When it comes to children and motherhood/fatherhood, it seems to be like this: despite technology, we always come back to rescue the wisdom of the past. Want a good example of this? Just look at slings, this way of carrying babies that, despite the “modern” look, is much older than strollers.
Present in different cultures and on all continents, slings have been around for thousands of years. Although their name changes from place to place – Manta in Peru, Mei-tai in China, Amauti in Alaska… – they all have in common the fact that they bring a series of benefits for the baby and the parents, as you can see from follow.
9 benefits of slings for baby and parents
According to neuropediatrician Clay Brites, one of the creators of the Neuro Saber project, there are several advantages in using the sling, safety being one of the main ones. “Well placed and the baby well positioned, the big advantage of the sling is to avoid accidents”, he says. See below for some more reasons to bet on the sling.
- Keeping the baby in a comfortable position: as it is very versatile, the sling allows for several ergonomic positions capable of meeting different needs, such as ensuring support for the baby’s head in the first months of life, when it still does not have support. The sling also favors the development of the lumbar curvature in the child.
- Helping in their emotional development: according to the neuropediatrician, the sling simulates hugging and the way we snuggle the baby, giving him more security, which is good for his affective and emotional development.
- Strengthen the child’s immune system: This is because the immune system responds positively or negatively to emotional situations. Therefore, ensuring the baby a sense of security can even reduce the chance of him developing infectious problems.
- Increase the baby’s field of vision: unlike what happens with the stroller, in the sling the child sees the world in practically the same way as you. This makes your brain more stimulated, but in a quiet way, thanks to skin-to-skin contact.
- Strengthen the bonds between parents and children: in the first months of a child’s life, touch is one of the main forms of interaction. With the use of the sling, this exchange occurs with the parents all the time, strengthening ties.
- Leaving the parents’ arms free: it is believed that this was one of the main reasons for the emergence of slings, since, after birth, it was necessary to maintain daily activities. With the baby comfortably strapped to the body, parents can do just about anything, as long as there is no risk of falling in the activity.
- Ensuring greater mobility for parents: walking with a stroller through potholed and inaccessible streets is one of the problems avoided by the sling, which allows free movement regardless of the terrain’s relief.
- Keeping the baby close at all times: in addition to improving the affective relationship between the parents and the child, this also helps to reduce worry, as the parents are able to supervise the child most of the time.
- Provide more comfort and privacy during breastfeeding: one of the positions allowed by the sling is the one used during breastfeeding, which becomes more comfortable with the use of the equipment. In addition, due to the cloth, the sling also guarantees greater privacy for both mother and baby.
As for use restrictions, pediatrician Clay Brites advises that the sling should only be used with children from one month of age. “There are respiratory risks and risks of the baby having a lot of difficulty moving. At this age, less than a month old, he is very dependent on being carried in a proper way to avoid problems,” he explains.
What are the types of slings?
Bearing in mind that modern slings are derived from slings present in different cultures, it is not surprising that there is more than one model available. Currently, there are five most popular options, and the choice will depend on the need and adaptation of the parents and the child with each of them. Meet:
Quite popular, it consists of a long strip of fabric, usually cotton, which can vary from 5 to 8 meters. In its classic tie, the wrap sling is supported on both shoulders of the adult, while the baby remains seated, with legs spread, facing the parents.
It is one of the best options to distribute the child’s weight evenly, without weighing more on one side. On the other hand, it takes longer to fix, being indicated for situations where parents will spend a lot of time with the sling.
With two large rings at one end, this type of sling has a practical and easy adjustment, which does not require a complete tying. With the rings at shoulder height, it allows different positions, one of the most common is keeping the baby sitting or lying on the side.
Another differential of the ring sling is that, after being tied, it leaves a strip of fabric loose, as if it were a shawl. More than just looking nice, this is cool because it serves to protect the baby from the sun and to give you more snuggle during nap time.
By keeping the baby’s weight on only one side of the adult’s body, its use in short periods of time is recommended, so as not to overload the back.
Similar to the ring sling, this type of sling is formed by a malleable fabric with a kind of side seam to accommodate the baby. As it comes with this “bag”, it is also very practical, great for situations where it will be necessary to remove and insert the sling more than once.
As a disadvantage, this type of sling is also supported on a single shoulder, being recommended only for use in short periods of time. In addition, because it comes “ready”, it is less versatile. The ideal is to take the exact measurements of the baby so that it is safer.
Inspired by Chinese baby carriers, the mei-tai resembles a backpack placed in front of the body. As in the most used position of the wrap sling, in it the baby is facing the parents, with the legs open and with the back well supported, as if he were sitting. In addition to distributing the baby’s weight evenly, another advantage of the mei-tai is that it has a more intuitive lashing than the wrap sling.
As it does not have a headrest, it is not recommended for babies under three months.
It’s like an evolution or modern reinterpretation of mei-tai. The main difference is that it comes practically ready to be put on, without the need for lashings.
In addition to the straps, which resemble those of a backpack, it also has an adjustable belt and locks, as well as support for the baby’s legs.
For all that, it is one of the most practical options on the list, although it lacks versatility. In addition, as it also does not have a headrest, it should not be used with newborns.
In addition to aesthetics and practicality, other factors should be considered when choosing your sling. For example, those who have back problems should prefer models such as the wrap sling, mei-tai and kangaroo. Anyone who is going to share the use of the sling with another person should avoid custom-made models, such as the pouch sling.
how to use sling
While some slings are quite intuitive, others, such as the wrap sling and the ring sling, require some dedication when tying. Learn different ways to use them with these videos:
How to use a wrap sling (chest-to-chest tying)
In this short video, with just over two minutes, the youtuber teaches one of the most traditional bindings for the wrap sling, the so-called chest to chest. The technique is recommended for babies aged 8 months to 2 years.
How to use the sling (enveloping cross lashing)
While the lashing taught in the previous video is practically finished before the baby is fitted, in the so-called Envolving Cross, he stays on the lap throughout the process. It is worth remembering that adjustments should always be made by manipulating the sling fabric and not the baby’s legs and arms.
How to use the hoop sling in the walking position
The fact that the ring sling is a little simpler than the wrap sling doesn’t mean it doesn’t have its tricks. In a quick and didactic way, the video demonstrates, with the help of a real baby, the best way to make him safer and more comfortable with the equipment.
Regardless of the model or type of lashing chosen for the sling, Dr. Clay Brites warns of some other precautions. “It is always important to make the child’s head visible to the person holding him/her, so that it is always possible to observe if the baby is not cyanotic (or if he/she is not turning purple) or if he/she is having some kind of breathing change”, he says. According to the specialist, it is also very important that the child is always within a kiss distance.
8 sling options for you to buy online
Another important advantage of the sling is that, unlike what happens with baby strollers, it has a very affordable price, being possible to find models with prices starting at 100 reais.
Where to buy
- Wrap Sling in wine mesh with colored front, from Maria Pretinha
- Lilac Mei Tai, in Womb Luz
- Wrap Sling Soul, at Slingaê
- Double-sided Sling Pouch, at Individualli Kids
- Sling Rings Jazz, at Slingaê
- Mei-Tai 100% cotton double-sided with printed front, at Maria Pretinha
- Turquoise blue sling ring, in Belly Luz
- Wrap Sling Nix 100% cotton, at Ninho Slings
Are you going out with the baby in the sling or another type of carrier? See also 10 interesting things to take when leaving the house with the baby.
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