A Life in Slings

Before I had my daughter, I don’t think I’d even heard the word ‘babywearing.’ I certainly had absolutely no idea what a big part of my life these slings were to become. I had never seen a Facebook group about slings, or heard of a slingmeet or sling library. I had bought two slings whilst pregnant, a Babybjorn, because everyone has heard of those, and a stretchy Moby wrap, as I had a couple of friends who had used those with their babies. I had never watched a YouTube video on how to use a sling, or heard of TICKS safety guidelines. Nobody showed me how to do it, I just read the instructions that came with the slings I’d bought and obviously thought that was sufficient.

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I didn’t really leave the house for the first couple of weeks of my daughter’s life.  When I did I kept her safely in her car seat with the travel system. At two weeks and two days old, I was cajoled into heading to the beach for a walk. At this point my mental state was pretty fragile, and the idea of trying out the sling for the first time was too much for me to deal with, as to be honest I would have rather been at home in bed, so it was actually my husband who wore our daughter for the very first time, in the Babybjorn, on the beach.

I didn’t brave it myself until my husband was back at work, with his paternity leave finished, and I was left at home alone with a screaming baby and I had absolutely no idea how else to survive it. And so I cracked out the Moby wrap, and gave it a go. I followed the instructions which said to use a cradle carry for a newborn baby, and I copied the pictures as well as I could. There were some atrocious pictures from the early days, where I’m surprised she didn’t obstruct her airway if I look back now. Most of them have been deleted out of shame, but this particularly awful one with my husband remains:

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We did get better with practice, honestly, and somehow we managed to keep her alive through those early weeks. If you are planning to use a sling with a new born always remember the  TICKS guidelines, and try to watch some YouTube videos on how it’s done, I particularly like the Sheffield Sling Surgery ones. Even better, get yourself along to a slingmeet and get somebody to show you how to do it properly.

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I soon worked out that my daughter was happiest in the sling at pretty much ALL times. Once this discovery had been made my life got a lot easier, there was considerably less crying, and she actually slept, even if it was only in the sling, and only if I kept moving while she slept. My next discovery was a meitai, which was fabulous, and was pretty much my sanity for the next year. It was really quick to get on and off, small to carry around, simple enough for me and my husband to use without constant fear of killing her because we were doing it wrong, and  she loved it!

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When I discovered I could also feed her in it, without anybody even realising, well that was life changing! I could be boobing, all day long, whatever else I was doing, and after all the troubles we’d had, she finally started putting on weight, and we were both so much happier.

As she got bigger we progressed to an Ergo, a soft structured carrier

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which we alternated with the meitai, and we found a little bit easier for back carries too. To be honest though we didn’t wear her on our back very much at all. I never really got to grips with how to get her up there, and it was distinctly harder for her to access her beloved boobs

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which continued to be accessed frequently, in any old situation!

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The slings also continued to be the only way of getting her to sleep, particularly for her Daddy, and she continued to have most of her naps in the sling until she stopped napping completely around two years old.

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As she grew bigger and was walking more and more, she slowly became less reliant on the slings, until this picture, which we thought was her last walk in the sling:

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However, we hadn’t accounted for what would happen once her little brother arrived. I had bought a woven wrap when she was just over a year old

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But I didn’t really use it with her, as she was far too wriggly and interested in stuff to let me spend ages trying to work out how to wrap her. When her brother arrived I was determined to make the most of a newborn to wrap, and she decided that that looked like fun!

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She even helped me with my very first ever attempts at back wrapping!

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And very occasionally tandem wrapping!

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I found it particularly useful for her though when being a big sister and not getting as much one on one time with her Mummy was becoming particularly difficult. I would feel her snuggle in close, and every part of her just relax into my body, the way she had used to do when nursing, something she had stopped by this point. It became a crucial part of helping her to adapt in those early days.

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When I first bought that Moby wrap and the BabyBjorn I had absolutely no idea what I was doing, or how to do it safely, but I also had no idea what a vital tool it would become in my parenting, in breastfeeding, in keeping my daughter safe and happy, and in helping her learn to be a big sister. It has been an absolute lifeline at times when I was really struggling, and I am very grateful for these simple pieces of material. And it seems to have become an accepted part of her parenting style too!

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