Friday, 13 March 2015

Some say I'm obsessed with slings!

I am a little obsessed with babywearing - I've been through quite a few different slings and things. I'm not a fan of buggies, I find them big, heavy, cumbersome and steering them is a skill that alludes me. I do however use a buggy now and then. Most of these occasions (though not all) I end up wishing I'd used a sling instead. I find wearing Baby D so much easier! She is perfectly happy cuddling up to me as I walk around, she can look around and take in the surroundings or snuggle in and take a nap. I have two dogs to walk every day and I’ve seen the struggle some parents have with dog leads and buggies. There's far too much potential for dragging over of buggy or tangling with leads not to mention getting the wheels stuck in the mud. We are very happy to go off road with a lead in each hand and venture out to the local fields and nature trails. Plus carrying an 8kg baby whilst walking at a brisk pace does wonders for losing baby weight and building fitness. And bear in mind I'm a tiny 5ft slight built lady, carrying Baby D on my front (I haven't ventured into back carries yet) is extremely comfortable and doesn't hurt my back or shoulders at all. People ask me all the time "isn't she heavy?" Or "doesn't it hurt your back?" Actually no! I wear slings that suit me and distribute the weight evenly including over my waist or hips. On chilly days we keep each other warm and on warmer days we just have to wear a few less layers and we are fine.
Shopping in the supermarket is easier as I push the trolley around with Baby D on my front - she's too small for the child seat on a trolley and I'm too short to see over the car seat platform trolleys. Or going to the shopping centre I don't have to keep finding the lift, I can simply take the stairs or escalator. And I don't have to navigate around displays and racks like I do with the buggy. I'm always crashing that thing into corners of display units or having troubles negotiating  clothes rails.
The only drawbacks really are carrying a changing bag (I use a small rucksack) and getting Baby D into the sling in a car park in the cold or rain. Oh and getting weird looks off people!

I always knew I'd want to babywear. I’m not sure how or why but it seemed rather natural and normal to me. I had lots of brilliant advice from my friend Lucy about starting off with a 'stretchy' and maybe moving onto a 'buckles' when baby got heavier. She gave me some makes and models to check out and suggested I visited a sling library.

So, whilst I was pregnant I started off by doing lots of reading...not unusual for me as we know!
I found lots of people talking about high street carriers being more affordable but not very comfortable on their shoulders and backs. And when talking to the hospital physiotherapist I mentioned that I'd like to wear my baby and she told me that as Baby D was a breech baby and therefore prone to hip problems (she had to have 3 scans when she was teeny to monitor the development of her hips and to ensure she didn't have hip dysplasia) I should make sure she is carried in the 'froggy' or 'M' position with a knee-to-knee carrier rather than a dangly one and she should face me rather than out. Here's a bit more info on the subject via the International Hip Dysplasia Institute.

So, I started off with a 'stretchy' Moby with help from the lovely knowledgeable ladies at Born on Gloucester Road. I struggled a bit with it to start off with - I wasn't very good at getting the tension right and Baby D screamed her head off the first few times I used it! It really knocked my confidence but I really wanted it to work for us so I took a few photos of me wearing Baby D in it and posted them on a brilliant Facebook page: Bristol Natural Parenting and Sling Group. I got some really helpful feedback and was invited to go to my local sling library Avon & Bristol Sling Library for some help. The ladies there (Katie & Chanel) were so helpful and practical - Katie showed me how to get Baby D in and out easily and how to get the tension right. To my amazement Baby D snuggled in and went to sleep for the first time there and then. Hurray! However my husband wasn't quite so enamoured by the Moby as he found it fiddly and annoying. So, Chanel showed us the Close Caboo . It's similar to a Moby but already tied and to you tighten with rings - so I hired one from the library to see how we got on. I preferred the Moby and hubby preferred the Caboo so we ended up buying a Caboo too and having a sling each.
Me and Baby D learning at the Sling Library
A few months later, Baby D asleep whilst I do housework
As Baby D got bigger she got too heavy for the stretchy material (as I knew would happen). We already had an Ergobaby Ventus from Born that we'd been bought by my parents when I was pregnant so I popped her in that. But, as I'm so tiny I found it was too big for my little frame and the straps slipped off my shoulders - We got it when I was 8 months pregnant so wasn't able to try it on. It was however perfect for hubby, he found it super comfortable and suitably masculine. So, with limited funds I found a secondhand buckles carrier - a Rose & Rebellion with a lovely owl pattern called What a Hoot. What a lifesaver. Super comfortable, pretty and fitted me although I had to tighten it as small as it would go. 
Us with the Rose & Rebellion on a dog walk
After a few months of using the Rose & Rebellion I started to think that maybe I would like to try a woven wrap. This is something I originally completely discounted on the assumption that I'd not be capable of something so seemingly fiddly. But, a fellow mummy at breastfeeding group wrapped her baby one day and as I watched I thought 'I can do that!' They are so much more versatile as you can do all sorts of different holds on your front and back, quick ups and downs and ones for longer trips. But they are a steep learning curve. I did some reading about them and got rather confused about sizes, different fabrics, breaking-in etc. But at the same time my friend was also thinking the same as me and wanted to try a woven wrap, so we went back to Avon & Bristol Sling Library. Chanel helped me and showed me how to do a couple of carries. She also explained about sizes and fabrics and I hired a size 4 cotton wrap. 
My first attempt at wrapping at home
It's now 10 days later and I am converted! Wrapping is no where near as hard as I thought. Every day I'm getting more confident. Each time I've been for a walk Baby D has fallen asleep all cuddled up, it's rather lovely. And I've found it even more comfortable than buckles as it moulds perfectly to your shape. The only thing is wrapping in a car park...I haven't braved that yet. I found a preloved wrap that has been broken in and is super soft and am looking forward to learning new ways of wearing Baby D with that. I'll keep you updated!

Dawn x

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