Choosing a baby carrier is daunting enough at any size. There are just so many options, and prices that range from about £20 to several hundreds of pounds! Add the anxiety that ‘one-size’ items often don’t fit plus-size frames, and its tricky to know what to pick.
This is especially true since most slings are likely to be bought online, so no chance to try on. Although this does mean you are at least protected by distance selling regulations if it’s not right!
Given that I’m hardly an expert on the subject of slings and baby carriers, I asked BigBirthas Facebook group member and consultant with JenniBean Sling Consultancy, Katy Gearing, to give us some pointers.
If you’d like to read what our group said about their favourite slings, the BigBirthas Babywearing Recommendations page is here.
Katy’s advice on choosing a baby carrier:
When preparing to fall down the sling rabbit hole, be prepared to try more than one.
It’s a bit like shoes, or cars, or pens. There’s going to be one you like using, but sometimes it’s about the 4/5/6th you get you realise that the others did the job but this one is “THE one”.
Ask around for recommendations. but don’t be set on a sling if someone says it’s “the best” because the best for them may not be the best for you. Ask WHY they like it, why did they recommend it, have they tried anything else?
Some people find one they “can get on with” and never move on. Which is fine. But it’s great to have a starting point with a few options.
Be cautious with eBay/Secondhand Sales and Cheap Online Offers
Pick something within your budget. The second hand market for slings is massive, and ergonomic slings hold their value well, so selling on when you are finished is easy too, but
one word of caution, do not buy Ergo carriers or Manducas from eBay. And never buy these second hand from anywhere without an authentic original receipt/proof of purchase.
Sadly there are fakes, and they are good fakes. But they won’t be safety tested, and the buckles, stitching or even the dye could be unsafe.. (Steer clear of the “Wish/Mama/AliExpress/Shein/Facebook sponsored ads carriers too!)
What do you want your sling to do?
What are you looking for? Do you want something for quick up and downs, just in the house, all day long dog walks, sharing with another person, for twins/multiples, two children of different ages (tandem carrying), supported piggy backs, or for breastfeeding on the go……(most slings will do all of these with practice).
Baby’s legs in the ‘M’ or Frog position
The biggest bit of advice I would give is make sure it supports babies legs in the ‘M’/froggie/knee to knee shape. (Think deep squat position with knees higher than bum).
This is optimal for babies development and what’s known as “hip healthy” or ergonomic.
A sling that doesn’t meet the above positioning won’t cause hip dysplasia, but it could be unsupportive to underdeveloped hip sockets or exacerbate undiagnosed conditions.
How can a sling consultant help?
Working with a sling consultant can help you achieve whatever it is you need/want to get from carrying your baby or child.
A sling consultant is trained and insured to fit, teach and safety check, pretty much the whole market of slings. From a newborn to a preschooler and beyond. They will know which sling works for which scenarios. They can teach you to put your child in and get them back out independently.
Consultants can compare different slings for their qualities or downfalls. So if you like X on a carrier but don’t like Y, they can help find another that has X, doesn’t have Y and perhaps has ABC too. And if they don’t, they have back up to ask other sling consultants around the country.
The best place for slings and a consultant is a sling library, most often found with a cuppa in hand at least three carriers round their waist and a smile on their face! There is a directory of sling consultants/libraries in the works at present. But initially the best way is to search on Google or Facebook for- “*insert your closest town/city name* and sling library” or ask in local parenting group.
Sling libraries are fabulous ways to gain knowledge, support and social interaction too. Often accompanied by cloth nappy, breastfeeding and gentle parenting support services and cake!
Thanks to Katy Gearing, Consultant with JenniBean Sling consultancy and to all the lovely BigBirthas members for sharing their gorgeous babywearing photos!