You know those times when you’ve a tiny baby and you need to leave the house? You have spent most of the morning getting out of house, packing up the car, with your ‘I had to have it’ massive 5-separate-piece pram, only to arrive at the shopping centre & take everything back out. Baby cries ‘cause the car has stopped, you are sweating at the boot, trying to remember how the ‘I had to have it’ pram goes back together.
Finally, you manage to get the child into the pram, only to find, as soon as you walk into the clothes shop, the ‘I had to have it’ pram wheels are too big to fit between the rails, and the hooks on the handle for your handbag also seem to collect every item you pass by. That intuitive little baby picks up your frustration, starts to get upset, and you end up carrying the baby, while pushing the pram which has decided to do its best to wheel off in the opposite direction.
These days, as a ‘experienced’ mum (can any mum ever call themselves experienced?!) my ‘I had to have it’ pram doesn’t come shopping with us often. We have something that not only allows me to fit through those rails, while holding the baby, leaving my two hands free to hold whatever I buy. It also fits in my bag, when I’m not using it. It’s my sling, one of three that I own at the moment.
When Penny was born, and for about 5 months afterwards, we carried her in a Hoppediz stretchy wrap. I’d heard that, although popular in the shops, baby bjorn style carriers, are not the best carriers available, for either baby or parent. Once the baby grows AT ALL, they suddenly feel like a tonne weight, and the parents shoulders start to curl into a caveman type stature. This lovely wrap though, complete with incredibly thorough instructions, made my little baby, feather weight and resembled wearing a tshirt, with her tucked securely inside. There is a specific way to wrap a ‘stretchy’ for premie babies too, which is brilliant for doing kangaroo care, skin to skin.
Other slings I bought (and have since sold, slings have a brilliant resale value) were a couple of Mei Tais, which have tie-able straps. I found these great when Penny was quite small. I’ve had some ring slings too. Ring slings are incredible versatile. You can carry a newborn tummy to tummy on your front, right up to a toddler on your hip. They are easily adjusted and fold into a small bag. A ring sling is great for quick hopping in and out of car scenarios.
Since Penny was born, only 17 months ago, I have definitely noticed a rise in people using slings. A good indicator of how popular babywearing has become, was the mile long (ok, slight exaggeration, but close enough!) queue at the Wearing A Hug Fair. Hundreds of parents and families turned up, all eager to see the many stalls on display.
The bulging at the seams ballroom had loads of tables set up, dedicated to everything baby-related that you can think of. For the expectant parents, you could talk to Birthing Mamas, Neighbourhood Midwives, and even enquire with Mairead Murphy about doing a ‘preparing to breastfeed’ course. For all parents there were gorgeous handmade colourful baby clothes on display at the Squishies stall, and cloth nappies in the most fab patterns at Annie Pooh. You could even book a beautiful photo shoot with Roberta Cotter Photography, who specialises in pregnancy, birthing, and newborn photo shoots.
It is fair to say though, the majority of the enormous crowd (150 of whom got free goodie bags at the entrance) were there to check out slings. Most babies there were being carried in an array of beautiful fabrics, and carriers. Each showing a little of the personality of the baby/mother/father. A few mums had even chosen their favourite wrap to match their outfit (I was impressed with myself for having showered that morning!)
Slings could be bought at the Koalacubs stall, SoCosy, The Nurture and Bliss babywearing shop, and Kangaroo Babies. When you’d chosen how your little one was going to travel from now on, you could watch a demo from ActiveMum Sling and Dance class. A get-fit class which you can attend while wearing your baby in a sling. What great fun!
While it was an incredibly popular event, I’d say the organisers probably didn’t know what hit them. The hotel certainly didn’t….. Next year, I would expect it will be in a MUCH bigger venue, with even more enthusiastic parents. Those first time sling buyers this year may even be back to buy their second or third.
Penny is walking for the last few months, but still loves being carried in the sling. I mostly carry her in a soft structured carrier, one with straps and buckles, called a Tula. Sometimes she goes on my front, but if we are out for a big walk, she goes on my back. She can fall asleep and take an entire nap back there. Its also a handy way to carry her when I’m cooking, hoovering, emptying the dishwasher if she wants to be ‘involved’!
My husband loves carrying her too, and my mum who suffers from arthritis has used the Tula too, and found it good.
A sling is now my go-to gift for my close friends and family members when they have a baby. My newborn niece is loving her Ergo (another soft structured carrier) and I’ve just ordered a wrap for our friend who has a premature newborn. Babies love to be carried. Holding your baby as much as possible is what feels normal. Its just delicous, snuggling up to your baby as you go about your day. And most of all, shopping without the ‘I had to have it’ is a breath of fresh air!
***If you are interested in buying or researching how to use a sling, Susan recommends the following fab Irish sites: