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Choosing a Baby Carrier

By Elizabeth Pantley, author of Gentle Baby Care and The No-Cry Sleep Solution

Most parents find a baby carrier to be invaluable during the first year of their baby's life. There are many types and styles to choose from. The different types of baby carriers fall into three main categories: slings, front packs and backpacks.

Slings
These are made of fabric and are available in a wide variety of styles. They "sling" sash-style over your shoulder to hold baby in front of you. Slings offer many benefits to both baby and parent. Here are some of the most commonly cited by experienced sling-users:

  • A sling is perfect for the newborn months, when Baby needs to be held often in your arms, as opposed to being pushed at arm's length in a stroller.

  • A sling is an excellent way to carry your baby around the house because it keeps your baby happy while leaving your two arms free to go about your daily tasks.

  • Sling carriers are multi-purpose. You can use them to carry your baby, to create privacy for breastfeeding, and to cover your sleeping baby. Some feature a tail that can double as a blanket or coverup.

  • Putting your baby into (and getting him back out of) a sling is a breeze. You can even get a sleeping baby in and out of one of these soft carriers without waking her.

  • You can carry your baby in a variety of positions.

  • Slings are small, lightweight and easy to transport.

  • Slings are wonderful to use when a stroller would be inconvenient, such as up stairs, through large crowds or narrow aisle ways, or over rough terrain or when you'll be going in and out of the car frequently.

  • Slings put your baby at the height of people's faces instead of at their knees.

  • You can use a sling right up through toddlerhood, when little legs get tired of walking.

An important note about baby slings: They can be confusing to use at first, and your baby can slide out of the bottom if not positioned correctly. Try to find an experienced sling-user, a how-to video, or a knowledgeable sales clerk to help you master the art of baby slinging. Your local La Leche League leader may be able to offer pointers, too.

Slings are very much worth the effort. I bought a sling when my second baby, Vanessa, was born. I couldn't figure it out, so I left it in the closet. When my third baby, David, was born, I attended a mother-baby class, learned how to use my sling and was immediately hooked! I used slings extensively with my third and fourth babies and found them to be a marvelous baby care tool.

- PARENT TIP -
"I put my newborn in the sling so I could sit in bed at night with my toddler and read books. It kept us all together, my hands free and gave reading time to BOTH boys!" Amy, mother of AJ (4) and Ryder (2)

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This article is an excerpt from Gentle Baby Care by Elizabeth Pantley. (McGraw-Hill, 2003)

 


 

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