Slingin’ It

Babywearing – because cavemen didn’t have travel systems.

I try to wear CaveBaby as much as possible.  This means carrying him close to me in a suitably supportive baby carrier, sometimes to get places, sometimes just to have a cuddle, sometimes to comfort him when he’s sick or feeling a bit off.  We own a buggy but it’s gathering dust at the minute and I can’t remember the last time he was in it!

I could talk all day about the benefits we’ve got from babywearing.  He is infinitely portable in a sling.  We can go anywhere: up mountains, through rivers, on the 17a bus that isn’t accessible for buggies.  He’s happy out wrapped up close to me and very rarely gives out which makes life so stress-free. I get to have him close and smell his baby hair and nuzzle his soft warm head and kiss him for no good reason at all and he gets to lay his head on my chest to have a snooze, or he snuggles into my back or he can knead my arms with his hot little hands (sometimes not a benefit, especially when he’s growing talons that could fell a tiger, but still cute).  He will be restful in the sling in a way he wouldn’t be sitting on my lap and it’s a godsend for keeping him safe and quiet while I’m trying to do something else, especially when we’re out and about.  And on top of all that, it’s great exercise, like walking with weights the whole time!  The slings are great for distributing the weight evenly so you don’t get a sore back but you still get a workout, especially if you’re powerwalking for the naoínra pickup because you got distracted by Facebook.

There are so many types of slings: wraps (long pieces of either stretchy or woven material that you tie around the body), ring slings (that sit across one shoulder like a kind of sash), mei tais (a material panel with four long ties that you use to secure baby to body) and soft structured carriers (a material panel secured to body with buckled straps).  And then there are the hybrids: wraps converted to soft structured carriers with all different combinations of buckles and straps.  It’s a bewildering world when you start but very easy to get addicted to.  Babywearing Ireland is a good place to start if you’re interested – you can get advice and information there and hire slings to try out before you buy.  There’s also a very active Irish Facebook group.

Our babywearing career started back in May last year when a pregnant CaveMammy popped in to a breastfeeding coffee morning that’s held once a month in the cafe of the Draíocht theatre in Blanchardstown.  I was taking all the advice I’d read which said to build up a bit of a breastfeeding network before baby came along, for help, support and friendship.  This network was key for us when we ran into problems actually but sure, more of that in another post.  What I didn’t expect that day was to see so many mams wearing their babies in really cosy looking wraps.  I asked about them and before I knew it, I had been trussed up in the material and was cuddling a mini occupant who looked as shocked to see me in close proximity to his face as I was to be wearing him.  As I was four months pregnant at the time, this was my first tandem carry.

I was so impressed with the comfort of the wrap and was completely sold on the idea of being hands-free with a new baby when I had to be running after CaveBoy.  So I got myself a Je Porte Mon Bebe Bebe, a type of stretchy wrap, and waited patiently for its rider to arrive.  Now I won’t lie, there’s a bit of a learning curve to the wrapping and I spent many hours watching online demos, pausing and replaying and driving CaveHusband to distraction asking him to check knots and folds while CaveBaby roared!  In the end, I got a face-to-face demo and we flew it from there – I could now put on the wrap in my sleep. The JPMBB is suitable right up to toddler age because of the kind of fabric it’s made from.  I used it regularly from birth up to about 8 months, when it started to feel a bit too warm for the weather and it was getting kind of awkward to do serious walking with him in front.  Here he is in the woods this spring, snug as a bug:

Over the next few months, I used a ring sling for general carries and a framed hiking backpack carrier for proper walking.  The ring sling is great but can get a bit sore on one shoulder after a while and the backpack carrier, while very handy for its pockets and ease of use, is VERY bulky.  Pictures of both below:

And then along came the Tula, the carrier du jour!  The Tula is a soft structured carrier with buckle straps and we can do front and back carries in it (pics of both below).  It is so handy: he will sit comfy in it for hours, I never get sore shoulders or back and it is a cinch to get on and off.  For winter walks, we got the waterproof fleece-lined cover that’s in the back-carry photo and so he is as cosy as can be while CaveBoy and CaveCousin do their thang of a Tuesday.  Tulas rock!

In short, I really can’t say enough good things about babywearing and if CaveBaby could talk, I’m sure he’d say the same.  And listen, as if that wasn’t enough, slings might even be the missing link!

Over and out, CaveMammy.

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