It’s a minefield!!, I remember beginning to look into what a Sling was and what one would be best for me. The answer is simply there is ‘no right answer’.
It’s great to see that baby wearing has become increasingly popular and we know that the benefits are far greater than just having two free hands!! As a Chiropractor, my mind automatically starts to think about the position that the baby is held in when they are being carried.
Best Position for Baby
Being close to the parent brings huge benefit so we need to also make sure that functionally the baby is just as well cared for. When choosing what’s right for you and your baby I want to help you know what to avoid and what to look out for to ensure your baby is in the best possible position so the stress to their nerve system and spine is as minimal as possible.
The Natural ‘C’ Shape
A baby naturally has a ‘C’ shaped spine and encouraging this position especially in the early days is essential. A lot of baby ‘carriers’ whether forward facing carriers, chairs, bouncers etc hold the baby in an unnaturally upright position. This forces the spine out of the natural C shape and into a positon that puts a huge amount of stress on the baby’s low back and pelvis. The low back doesn’t begin to get its curve until the child’s spine is ready! This happens when the child starts to become naturally more mobile (crawling and then standing and cruising).
By putting your baby in a position it is not ready for there is a great increase in stress throughout the low back and pelvis. The hips tend to take a lot of this stress because they are especially delicate at this age.
The ‘M’ Position
When checking out the sling always make sure that your baby can sit in what is referred to as the ‘M’ position. So basically imagine a monkey hanging onto its mummy! Their bottom is lower than their knees and their knees are flexed (bent). The hips are ‘open’ and facing forward towards you. It’s a great idea to make sure the sling has plenty of support for you too. Bear in mind the height you are and also ideally a carrier that will allow the weight of your baby to be distributed across your body and not, for example, having the weight harnessed at the hips or the shoulders.
A ‘pre-formed’ carrier will not allow for variations very well and is aimed at an ‘average’ person (whatever that is!). I would recommend the less structured slings to allow for more flexibility and adaptability too.
So what can you do?
Going to a Sling Library is really the ideal way to find out what feels comfy and what works best for you.
Most areas now have these and a Google Search will show you lots. Reading has a great, supportive selection! You can avail these services before your baby arrives which is great and you get to borrow the slings so there is much less outlay especially if you aren’t sure if you are going to like a particular type of sling.
It works out much more cost effective but it is more than that you will get great advice and suggestions from someone with a wealth of experience when it comes to slings! They will show you how to ‘wear’ it and ideas to adapt it for when your baby grows.