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08 Dec, Thursday
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Montreal Families

Baby Slings Carry Many Benefits

When my twin daughters were born, one of our most pressing concerns was figuring out how to carry two demanding newborns at once. It took some time for my husband and me to find the perfect product to help us when we ended up alone with two babies.

One item purchased off the Internet and called the MaxiMom, was a double baby carrier. Having two babies suspended off my body made me feel like a packhorse and, worse, I couldn’t go more than 10 feet down the street without being accosted by curious strangers.
mother with baby in sling
The most practical solution came in the form of a soft cloth sling with padded “rails” and adjustable sizing, a thoughtful gift from an experienced mom. This meant we could carry one infant in our arms and keep the other snuggled into the sling.

We discovered that the baby in the sling seemed happier, and fell asleep in short order. Whether it was from the familiar sound of our heartbeats, the warmth of our bodies, the sway of our movements, or some combination of all three, we all quickly came to love the sling.

When our third daughter was born, the sling allowed me to keep her close, while still freeing up my hands for my other children. It became a cherished and much used part of our baby product arsenal.

Cloth slings have been around for a long time and anthropologists who study infant care practices in various cultures have long observed that babies who are carried often tend to fuss less. In some cultures, where young infants spend much of their time in slings, there is no word for colic, as it is simply not part of their experience.

Well-known baby expert and pediatrician Dr. William Sears, advocates the use of a sling as part of what he calls “babywearing.” This practice means more than putting a baby in a carrier when she starts to fuss; it means consistently carrying a baby against one’s body for several hours a day.

The College of Family Physicians of Canada and the Canadian Pediatric Society also recommend slings as a way to soothe fussy babies. Unlike conventional carriers like the Baby Bjorn or Snugli, infants asleep in a sling can be removed and placed in a crib without waking, a feature all new parents can appreciate.

We used our sling until our daughters were 15 months old. Even at that age, they could be carried sitting up on my hip, with their legs hanging out. This was particularly a boon with the twins, who only learned to walk after their first birthday.

These days, slings are enjoying more and more popularity and can be found in different models.
mom with baby in sling
“There are different options, from the stunningly woven fair trade fabric from India, to the easy-care more affordable knit wraps,” explains Betsy Thomas, owner of the Bummis stores located in Pointe Claire Village and the Plateau.

“Wraps can be beautiful pieces of clothing, and it’s like investing in a beautiful dress,” adds Thomas, noting that the woven jacquard and silk models have proven popular. “They are gorgeous works of art.”

Most carriers can be ajusted to suit the size of the wearer. Slings can be used for discreet and convenient nursing, and are machine washable for those inevitable spills, leaks and drips. There is a whole range of colours, patterns and fabrics from which to choose (including organic hemp/cotton mixes).

Most slings allow you to carry a baby in different ways: worn facing toward you, facing out, on your side, front or back. Parents and caregivers with back, neck and shoulder problems will appreciate the way slings can be adjusted to distribute baby’s weight more evenly to reduce strain and fatigue.

Not all parents find the fit intuitive, however, and worry that small infants might be stuffed into an uncomfortable position. Most slings are sold with a detailed instruction booklet or DVD. The sales person at a specialized baby store can show you how to put it on, get your baby in and out and adjust positions.

“My advice is go home, make sure your baby is well fed and not fussy, put on some soft baby music and just play around with different positions until you’ve got it,” suggests Thomas.

And if you aren’t sure about it once you are home, go back to the store for help or go online, where you can find plenty of resources with descriptions, instructions and support. After the first couple of times, putting baby in the sling will feel easy and natural.

 Babywearing Resources

There are plenty of resources for babywearing and slings both locally and online.

Retail locations

278 Lakeshore Rd. • (514) 674-0828
115 Mt. Royal Ave., W.• (514) 289-9415

AzureWraps Boutique
5814 Sherbrooke St. W.• (514) 509-7892

Boutik Maman Kangourou
5020 Cote des Neiges• (514) 303-9922


Tickle Tickle
(514) 824-4153

The Baby Wearer
A Canadian company with a holistic approach to babywearing. The concept is carefully explained and lots of instructions and photos are offered.

The Mamatoto Project
offers detailed instructions on babywearing, printable instructions, books on related topics and the option of shopping online.

This French-language website explains the different types of slings available, with pictures and helps walk you through the decision-making process.

This Canadian manufacturer of cotton slings offers pictures, explanations and various options for carriers, slings and wraps.


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