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All about baby slings and carriers

A few days ago, Vancouver Mom had a chance to catch up with Alison Cross about Buddha Baby Gear Ltd., the company she started with Paula Violi. Alison gave us her pointers when it comes to baby slings and carriers and baby wearing in general.

Vancouver Mom: What are the benefits of baby wearing?

Alison Cross: Personally, I had tendonitis in both wrists and a high needs baby; a baby that needed all sorts of bouncing, swaddling and “cooing” to make her stop crying. The only way I could carry her was in a baby sling and in the baby sling she was happier, secure, fell asleep easily, and I could nurse without pain in my wrists. There is a lot of research to suggest that babies carried in a baby sling grow faster and develop more quickly intellectually because they feel secure. And of course baby wearing gives Dad a great opportunity to bond with his new baby too.

VM: What are the pros and cons between a baby sling and the other types of baby carriers?

AC: When you remember your baby has been curled up in the womb for nine months the last thing you want to do is dangle your baby from her crotch in a rigid carrier – it can lead to hip and spinal problems. Select a baby carrier that can be used in different ways, which allows you to choose the best position for your baby’s developmental stage.  Some parents have a range of baby slings or carriers – personal preference does play a role – usually as the baby gets older and heavier.  Heavier toddlers do well in something like the Ergo.

VM: What should moms be aware of with the different baby sling and carrier options?

AC: Ring slings are made in non-stretchy fabrics that don’t move with you. Rings may ride on your shoulder, which can be uncomfortable and difficult to adjust with baby in the ring sling.

Baby wrap carriers are great but the long lengths of fabric can be unmanageable and often unnerve women from wearing their baby.  You don’t need a PhD but you do need a lot of practice.

Rigid carriers are carriers where baby hangs from crotch, which can lead to hip and spinal problems. Some may be appropriate for older, heavier toddlers. Many however are uncomfortable for parents to wear and cause back pain.

Pouch slings are convenient for short periods of time. Since the weight of the baby is supported by one shoulder, your chiropractor may notice a difference in your shoulder blades after extended use.  Smaller babies get lost in the deep pocket of the pouch. It’s important that the pouch is the right size for the babywearer. If it’s too big baby will be bouncing against your leg as you walk.

VM: What should people look for when buying a sling?

AC: You know a sling works for you if:

  • Is it easy to use?
  • Are you and baby comfortable?
  • Does the fabric stretch and move with you or does it dig into your shoulders?
  • Can you carry baby close to your body? That way you avoid back pain.
  • Is it the right size?  If it’s too big, baby will be knocking against your knees, too small and you’ll feel constrained. You want a snug, comfortable fit.
  • And of course is your baby happy?

Be sure to try it for the first time when baby isn’t fussy so she can get used to it.  You may have to try it a few times – don’t give up!

Alison Cross is co-owner of Baby Buddha Gear Ltd., makers of the Baby Buddha Stretchy Carrier and based in Vancouver, BC.

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