How to Safely Use a Baby Sling

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How to Safely Use a Baby Sling

A baby sling is a type of baby carrier that is usually made of a soft fabric or cloth and can include straps and buckles or be a simple wrap-around cloth. The sling is used to hold a baby close to the chest leaving the arms free so that parent can easily carry the child, engage in other activities, and even carry groceries, answer the phone, or perform other activity that might be impeded by holding an infant. Slings are generally appropriate for carrying infants and very young toddlers.

There are many types of baby slings but using any baby sling safely is important for the child's safety as well as the health of the wearer. Placing a baby incorrectly in a sling can cause suffocation, and placing an older child in a sling can cause back problems. It is important to use the sling as directed by the manufacturer, but also pay attention to safety concerns while holding the baby.

Different Types of Baby Slings

There are many types of baby slings, and one of the most popular is the backpack-style sling with harness and buckle that can be adjusted to comfortably fit the wearer, and can be worn on the front or the back as desired. This sling often has holes for the baby's legs to stay out and then wraps just under the baby's arms in order to fully support the child's torso.

The wrap sling include a simple piece of fabric such as a blanket that is then tied to hold the baby. The ring sling is similar to the wrap sling, but has a ring that allows the sling to be adjusted around the shoulders. The pouch sling is a purse-like pouch that wraps around the wearer's shoulders to hold an infant.

Each type of sling has its own advantages and disadvantages but most notably, pouch and wrap slings are better for very young infants because they allow the baby to lie down. Harness and backpack styles are more suitable to older babies and young toddlers because they keep the baby in an upright position and are more secure should the wearer be active or the baby prone to moving around.

Sizing the Baby Sling

Baby slings come in different sizes to suit different sizes of people. It is important that the sling fit properly in order to facilitate comfort and safety for the baby. If two people who are different sizes will be wearing the sling, it is important to choose multiple sizes in order to preserve the safety of the sling. To find the size, one should measure from shoulder to hip in diagonal and then use weight and height to calculate the size of the sling. Most baby slings are sized S-M-L, although some types of slings do not have sizes as they are suitable for anyone.

Weight (kilograms)

Height (centimetres)

Shoulder to Hip (centimetres)

Sling Size

54 or less

164 or less

69 or less

Extra Small

54-73

164-173

69-73

Small

74-91

174-183

74-78

Medium

92-109

184-193

79-81

Large

110 or more

194 or more

82 or more

Extra Large

As a rule, not everyone fits exactly into one of the size parameters. Every person is shaped differently so it is important to find the best fitting size within the range. For example, someone who is 73 kilograms but 184 centimetres tall would be somewhere between the small and large sizes. Usually in this case it is appropriate to compare the shoulder to hip measurement and make a decision based on that judgement. Someone with a 74 centimetre shoulder to hip measurement would still be medium sized, but someone with 79 centimetres or more should choose the large size. Buyers can use this method to calculate the proper size, especially if they purchase the baby sling online.

Wearing a Baby Sling

Wearing a baby sling can be slightly confusing to anyone who is not used to them. Depending on the type of sling, it can be worn in different ways, so it is important to check any instructions or directions provided on a website or with the sling purchase. Most of the time wearing a baby sling is fairly simple so the majority of parents can easily figure out how to wear it.

A harness sling is likely have two backpack-style straps that can be slipped over the shoulders. Some models offer a connecting strap that runs between each shoulder strap to keep them from slipping as well. Generally, backpack-style slings can be worn by simply slipping on the straps and buckling any connectors together. Ensuring that the straps are snug enough to avoid slipping is important for safety.

A wrap-, ring-, or blanket-style sling is most likely to be worn somewhat differently. The pocket sling is the easiest to wear of these slings because it most likely has a simple strap that goes over one shoulder, around the back of the neck, and under the opposite arm. It is important to make sure that the strap is tight enough to keep the sling close to the body, and that the pocket is facing up at all times. A scarf-, blanket-, or triangle-type wrap should be very securely knotted in a similar manner to the pocket sling. The wearer should ensure that it is tight against the body, does not slide or slip from the shoulders, and the knots are secure. Some people choose to use pins, clips, or a bar, rod, or ring, to knot the fabric and make sure it is secure.

Placing the Baby in the Sling

Most parents have trouble placing the baby in the sling, especially for the first few times. First, it is very important to always put the sling on before putting the baby inside. Attempting to attach the sling, no matter what style it is, can harm the baby. Second, there are a couple of basic tips that can be used to make sure the child is safe in the baby sling.

Once the sling is in place, open the pocket and gently slide the baby inside. For a wrap-style sling, the baby's bottom should be in the deepest part of the sling. This is because the centre of the sling supports more weight and provides balance. It is easier to place the baby in a harness- or backpack-style sling because it is easier to decide where to place him or her. Gently slide the baby into the pocket and then reach up through the leg holes to tug legs through the opening. Adjusting the sling so that the baby is comfortable is important as well.

Safety Precautions

It is absolutely important to pay attention to the baby's position in the sling. Positional asphyxia might occur if the baby is in the wrong position, such as with their chin to their chest. The wearer should ensure that this is not a problem, and then go on with adjusting the baby for comfort. Most experts recommend a short walk to adjust the baby before taking him or her outside.

Another important safety precaution is to ensure that the baby does not slip in the sling. Many slings can slide from the shoulders if they are too loose so the wearer should ensure that any straps are adjusted to be comfortably snug around the body. Keeping the sling snug also prevents the sling from slipping to the side, which could allow the baby to fall out.

Choosing a Sling for the Baby

Most very young children including infants are comfortable being wrapped and carried in fabric. In most cases a simple swaddle can do the trick, but for parents who want to bring children outside, a wrap sling could be a good choice for carrying and swaddling the child. Older children prefer less restriction and therefore are better suited to be carried in harness- and backpack-style slings.

Usually any sling has an age recommendation for both size and weight. Children that are too large or too small might not be safe in a sling that is recommended for a certain age group other than their own. For example, a two-year-old might fall out of a sling recommended for a one-year-old, and an infant might suffocate in a sling that is too large. Paying attention to the specifications of the sling can save a child's life.

Special Considerations

While some things, such as travelling on public transport, are excellent for using a sling, others are not. It is important to never run, jog, or bike while wearing a baby sling, and equally important to never drive while wearing a sling. The sling provides no protection for the infant in case of a crash or fall. Experts recommend that anyone wearing a sling avoid bending over (wearers can squat instead), and that the baby never be left alone in an unattended sling.

If the Baby Does Not Like the Sling

There might be some cases when the baby simply does not seem to agree with being in the sling. In these situations, fussing and struggling inside of a sling can actually be dangerous to the baby. It is important to adjust the baby to the sling and if him or her seems to be having a hard time, take them out and try again for a short period later. Most babies get along quite well with a sling, especially if they are held first to reassure them that it is the parent and not the fabric that is keeping them up.

Back Pain

Some people complain of back pain while wearing a sling. In most cases this is because the sling is positioned wrong. A properly worn sling should not cause back pain so the wearer should try checking the user manual or adjusting the sling to a more comfortable place on the body. Another explanation is that the child could be too heavy for the wearer. In this case, a stroller might be a better alternative to a baby sling.

How to Buy a Baby Sling on eBay

If you are ready to purchase a baby sling you should decide a few basic things before you make a purchase. The first is the weight and length of your baby because these determine how the sling will fit. You should also consider when you will need the sling and check the shipping time. For example, if you intend to use the sling for a planned next journey by plane or for a trip, you need to ensure that the sling arrives on time. In this case, you might want to consider purchasing the sling from a local eBay seller.

Try searching for options including 'backpack baby sling', 'ring baby sling', 'baby sling', and any other specific style of sling that you would like. In most cases you can simply search and browse for options if you are not sure what you are looking for. eBay's range includes new and second hand slings so you can choose to purchase either pre-owned or brand new ones.

Conclusion

A baby sling is excellent for transporting a baby while keeping the hands free, but it can also be dangerous if used improperly. Important safety tips include ensuring that the sling is snug against the body, that it fits well, that the baby fits the sling, and that the wearer does not bend over, run, jog, or ride in an automobile while wearing the sling. There are many different types of slings but wearing the sling appropriately is important for the baby's safety and the wearer's comfort.

Buyers should consider the measurements of the intended wearer when purchasing a sling, decide if and when the sling is to be used, and then make sure that the sling arrives on time if the sling is ordered on eBay. For the baby, important safety precautions include making sure that the sling is not too tight, that the baby is neither too large nor too small for the sling, and that the child's chin is not touching his or her chest, as this can restrict airflow.

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