Sometimes though, even when we have exactly the sling in the library stash, it doesn't work which can be a bit frustrating, especially when it should work. This is where coming along to a library session or booking a 1:1 consultation is so super handy because it is a brilliant chance to spend time finding the right sling for you.
These are some of the little things we look for when trying out a sling or carrier for the first time to ensure that it will work for the wearer and baby:
1. Age and stage of baby...
At each stage of baby's life there are differences which effect baby wearing and the sling choices. With a gorgeous new squishy newborn, we need to be super careful about maintaining the lovely curve of the spine, the still developing hip joints and the tiny head which still needs lots of careful support. When baby reaches 4 months old and they become more interested in the world we look for a sling that still supports the still tiny body while providing strength for the wearer. When baby is 6 months plus and can sit unaided, we might look for a sling which can allow for safe and comfortable back carrying. As baby enters toddler hood we want to look for something that can support the weight and wrigglyness of a toddler and allows for quick ups and downs as a toddler wants to be walking and then carried.
2. Length of baby's torso - length of the panel
As well as the age and stage of baby we consider the length of baby. I like to see the top of the panel of the carrier or sling sitting and supporting just around the back of baby's shoulders. If the panel comes up too low on baby's back there will not be enough support. If it comes up too high, baby won't be able to see and we don't want to have baby slumping down into a carrier with the panel covering the baby's face. I also like to see the panel fitting snugly against the baby's back all the way to the shoulders. So a big gap between the shoulders and the back of the panel is a no go for me, especially for a little baby as this will be providing next to no support for baby's back and neck and head.
3. Legs/width of the panel
The width of the panel is just as important. It is important (especially for smaller babies) to have knee to knee support, meaning that the bottom of the panel of the sling or carrier spreads from the back of one knee all the way to the other while allowing for baby to be in that lovely 'M' shape seated position. BUT we don't want to ever over extend the baby's legs and hips. So we must make sure that the width of the panel isn't too big for the baby. This is the same for both newborns all the way through too toddler and preschoolers. When making the transition to a toddler size carrier where to panel size is HUGE it is really important to make sure it is again not too big for the toddler.
4. Straps and fussy shoulders
For people like me who have fussy shoulders (meaning I need the shoulder straps of a sling to sit "just right" or it'll make me uncomfortable) and for those who have back problems, it is really important to find a sling which is cushy on the shoulders and back while still providing the right support for the wearers. So it is worth trying on buckles carriers which can have the straps crossed over, or a wrap where the shoulder passes can be spread, or a mei tai with wrap straps where you can place the straps just how you like them.
5. Being able to adjust the sling with ease.
When we have chosen a sling or carrier we think ticks all of the above boxes the final thing I like to make sure of is that it can be adjusted by the wearer. The general rule is that the higher and tighter the sling is the more comfortable you will be. A sling that is hanging down off your shoulders will pull on them causing aching in no time. So it is crucial that you can adjust your sling so it is just right. This sounds really obvious and that it should be hard, but paying attention to the range of motion needed to be able to adjust each particular sling (for example, being able to reach around to the top of your shoulders to be able to do up a shoulder clip, or being able to reach and pull backwards to tighten the straps of some carriers) is really important.
We would love to see you at the next library session or for a 1:1 consultation!