As I was getting ready for the birth of baby #2, I often asked friends of two for advice on what were the “must haves” this go around. One of the most common answers was a baby sling. So you can imagine my delight when my good friend Jen P got me one as a shower gift just before the big arrival! I had to laugh as I read the card though … the gift came with one condition – I had to write a review for CSP! No problem, I thought … that was until I realized the Hotsling came with an instructional video. That was a little intimidating!! I mean what new mom really has time to sit down and watch a video on how to operate something that should just “slip on and go”?
You may recall from one of my earlier posts that Ryanne was a super fussy baby. As a newborn, she constantly wanted to be held. So one day when I was at my wits end, I decided it was time to learn how to use my sling. When the baby was sleeping, I slipped in the DVD and armed myself with the beautiful cylinder of fabric (they really do come in some cool designs!) The video was not so intimidating once I started watching – actually it was quite helpful to see someone else fold and twist the fabric around in just the right way. I did have to pause and rewind quite a few times to keep up with what they were doing. There are a bunch of different ways you can use the sling, in varying positions for the baby based on his or her age. They also come in 7 different sizes based on your size (not the baby) and getting the right size for you is key.
By the time Ryanne woke up, I was anxious to try it out. She was just about 2 months at the time and I will say, I think that’s a bit too young for this particular sling. She kind of balled up in there and I was afraid she wouldn’t be able to breath. There is a very good chance I just didn’t follow the directions correctly on how to position her at that age, but I didn’t feel comfortable using it just yet. I switched to the Baby Bjorn that had been given to me as a hand-me-down and that actually worked much better for a newborn in my opinion.
Fast forward a few months and I thought I would try the sling out again. This time it worked beautifully when the baby was a bit fussy and just wanted to be held. I slipped her in the sling (she fit much better) and she instantly settled down. Within minutes she was sound asleep! This allowed me to keep her close and cuddly, yet still have my hands free to type on the computer or eat dinner.
I’ve since used the sling a number of times, particularly when she needed to be held for an extended period of time. I’ve only tried the one position as I think at 6 months she might still be too small for some of the other uses. My only complaint is that my back starts to hurt after a while if I’m standing or walking around with her (and she’s even on the smaller side – only 14 lbs). I’m also afraid to lean over with her in it because I don’t want her falling out. I feel like she’s much more secure in the Bjorn if we’re doing something a little more active. Ryanne seems to really like it and it sure beats carrying her for long stretches.
Bottom line – in my limited experience, the sling is great for babies 3-4 months and up. It’s super fashionable and babies enjoy the cozy comfort snuggled up to mom. I wouldn’t consider it to be an every-day-hands-free mechanism though if you’re trying to keep up with an older toddler because I don’t feel like the baby is supported well enough for a lot of bending over (which is inevitable when keeping up with a toddler). If possible – the best solution would be to have a Bjorn type carrier in addition to the sling. Both have pros and cons and can work great together. Try borrowing from a friend or better yet, check out the Smart e-place for one from a fellow reader! You can check out Hotslings on their web site or I’ve seen them sold locally at most baby stores such as the Milky Way, USA Baby and I think even Babies R Us.
I look forward to continuing to use the sling and try it as Ryanne gets older, particularly the hip carrying position. Let us know what your experiences have been!