For thousands of years, baby wearing has been a way of life for parents. Mothers of ancient times snuggled close with their babies using cloth, bed sheets, scarves and other available materials. The lives of the mothers in the past were busy and grueling so it made sense for them to wrap their babies in a cloth and carry them as they completed their daily chores. Parents of today still maintain a busy lifestyle and while babywearing saw a decline with the invention of strollers, it is now becoming more common in America. Ironically, other countries are starting to strip the baby slings in exchange for strollers as they attempt to follow the American culture.
While indigenous people still use traditional materials as a baby sling, modern parents typically use store bought baby slings. Styles vary depending on which part of the world the family lives in. In colder climates, parents typically use thicker blanket like baby slings while parents in a warmer climate use baby slings of lighter material. Store bought baby slings come in a wide variety of styles and sometimes it can feel overwhelming to shop for them. One question to ask when shopping for a baby sling is whether or not you intend to wear your baby beyond infancy. Some slings are only meant for infants while other slings can convert to hold a toddler.
Mimicking the old cloth slings, the wrap sling is literally a piece of stretch cloth which is wrapped around the parent’s body and the baby, then tied off. This style of baby sling can be used with an infant carried in front and it can also be be used for an older baby carried on the parent’s back. This style of baby sling allows for a custom fit and wrap slings can often be worn in various ways, depending on the age of the child. An example of a wrap sling is the Boba Wrap which can be used from newborn to 18 months. Another modern baby sling is the ring sling. Similar to the wrap sling, the ring sling is a large piece of cloth however it has a metallic ring for the cloth to be fed through. This style of baby sling allows for a custom fit while offering a quicker and more convenient process of putting it on as compared to a wrap sling. Like most ring slings, the Lucky Baby Ring Sling can be worn with an infant in the front or an older child on the parent’s back.
The mei-tai baby sling is a square piece of cloth with strips of cloth meant to tie around the parent’s body. This style of baby sling can be easier to put on than other less structured slings. While this style began in the Chinese culture, a modern version is available. The Infantino Sash Wrap is a good example of this style of sling. Like many slings, this style can be worn with an infant on the front or on the back with an older baby. As the slings become more structured, they become easier to put on but they also lose some customization. The BabyBjorn Baby Carrier allows for easier use which is convenient for being in public however it does not allow for multiple positions or a customized fit such as a wrap sling.
When putting on a baby sling for the first time, read the instructions carefully and research videos as there are often instructional videos which may help you learn to use the baby sling. If possible, have your spouse or a friend help you get the proper fit. Always place your baby in a baby sling when you are seated to prevent injury. Never run or jog with a baby sling on and take care if you will be cooking or working around heat. Monitor your baby’s temperature and breathing when using a baby sling as they can sometimes get too hot. A baby sling can be an excellent tool that allows the baby to be close to their parent while allowing the parent to have freedom to use both hands. Ancient mothers used this versatile tool to make their daily life more convenient and parents of today are beginning to ditch the stroller in exchange for comfortable, practical baby slings.