When I found out I was pregnant for the third time, one of the things I got really excited about was being able to do babywearing again. For those of you who don’t know, babywearing is the term used when talking about using a sling or baby carrier. Essentially, you are ‘wearing’ your baby as they are strapped, wrapped or tied to you in their sling. I didn’t babywear with Leo, I didn’t really understand how the baby didn’t just fall out of the sling and the idea of it made really anxious so we just stuck with the pram. With Alex, I went to a sling library as I knew I was going to need my hands free to look after Leo too and I was shown the (not actually that complicated) proper way to wrap a sling and we were off, my love affair with babywearing began. Me and Alex were babywearing until he was around 20months old and we loved every second (I have a whole post here about why I love babywearing so much). Now I am babywearing again with Tilly and I love it as much as ever. Keeping your baby close in a sling keeps them happy and content and makes life so much easier for mama too – especially if you are like me and have other children to look after. Babywearing can feel overwhelming when you first start, there are so many different types of carriers: woven wraps, ring slings, soft structured carriers, buckle carriers and the list goes on. There is one type of sling though that I absolutely love for the newborn days, I used it with Alex and am using one again now with Tilly. My favourite sling to use with a newborn is a stretchy wrap. In this post I will explain why, in my opinion, this is the best kind of wrap to use when you have a newborn.
My favourite baby sling to use with a newborn.
Stretchy wraps are a long piece of elastic type material that you wrap around your body in a certain way to create a little pocket for your baby to snuggle inside against your chest. There are many different brands of stretchy wrap and they come in lots of different colours and the materials and amount of ‘stretch’ varies from brand to brand. Learning to tie the wrap is a bit of an art but there are lots of videos on YouTube or you can go to a sling library and have a professional sling consultant show you how to tie it. There’s a lot of crossing the fabric over your body and a bit of fiddling about but, honestly, once you have done it a couple of times it becomes so easy. I could put my sling on now in the dark with my eyes closed, once you have it sussed it just becomes second nature.
I have used a Kari – Me stretchy wrap and am now using a Joy and Joe stretchy with Tilly. The Kari – Me was definitely stretchier, you could stretch the fabric in both directions, whereas the Joy and Joe only stretches one way. Again, it just takes a little bit of practice with each brand of sling to get it tied perfectly but once you’ve worked out a way that works best for you then it is so so easy.
Why a stretchy wrap, you ask? What about a woven wrap or a buckle carrier like the ErgoBaby? Well, I love a stretchy wrap with a newborn because it really imitates the womb environment that baba has been used to for the last 9 months. Baby can hear your heartbeat and they are held close and snug against your chest. This is the case with other wraps too but a stretchy wrap is great as it can be tied before putting baby in: with a woven wrap you need to wrap it around your baby, if that makes sense. You can tie your stretchy wrap at the start of the day and it’s ready then for you to pop baby in whenever they want and you can take them out without having to untie it all either.
Newborns need to feed a lot and if you are breastfeeding and feeling really clever you can easily feed in a stretchy wrap with a bit of adjustments to how tight it is. I personally don’t do this but if I know baby is going to go straight back into the wrap after a feed then I just leave it, take baby out and the fabric can easily be moved out of the way while you are feeding. With a woven wrap you would have to take the whole thing off and tie it all over again once baby has finished feeding. I love with the stretchy that once baby is done feeding they can be put straight back in the wrap.
When tied correctly, a sling is the perfect place for your baby. They are close to you, they can have constant skin to skin with their cheek against your chest and they will be snug as a bug. Having a newborn is really tough but using a sling can really make life easier for you. Having your hands back to eat a sandwich, put the kettle on or play with your toddler can make those early days with a newborn much easier to navigate.
I understand what works for one parent may not work for another and I also understand that slings aren’t for everyone. All I am saying is that, for me, my stretchy wrap is an absolute live savers and I would be finding life with three children so much more difficult if it weren’t for babywearing.
Do you use a sling? What is your favourite type of baby carrier? Please share any tips and advice in the comments for new parents who are thinking of giving babywearing a go for the first time.