Top tips for buying your first baby carrier or sling

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1- Think about how you will use your baby carrier

You want your hands free? baby suffers from colic? You have older kids to take care of or drop off at school? You suffer from back pain? You can't get a buggy on the bus? You would like to breastfeed discreetly on the go? You have a high-need baby?

2- Research the various types of slings.

Our ebay guides (more coming soon) should help you understand the various types of slings, the strengths and weaknesses of each type. A  wraparound sling is very versatile sling, offering endless possibilities to carry your child on your front, back and hip, and excellent support for parent and child. They are ideal if you suffer from back pain. A ring sling uses one-shoulder carry, convenient for discreet breastfeeding on the go. A pouch sling is very easy to use and convenient if baby is coming up and down. A mei-tai or chinese-inspired carrier can be a great choice for toddlers, making it easy to pop baby on your back.

3- Buy from a reputable vendor, registered as a business seller. Ask questions.

You will be carrying your baby in that sling, his or her safety is paramount. The choice of fabric, the way it's seamed or hemmed, tested by lots of mums in different situations.  Buy from a reputable ebayer with a proven track record, don't go for a bargain at the expense of your baby's safety.
Don't hesitate to ask questions to your vendor, how they choose their fabric, how the slings are tested for comfort. Does it come with their own set of instructions or do they refer you to someone else's site? Will they be available to help you once you've received your sling?...

4- Choose a colour you like.

It sounds silly but chances are you will be wearing your baby carrier day in and day out for months or years.  So choose a baby sling that's going to make you feel good. You might want to think about your partner's tastes. Some slings can be worn by parents of different sizes so you might have to share your new sling!

5- Read the instructions carefully

Even if you're instruction-challenged as I am, take the time to read the instructions sent with your baby carrier carefully. There should be a safety paragraph, read it carefully.

6- Take your time

Now, you have your sling and your instructions. Take your time, don't try to rush through it, you didn't learn to drive in one day. Learning to carry your child is similar to breastfeeding, so natural and yet we need to re-learn the art of carrying our children. Choose the carry that appeals the most and practice step by step.

7- Still unsure?

Ask questions to the manufacturer. Tell them how you would like to use your sling, how old and how heavy your child is, if you have older children, if you suffer from back pain... They should have been using their slings for years, testing it in all kinds of situations. Most manufacturers have a team of testers of mums of different sizes with children in a wide age range, they should be able to advise you whether their sling is the best suited for you.

8- Take a photo of the sling in use

You've bought a high quality baby carrier, read the instructions carefully, practiced for a few days with your baby. And yet, it's not perfectly comfortable. Try taking a photo of you carrying your baby in your sling and send it to the manufacturer. In our experience, it's the best way to advise you how to find the perfect fit with your sling. We've had very good results in the past.

9- Things to watch for your comfort

For maximum comfort, a baby sling should be worn fairly tight. For slings that can be adjusted, pull on the fabric to bring the baby close to you. This will ensure that the centre of gravity stays within your body and you don't have to lean to compensate.
Make sure the baby is held high. Their bottom should be at the level of your navel, their head at "kiss level": just tilt your head forward to kiss their forehead. Their legs should be wide apart and knees higher than their bottom. This frog-like position supports their spine. Their legs are on your hips so your legs should not be hitting their legs as you walk.

10- Get some help locally

Use Sling Meet to get in touch with other baby wearers in your area. Learning from other parents is the best way to make the most of your sling and carry your child comfortably well into their toddler years.

Text Copyright Calin Bleu 2005-06. Photos are copyrighted. All Rights Reserved, they can not be used without the author's permission.

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