run out of womb

... learning how to be a mum from scratch

Tuesday 28 July 2015

Slinging it

When I was pregnant, I imagined spending maternity leave days jumping on and off the Tube (baby in sling), wandering around galleries and museums (hands free, baby in sling), and dashing around shops (arms swinging, baby in sling). And then along came tiny man, weighing six pounds 13, and I did indeed hoist him into soft Caboo sling and walk around the house, getting him to sleep, and slipping him into it as I hung up the washing in the garden.

But when I tried to go for a walk with it, my back started to ache. Uh oh, I thought - he's only a few weeks old and weighs the same as a few bags of sugar - and the sling dream started to fade. We used the Caboo out and about a bit, but I knew I wasn't confident enough to take the baby out for a day with just a sling to transport him.

So I tried a hand-me-down Baby Bjorn. Black, and stained with another baby's sick, it didn't look as earth-mama, but it did have a bit more support. Still, though, when I walked to some local shops, after an hour my back was aching as if I'd been hauling around an elephant all day. 

What next? Well, you can buy the classic Baby Bjorn for £60, much less if you find a second-hand deal, so investing a whopping two times that in a new bells-and-whistles BB One* carrier sounded painful.

After trying it out though, it turned out the reduced back pain is worth any wallet pain. The BB One has thick hip straps - like a hiking backpack - which means you're not taking all the weight on your shoulders. It's adaptable into lots of positions too, so you can carry a newborn, then a bigger baby facing outwards, and even a toddler (it's suitable for those up to aged three) on your back. If you're stronger than me...

Go for one from the "ice cream range", as mine is in the pic above, and you also steer clear from the boring standard black baby carrier. Although, being five foot two, I do think I look a bit like Arietty Borrower behind the sling.

How it works:
Newborns (0-4 months/min 3.5kg) face inwards, legs dangling down.
Older baby (4-15 months/max 12kg) face inwards, legs dangling.
Aged 4-36 months/max 15kg: face inwards, legs out wide thanks to a fabric flap.
Aged 5-15 months/max 12kg: face outwards, legs dangling.
Aged 12-36 months/max 15kg: on your back, legs out wide.

I walked around the Tate Modern for three hours yesterday with not-so-tiny man in this sling - without pain. It meant he got to appreciate Kandinskys stare hard at random tourists, without just gazing at his buggy walls, and he slept for longer than usual too.

Other pros? The padded waistband and strong clips feel sturdy and secure for you and the baby; there are lots of positions for growing kids. 

But there are some cons: you have to pull the sling on like a top, over your head, which requires both hands unless you're Houdini - making it tough if you're out alone. Breast-feeding mums can't feed whilst wearing it - which again could be a problem if you're out alone as you'd need someone to hold the baby whilst stripping out of and then into the sling. Other slings also have a pocket, which is good for carrying keys or money etc - but this one doesn't. 

They're niggles, though, if you're after a comfortable way to carry your baby without always schlepping a buggy around - and after testing three slings, this is the one I like best.

* Item sent to Run out of Womb for review. Rest assured, though, that I'm seriously gobby and would never rave about something that's rubbish.
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