee containment and excellent support for the spinal column, especially the head, and allow the little one to keep the legs gathered in the classic “frog” position.
Elastic baby carrier
It is a sort of comfortable t-shirt, to be enlarged to insert or take out your baby, without having to tie or untie the knots every time.
In cotton jersey or bamboo fiber , it is about 5 meters long. Avoid products containing elastane, as they are too soft.
The elastic baby sling is ideal for newborns and premature babies. It should be used exclusively to carry the baby in front and with triple support binding, or 3 layers of fabric that wrap the baby.
Unfortunately, when it reaches 7-8 kg of weight, it becomes yielding, and therefore no longer so safe.
Rigid baby carrier
Also called “long woven baby sling”, it is worked on the loom with a particular weave that gives the product excellent stability and elasticity.
On the market there are various combinations of fabric (linen, silk, hemp …), but the ideal is to opt for a 100% cotton product.
The length is variable , it depends both on the size of the wearer and on the type of binding that is chosen, however the standard is 5 meters.
This type of sling can be used to hold the baby in front, on the side and on the back, with single or multi-layered bindings.
Short baby sling
It differs from the rigid baby sling only for its length : about 3 meters less. It therefore allows you to make only single-layer ligatures, preferably on the side.
Recommended from 3 months, or in any case from when the child is able to hold the head independently.
Ring baby sling
This type of band consists of a non-elastic sheet, about 2 meters long, and closed by two rings. Inside these loops, the fabric is slid for tension adjustment.
To be worn both in front and on the side, it allows single-layer ligatures. Avoid the back position as it does not allow the fabric to cross under the baby’s bottom, thus not guaranteeing a safe tying.
It can be used from 3 months, or in any case from when the child is able to hold his head independently.
The baby carrier ring must allow the child to assume the spread-sitting position, with the knees higher than the bottom so as not to crush the genitals.
The limit of this sling model is to unload the weight only on one shoulder; It is therefore ideal for short journeys and not for prolonged use.
Tubular baby carrier
Compared to other baby slings, this model has no free ends and is sewn, in fact, like a ring, in a personalized way, that is, taking into account the measurements of both the child and the parent.
To be worn on the hip, it follows the same rules as the ring sling.
Due to the custom sizes, the tubular baby sling has a limited use over time.
Here are also some product examples that we can find online:
Baby sling, positions
The child can be placed in the sling in different positions, which vary mainly according to the age of the child. The main positions are:
- belly to belly
- belly to back
Let’s see them one by one, a little more in detail.
The most common position: comfortable, safe and healthy for the little one. In fact, it allows the correct development of the back and promotes digestion, avoiding refluxes and the risk of colic .
This position also offers great psychological advantages. First of all, especially in the early stages of a child’s life, it makes detachment from the womb less traumatic, and also allows for a constant visual relationship between mother and child.
The legs can be held either inside the sling, gathered in the fetal position, or out, astride the sling.
Belly to back position
Comfortable and safe position, however, not suitable for infants.
Promotes proper development of the back and hips, and aids digestion.
In this case, however, there is no eye contact between mom / dad and baby, and the convenience of being able to breastfeed the baby is also lost.
Position on the side
Feasible if you use single shoulder bands or ring ones.
This position, however, has not only advantages.
Yes, it allows the baby to assume the comfortable fetal position, but in this way, all its weight goes to rest on the supporting shoulder only.
Tip : In the lateral position, make sure that the baby always stays below the height of the mother’s breast, which minimizes the wearer’s effort.
Positions not to use and other tips
First, check which are the non-recommended positions listed in the instruction manual of the purchased band.
In general, all those positions that lead to an imbalance of the wearer are not recommended. This is why it is better for the little one to turn and look at the bearer; looking elsewhere, it could in fact shake suddenly and excessively, risking the fall or a sprain of the wearer.
Also remember that the band must always fit snugly against the wearer’s body. If it loosens, it is best to find a quiet place to sit and adjust the strap correctly.
In general, the baby sling is a product that can no longer be used once the child has exceeded 18 kg in weight.
Baby sling, practical advantages
Surely Babywearing, as we will see later, has multiple benefits on the psychological and relational side. But we must also not forget its indisputable practical advantages. Specifically, the baby sling:
- it is cheaper than strollers and baby carriages
- is a practical and versatile tool
- the wearer’s hands are always free
- it is light and takes up little space
- it can be used both indoors and out, and in all seasons of the year
Baby sling, the advantages for the parent-child relationship
Let us now analyze the psychological / emotional advantages that the Babywearing technique brings for the development of the child and for the parent-child relationship.
- Satisfies the baby’s need for contact , making it less traumatic to move away from the mother’s womb, as a sort of artificial extension of pregnancy
- It gives a sense of protection and security, the ideal position to be able to face the stimuli coming from the outside world
- It makes the baby happier who will cry less, only out of necessity and not out of mere whims
- It stimulates the thermor and golatrice function of the newborn
- It is healthy for the mother who, having the baby always with her, has the opportunity to move more and think a little about herself (which is usually very neglected especially in the first months after birth)
- It also allows dads to connect with the child
- It guarantees comfort and convenience for both
- It facilitates communication , not only verbal, but also through gestures and expression.
Remember: it is also possible to make a baby sling, respecting some simple instructions
DIY baby sling
We have said that the offer on the market is very vast. But for those who want, it is also possible to make your own baby sling in order to have it super personalized.
To make a traditional band, just buy a piece of elastic fabric, of your favorite pattern, about 3, 5 or 4 meters long, place it on the shoulders like a stole, turn the flaps behind the chest and then bring them in front of the belly.
Place the baby with the face facing the mother, and continue to wrap the fabric around the body of both the baby and the mother. To ensure maximum safety, at least 3 laps are required.
Finally, tie the leftover flaps behind your back like ties on an apron.
- Avoid fabrics with fringes that can hinder movement or tickle the baby’s face and hands
- Avoid embossed prints or embroidered decorations which can cause irritation on the skin
- It is possible to make reinforcements in the internal part of the band by means of foam padding