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Do you Baby Wear

Thursday, 9 October 2014  | 

This week is International Babywearing week so I thought I would honour this by talking about my own experience of babywearing. It is fair to say that carrying Millar in a sling, or ‘wearing’ him is one of my favourite bits of parenting so far and there are so many reasons why.

Like most people who use slings, I started out with a typical high-street carrier – a Baby Bjorn – which I got second hand from a friend. I always knew a sling would be important, as I walk my dog, Jeff, every day in the forest or heathland near where we live, so it made sense that a sling would be far easier than a buggy for this. I think I first took him out in the carrier when he was five days old – just to the end of the road and back to see if we could do it. It was nerve-wracking, but I managed and knew I was going to love carrying him. He fell instantly to sleep and seemed to love being in there.

When we were struggling with him screaming and not wanting to be put down in the first couple of weeks, with what I now know was reflux, I wanted some way of carrying him around the house. I felt so trapped to the sofa, but he was so tiny and floppy, so I didn’t feel I could do any jobs around the house while holding him in my arms. The Baby Bjorn didn’t feel secure enough to move about loads while doing housework. I don’t know why I was so fixated with being able to do housework – I had an obsession with the idea of being able to hang the washing out. I was desperate to feel like normal life could continue, I think.

So a friend recommended I try a stretchy wrap, as this would keep him snuggled to me and fulfil his ‘not wanting to be put down’ thing, and give me two hands to fulfil my ‘I need to get stuff done’ thing. I bought a Moby wrap and watched some Youtube videos on how to tie it. It took a bit of practice, but once I’d got it, it was brilliant. Millar was tucked in close to my chest, able to hear my heart beat and fall asleep, and I felt the liberating sensation of being able to use both hands – and bend down to get washing out of the machine without feeling like he was going to fall out.

The same friend who recommended the wrap suggested I try going to a sling library to find what would suit us and give us some support in tying the stretchy wrap. I started looking on Facebook for local sling libraries and I found a whole world that I had no idea existed. Babywearers are certainly passionate about their wraps and slings and the more I looked into it, the more I got into the whole sling thing. I liked the stretchy wrap around the house, but still liked a structured carrier for going out. I wanted something that would give me more support than the Baby Bjorn, which put all of Millar’s weight on my shoulders and got quite uncomfortable after a while – even when he was just eight weeks old. I borrowed a Manduca from a local sling library, where you pay £10 and can hire a sling for a month to see if it suits you – such a simple but genius idea.

The Manduca was amazing. It enabled me to take Millar to watch the Tour de France in Leeds City Centre when he was nine weeks old – he was in the sling for nearly four hours and totally happy and comfortable – as was I. I loved the Manduca, but it wasn’t as pretty as some of the slings I was seeing on my now almost daily perusal of the Facebook sling sites. I was going to some weddings in the summer and wanted something beautiful to go with my outfits. I decided to buy a Rose and Rebellion carrier as they are utterly gorgeous and come in a huge array of designs. I bought it second hand through a local Facebook sling page and was so pleased with it.

Amongst other things, this carrier saw us through a city centre wedding in Manchester, an evening wedding where we were able to stay until 11pm as Millar fell asleep happily in it after his bottle and allowed us to have our evening with him there. It’s not that we didn’t take the buggy – we did, but more often than not it got used to dump our coats and bags in, as Millar was perfectly happy in the sling. Other instances of babywearing saving the day were the two trips to London we have done – one of which Millar and I were on our own for. There is just no way I would know how to manage a buggy on the tube on my own. I’m sure it’s possible, but having him in a sling meant I could just hop on and off the trains, go up the steps and escalators without a second thought and had him close to me if he got worried by the noise and crowds. Generally, he just went to sleep!

Ever since discovering the whole world of ergonomic slings, I have been taken with the look of the Tula brand of carrier – their designs are so pretty and they look so comfortable for the wearer and the baby. I liked the fact that you can wear them on your back and your front. Slings are certainly not cheap, which is why sling libraries are so brilliant. I absolutely love my Tula – it will come into its own in a couple of weeks when we go on our first family holiday to the Lake District and I am so excited that Millar will be able to come walking with us. A sling opens up so many possibilities with a baby. For us, it means we can continue to do the things we love doing, with the bonus of Millar experiencing them with us. Added to that, he is snuggled up to me and we can chat about everything we are seeing.

We have recently ventured even further into babywearing territory and I have just purchased my first ring sling. This is mainly for using around the house, as when Millar is teething or tired, he wants me to hold him. The ring sling lets me carry him on my hip, as I would if I were just holding him, but it’s comfortable and gives me my hands free. We are loving it so far and I am so excited about what the future of our babywearing journey might be.

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