Keeping baby close and other benefits of slings

Sian Crips, Georgia Perry and Abi Robinson, from Oaklands School, Waterlooville, celebrating their A-level results. Picture: Habibur Rahman PPP-170817-140116006

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Whether you’re expecting your first bundle of joy or chasing a team of toddlers, choosing to use a sling can be a child care revelation.

Elizabeth Cahill, of Southsea Slings Ltd, has explained why so many parents are keen to get up close and personal with their little ones.

Aside from the clear advantage of convenience, when a baby, or two, join the family, having both hands free becomes a luxury!

The list of benefits to both parent and child is endless, from aiding recovery from postnatal depression to reducing the risks of plagiocephaly.

Carrying your newborn safely and comfortably makes it possible to recognise and respond to their needs quickly, meaning fewer tears and less time spent trying to soothe and satisfy.

Using slings is a handy skill for breastfeeding mothers and the perfect way to get all the skin-to-skin time baby needs.

It’s also a particularly beautiful way for dads to bond.

Carrying also proves successful time and again in helping babies with colic, reflux and wind.

Having baby in a well supported, upright position with the gentle movement means gravity can work its magic, sending milk and stomach acids down and trapped air up.

And it doesn’t have to stop when they stop being babies.

Giving your tired toddler a piggyback won’t mean your arms are two inches longer by the time you get home, as correct high positioning in a suitable back carrier can make for a pain-free ride.

And positioning is key.

Key developments of a baby’s spine and pelvis take place in the early years, during which time the optimal position for baby is with a curved back, knees above hips and legs apart: a straddled squatting position.

To find a carrier which best supports baby’s development and your body shape, it’s a good idea to try various styles.

The majority of high street slings have a narrow seat and narrow shoulder straps, meaning a poor spinal/hip position for baby, and poor back support for you.

Online it is easy to browse through beautifully-designed and expertly-made slings – ring slings, stretchy wraps, woven wraps, mei tais and soft structured carriers to name the most popular.

It can be quite overwhelming! To help you through the jargon and on to cuddles on the go, there’s plenty of help out there.

In Portsmouth, Southsea Slings Ltd (southseaslings.co.uk) a team of babywearing consultants, hold a monthly library service every third Wednesday of the month from Havelock Community Centre, giving you the chance to try before you buy from a range of different carriers.

They also hold regular workshops to make sure you get it right every time.

There are also lists of babywearing consultants, libraries and groups available at babywearing.co.uk, ukslinglibraries.co.uk and slingguide.co.uk.