Many parents choose baby slings over other baby carriers. Proponents of baby slings feel that slings keep the baby close to the parent's body which is important for emotional development. They feel that babies in slings have their needs met faster than other babies and those babies are better integrated into daily life, which again adds to their development.
Care givers who wear their baby in slings have their arms and hands free for chores or to care for other siblings. You can meet your baby's need of wanting to be held all the time, while still having your hands free for other things. Try to keep in the mind the following tips when shopping and buying an infant sling.
- If possible, try on as many slings as you can with your baby. Practice the things you will do with your sling on-holding the hands of siblings, squatting, walking. Imagine breastfeeding in this sling. Will it be comfortable and easy to get your baby into position? In addition, some slings work better for taller women, while others are better for larger women. Some slings are not recommended for petite women, while others are perfect for them.
- Try to figure out how you want to wear your baby. Some slings only allow the typical over the shoulder position, with the baby at your side, while others allow you to wear your baby on your back, front, hip or side. Some slings are perfect for carrying multiples-one on each hip.
- How big a sling will you need? Are you putting an infant in it, or a toddler? Do you want to keep using your sling when your baby is a toddler? If you want a sling for a toddler, you may want to look at adjustable ones. If you are using a sling for a toddler, you will want one that supports your toddler's weight and allows you to hold your toddler's weight with little discomfort.
- Do you plan to breastfeed while your baby is in the sling? Some people find adjustable slings helpful, while others find slings with padding more helpful for breastfeeding.
- Do you like the idea of a sling with padding in the shoulder? Many slings have padding that can help if you are carrying your baby for long periods of time. But many people dislike the extra padding, and the extra weight.
- How long will you be wearing the sling every day? If you will be wearing your sling all day long, you will need one that is comfortable and distributes your baby's weight.
- Do you want a transportable sling? Do you want a sling with a pouch or one that can be folded up to put into a diaper bag or purse?
- What are you going to be doing in your sling? Housework, gardening, cooking, caring for other siblings? If you will be very active while your baby is in his sling, you will want a sling that keeps your baby close to your body.
- What kind of fabric do you want? Do you want a sling that matches your clothes? Or do you want a basic color? Do you want a sling with a pattern or a fashionable sling? Do you want a sling made of organic cotton?
- Do your research. To find the ideal sling, talk to your friends and family to see if they can recommend a sling to you. Talk to people in baby stores, and your pediatrician. If you used a doula, she might have some ideas for slings. If you can't find anyone to talk to, try to find a natural mommies club or a La Leche League meeting in your area.