Babies have been carried since babies have been born, yet, in our culture, babies are carried in their car seats (what some call “plastic buckets”). Wouldn’t it be nice to bring our babies close again? To remove the foot-wide space of plastic and embrace the tenderness that is our child? All too soon, those babies grow up and are gone; hold them tight while you can.
The way most of the world carries their children is with a sling. From rebozos in Latin America to the kangas of the Maasai, baby wearing is very much the norm. Our own culture and even our local community is seeing an increase in baby wearing. Where does someone start who has never worn a baby before?
Many different types of slings exist. Some are simple cloth, others silk (the choice of materials are endless!), some with padded shoulders, some that go on the front of mom or dad with the baby facing in, and others facing outward. Style and comfort can be combined as you find a sling that is tailored just for you. An experienced mom or a specialty store that offers natural supplies for baby can certainly help you out.
It can take some time to get used to wearing the sling and even some time for the baby to get used to being in the sling. Practice makes for easy-going days and accomplishing things that you might not otherwise have been able to do. Laundry, shopping, and daily walks become a reality once you hit your stride with the sling. The more you wear the sling, the more you will enjoy it.
Nursing in the sling is a cinch and for those that find modesty very important. They afford mom plenty of freedom and time out in the world.
Dads love slings, too, and are able to offer mom some time alone if she is needing that. When colicky evenings traumatize new parents, a sling can offer the baby some tender swaying and some semblance of the memory of being in the womb. Either parent is able to head to the beach or walk around the block, allowing mom or dad some exercise and head-clearing time.
Many wonder if carrying a baby on one hip or the other is tiring, but most who regularly carry their children find it surprisingly easy; not quite the same as when carrying a baby when they are on the inside, which can be more uncomfortable. The extra weight of the baby is evenly distributed as the sling curls around your back and sides.
Slinging a baby is merely one part of what has become known as Attachment Parenting… a belief that the child’s needs are at least as important (if not more so for a time) than the parent’s needs. AP families are also known to co-sleep, have extended nursing of their babies, child-led toilet learning, and even a concept known as un-schooling (allowing your child to live and learn in life, not in a structured school environment). But others who don’t necessarily ascribe to the complete AP picture can benefit from slinging their babies and might consider a trip to the local sling shop for a fitting.
After all, don’t we all love to be held?