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What is a baby sling and how do you wear one?

A baby sling is a piece of cloth, usually made from cotton or organic material, that wraps across your body to safely secure a child so you can carry your baby while your hands remain free.

Regardless of the type you use, it’s important to position baby properly and securely to avoid suffocation or injury. Baby should have his face out of the sling, in full view, and body in an upright position. Made sure that his face isn’t pressed against your body, clothing, or the sling’s fabric, nor his legs bunched against his stomach. The sling should fit snugly, offering sufficient support for baby’s back. Always check on a baby periodically that is being held in a sling.

What types of baby slings are available?

There are several types of baby slings, including over-the-shoulder and soft slings that come in different colours or patterns and different materials, most commonly breathable cotton. A ring sling uses dynamic tension, and wraps from one shoulder to your opposite hip, then back up to the other shoulder, securing with a metal or nylon ring. A pouch sling, on the other hand, is a wide piece of fabric in a tubular shape that fits over one shoulder, similarly to a sash, with a pocket inside for baby to sit. Then there are wraps that, as the name implies, wrap around the baby and wearer, and tie closed. There are other slings as well, such as sling wrap nursing pouches that are designed for newborns aged 0-6 months, and to be worn specifically while a mother is nursing.

Baby can be positioned in a cradle, hip, kangaroo, or belly to belly position. Some baby slings include features like adjustable designs, extra padding, and an outside pocket for holding essentials.

When should you use a sling with your baby, and what are the benefits?

Baby slings are ideal for babies up to 3 and/or 30 lbs., but check the manual, as each one might have different recommendations. They’re ideal for short errands when you can do without the diaper bag and/or stroller, or for short walks to the store, shopping mall, park, or social event. You can also wear one for comfort while walking around the house, or to sooth baby. They offer that all-important close contact, along with the added benefit of being able to keep your hands free to tend to other tasks, whether it’s answering a phone call, or selecting items off shelves at the grocery store.

Whichever type you choose, or wherever you wear one, it’s important to read the instructions, and make sure baby is fully secure, and positioned properly. Check on him frequently and use special care with babies under four months who have airways that are still developing.