There’s a rumour that the 90s are coming back, wreaking neon tie-dyed vengeance upon wardrobes everywhere. Apparently, baby slings are big this year, too. One of those trends looks a whole lot cuter than the other – but you’ve got to do it right.
Cost-effective, space-saving and super-snuggly, slings and baby carriers are reportedly poised to overtake buggies as the preferred mode of baby transportation. Popularity aside, there’s still a considerable learning curve (much like figuring out how to fold up the pushchair without repeatedly smashing the pavement in frustration). Motherandbaby.co.uk breaks down the essential do’s and don’ts when it comes to rocking the sling:
DO MAKE SURE YOUR BABY IS POSITIONED CORRECTLY
Position your baby safely by following the T.I.C.K.S guideline created by the British Association of Babywearing Instructors. T is for tight, I is for in view at all times, C is for close enough to kiss, K is for keep chin off the chest and S is for supported back.
DON’T USE LOOSE FABRIC
Rather than create more comfort, loose fabric can allow your baby to slump down into awkward positioning, which, more importantly, can hinder his breathing. Instead, make sure you can always see your baby’s face when you look down but that the sling is tight enough to hug him close.
DO CHECK THE WEIGHT GUIDELINES
Always check the weight guidelines on the sling you’re buying, as it’s not a case of one size fits all. Then adjust it every time you wear it – and trade it in for a new model when your babe is bigger.
DON’T ZIP UP YOUR COAT OVER YOUR BABY
Even if it’s cold outside, refrain from zipping up your coat papoose-style to cover your baby. If he’s wearing enough of his own clothing, he’ll be toasty enough – and your own body heat will keep him warm.
DO WEAR YOUR BABY HIGH UP
The higher up on the body your baby is, the easier the sling will be on your back. Similarly, the closer he or she is to your body, the better it is for you. Remember to regularly tighten (or re-tie) the sling throughout the day; constant movement will gradually loosen the fabric knots.
DON’T FORGET YOUR LITTLE ONE’S HEAD
A newborn baby’s head always needs support, and those lil’ lollipops have a sneaky habit of getting into the worst positions when naptime hits. Whether you’re carrying or wearing your baby in a sling, make sure to support the head – and keep an eye on it.
DO MAKE SURE HE’S WEARING THE RIGHT KIND OF CLOTHES
Resist the urge to wrap your little precious in loads of layers – especially as the weather gets warmer. Rule of thumb is to go for one more layer than you’re wearing to make sure he’s at the right temperature.
DON’T LET YOUR BABY’S LEGS DANGLE
Your baby could be at risk of developing hip dysplasia if his legs dangle. The ‘froggy’ position is best for healthy hip and spine development: bottom down, knees up, and hamstrings supported by the sling.
Don’t let your baby slump either. While he will naturally gravitate towards a slight C-shape in a sling, try and keep his spine straight.
DO GET ON THE MOVE
Babies don’t like to be still. It’s a hard-learned lesson every parent will come by – even without a sling. Do a speed-walk circuit around your living room or a lengthy series of squats as you catch up on the ironing (and don’t say you never have time for exercise anymore!).
FIND THE RIGHT ONE FOR YOU
If your baby is passionately refusing the one you’ve bought, try another one. In fact, get a few, if you can spare the cash. Babies change constantly (and tend to work on whims). There are plenty of styles around. If you’re on a tight budget, or want to test-drive before you commit, try a sling library near you.
For baby carriers, check out Mother & Baby’s buying guide here.