Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Why A Sling?

Using a sling is so much a part of parenting my babies, I honestly do not know how I would survive babyhood, and certainly toddlerhood without one. Dr. William Sears has a saying about carrying your baby in a sling: When your baby is in a sling, he/she becomes a player, not a spectator. I can testify this to be true.

I just cannot get believe, in America, that we are so insistent on carrying our babies around in a car seat everywhere we go. Leave the car seat in the car and carry your baby! What I am advocating is a lifestyle, not just a handy, or comfortable, way to carry your baby when you are at a parade or on a walk.

When your baby is in a sling, it is like recreating the womb. The baby is so comfortable with your walk, the sound of your voice, your heartbeat, and being cozy against you again. I have never put a baby in the sling that didn't like it. I have no problem saying that all babies love a sling. It is about the parents being comfortable with using it. The baby knows how comfortable you are and they will let you know it.

Leave your sling in the car so that you are never caught without it. A lot of parents will keep one in the car and one in the house. If you are able to afford it, this is what I suggest. You truly will have a happier, and I believe, smarter, baby. My friend, Janet, is a great example of wearing her baby, continuously. Her sling goes on in the morning with her outfit and seems to stay there most of the day, whether the baby is in it or not. Her "pouch" is ready for the baby to jump right in. And, literally, her baby is in and out of the sling throughout the day. What a happy and well fed (physically and socially) baby.

You will talk to your baby when they are in a sling. They are right there with you and it would be unnatural to not talk to them. You'll tell them all about the items you are buying at the grocery store. They will be a part of your conversations with other people and feel included, even at a very young age. They will know they are valued.

A baby in a car seat will not be spoken to or have anywhere near this sort of interaction with his mama or with other people as a baby in a sling. Think for a minute about when you have talked to people, strangers or friends, when their baby is in a car seat (grocery cart, living room, etc.). Did you talk to the baby? You might have looked at the baby and even talked about the baby, but did you talk to the baby? Now think about when you have talked with people who have a baby in a sling on their hip. That baby was at the same level as the other people and was most definitely spoken to. They could make eye contact and facial expressions that are hard to ignore.

I have always felt that if I had my sling and an extra diaper, I could go anywhere. It makes parenting easier. The time is so short to carry our babies. I am going through this right now with my youngest. She'll be 4 in March and I feel so sad that my time of being able to physically pick her up and hold her is almost over. It's very emotional. You will not spoil your baby by carrying her "all the time." It will strengthen your relationship and you'll be grateful that you parented your sweet baby this way.


Anonymous said...

I visit your site often, and I find the contents very interesting. I enjoy viewing it and definitely plan to do some things with my next pregnancy different because of it. So thank you! The only things I tend to disagree with you on are the attachment parenting and baby wearing topics.
I have never read a child rearing book, or any baby/pregnancy book for that matter, so these thoughts are my own.
I just wonder the necessity of "recreating the womb". As you have stated in so many posts of yours, the baby will come out when she is ready to come out. So it seems logical to me that the baby no longer needs the womb. I understand they need to feel secure and most of all loved, but do you not think this is equally as possible without using the sling? I would love to hear your thoughts, and I really do look forward to your posts.

Donna Ryan said...

Thanks so much for your comments.

OK, to answer your question... I do not think that it is "equally as possible" to be attached without using a sling. Your baby will be, I believe, more secure in the sling. My youngest has outgrown her sling (trying not to cry here), and I am always working with new moms and their babies as they learn to use their sling. Darcy is OK when I am using the new sling, but if I use hers to show how a certain position works, she is so possessive! It is her sling. She misses it, I know. We both miss it.

I think that new parents are often so frustrated with this new crying baby. They sometimes are at a loss as to how to comfort the baby. I remind them to remember where the baby was before -- warm, gently rocked, didn't have all this space around them, curled up, dark, and never felt the feeling of hunger. If you can recreate, as closely as possible, the womb, the baby will be comforted. Mom and baby will "figure each other out" faster if baby is allowed to continue his/her life as similar to the womb as possible. Interestingly, in some cultures, the baby is not allowed to touch the ground until 6 or 9 months.

I absolutely believe in a woman's body starting labor when the baby is ready to be born, but I also believe that the baby is completely dependent on the mother for everything. I feel like in America we want and push our children to be independent so fast, even at just a few weeks old. I think this does not create a healthy independent person, but rather a needy child who is not sure who to trust.

I hope this is helpful. Thanks again for your comment. It's good to know that people are actually reading and thinking about what I have to say!

Alicia said...

I am one of those moms who does not leave home with out her sling. I have one in the car, just in case. I have found that I get a new sling for each baby, because there is such attachment associated with that particular sling to each child. I am so proud of my worn out slings. I laugh at myself about the first time I tried to use one. I think I was in the parking lot for 30 minutes trying to get it right. Now it is 2nd nature. Donna will never know how much of a blessing she has been to me. My oldest is 2 1/2 and I still love talking babies as if it were yesterday.

Brannon and Emily Brock said...

How long is it possible to use a sling? Up to what age can a baby still fit comfortably? I would LOVE to use one of these if a one year old can fit in them! :) We used a Baby Bjorn for several months but it wasn't long before Harrison's hands and feet began to get in the way (safety issues, especially in the kitchen!) He still loves to be carried around the house, but my back and shoulder shout no after just a few minutes.

Donna Ryan said...

Emily, I used my slings till each of my kids were about 2 1/2. As long as you can hold them on your hip, you can use the sling. It's not really that I can't still use the sling at 2 1/2, it's just that they are walking so much more and don't want to be held as much.

Really, most things will say you can use a sling until about 30 lbs., but I've seen babies hit close to 30 lbs. around their first birthday. Most don't walk yet. In my experience, you can definitely keep using a sling, really, as long as you need to.

As far as the baby reaching out for things, however, you will still have that. I will tuck their arms into the sling, but at that age, it usually doesn't last long!

I just ordered some new ones, including the chocolate brown, which everyone adores! Let me know if you'd like to order one. They are $49.95.