Baby slings are the next best thing to your arms when it comes to cradling your baby. Slings allow moms to go about their daily activities, while attending to their babies who want to be close to them. Mothers throughout time have attached their babies to their bodies using a simple length of cloth while tending the fields, gathering food, and cooking. Papooses were created and used for this purpose by some Native American tribes as well.
Slings are the most popular style of carrier for baby-wearing. Many parents find baby carriers too impersonal and unsupportive for their newborns. The sling cradles your baby as if lying in your arms leaving many parents reassured that their baby is safe and comfortable. If your baby falls asleep while in the sling, you can lay your baby down without waking them by bending over a crib or bed and simply slipping the sling over your head.
A baby sling is a wide length of fabric worn across your torso, supported by a single, padded shoulder strap. They tie, buckle, or snap close and are adjustable to fit any size or shape. Slings are adaptable and adjustable to fit your baby from newborn through to 3 years.
Slings adapt to a number of different positions depending on your baby's size and mood. Newborn babies can lie cradled in fetal position with the sling wrapping closely and firmly around your baby's body, similar to swaddling. Newborns who are awake and want to be upright and cuddled into mom's chest can sit upright fully supported in the snuggle hold. Older, curious babies can sit upright facing outward in a kangaroo-pouch position or sit with their legs straight out in a side carry. Older babies and toddlers can be worn in a hip-straddle position or upright across the back.
The modern baby sling allows your baby to nap, interact with you, and look at the world around them all snug and cuddled within the sling. Babies gain security from being close to the sound of your voice and heartbeat. The sensation of your movements, your voice, your heartbeat, and your body warmth can even calm a colicky or fussy baby. If you breastfeed, the loose fit and generous fabric of a sling allow you to discreetly nurse your baby in public without needing additional blankets to cover you
When choosing a baby sling, choose a lightweight cotton fabric. Cotton is soft, warm, and breathable, allowing air circulation so your baby won't overheat. Make sure that the sling is not so large that your baby will get lost in an abundance of cloth. If too large, slings can be bulky, making them a little awkward to wear, especially for petite women.
Try your sling on and learn to use it before your baby is born. Practice putting it on and taking it off. Put the sling on, adjust all the straps, and then give the seat and the straps a good tug. All straps, buckles, or snaps should remain securely in position. Use a doll to help you become familiar with the different positions you can use to carry your baby in a sling. You want the sling to be safe and you want to feel secure wearing it. Relax and let yourself get used to how a baby sling feels—it probably feels different from anything else you've ever worn. Keep your arms under the sling and your baby until you feel more secure wearing it and moving around with it on.
You want to be a baby-wearing expert before your baby arrives, so you can enjoy the closeness and comfort of using a baby sling without frustration. The more comfortable you are, the happier you and your baby will be.