This weeks #featurefriday comes from Jillyan Graham. Jillyan is a sling consultant, trained by Slingababy. She's part of the team at Baby On Borders, a community organisation supporting sling use in the Scottish Borders. Baby On Borders’ fortnightly Sling Surgery and Social (Fridays 2 – 4 at Tweedbank Community Centre) offers advice, information, BabyBox wrap demos, and lots of cake! Visit the website www.babyonborders.org.uk and like the Facebook page www.facebook.com/babyonborders. Jillyan also runs Carry Me Round consultancy and sling library, offering fortnightly sling hires, private consultations and group workshops. Visit the website www.carrymeround.co.uk and like the Facebook page www.facebook.com/carrymeroundfrom. As it's Babywearing Week we asked Jillyan how using a sling could help, particularly if you are struggling with your emotional and mental wellbeing after baby.
It’s International Babywearing Week and this year the theme is Babywearing has......
People around the world are sharing their experiences about how using a sling helped them. This can be anything from the everyday, such as helping to walk the dog or do the dishes, to helping bond with your baby while suffering from postnatal depression.
There are a myriad of reasons why people choose to use a sling, and many benefits to using one. Studies show that a carried baby sleeps more and cries less. Carrying helps regulate their temperature and heartbeat, can provide relief from reflux, and helps with the healthy development of hips, spine, core muscles and language skills. It allows you to be hands free, it’s good exercise, helps with bonding, can aid breastfeeding, and reduce the symptoms of PND.
Having a new baby can be an anxious time and the rates of PND and anxiety are increasing. Our modern hectic lifestyles are often forced to change dramatically when a baby comes along – there is often pressure to return to normal as quickly as possible or have an “Instagram perfect” life, and pressure to put baby down and for them to become independent as quickly as possible.
Using a sling can help alleviate some of this pressure. It allows you to get out and about and carry on with life to a certain extent. It can help you to embrace the fourth trimester, that time when newborns want to be held close, and can help mimic the conditions of the womb. Keeping your baby close helps release oxytocin in both of you, a hormone which is important for bonding and attachment, it also reduces depression and anxiety. So using a sling has a calming effect on both baby and caregiver.
There are many different types of carriers to choose from; from the stretchy wrap in the Baby Box to well-known brands of buckle carriers, such as Ergo and Tula. But remember that choosing the right carrier for you is like trying to find your perfect pair of jeans; what fits and is comfy for one person might not be right for you.
Whatever carrier you use it's important to consider safety. Here are some guidelines:
Position your baby upright and high on your chest; the top of their head should rest against the hard part of your chest, close enough to kiss.
Their face and airway should be visible, with nothing covering it.
You should always be able to get two fingers between their chin and chest.
The sling should hold baby snugly against you in an upright position, and baby should not be slumped.
Photo courtesy of Je Porte Mon Bebe, showing the ideal positioning for a newborn in a sling.
When positioning your baby try to mimic your baby's natural “m” position, where they tuck their knees up. Gently tilt baby’s pelvis towards you so their knees are higher than their bottom. The sling should provide support all the way to baby's kneepits, until the age of 1.
Dress your child appropriately, layers and light clothing is often best. Most people tend to over dress children in slings, which can be dangerous. Remember that one layer of sling is equal to one layer of clothing and you’re sharing body heat. Make sure you protect extremities from the sun and cold. Wide brimmed hats and long, cool cotton clothing work well in the summer, a cosy hat and baby leg warmers or a pair of your socks are great ideas for the winter. Avoid using a padded snowsuit in a sling as these can affect baby's position and cause dangerous overheating.
If you’d like some help using your baby box sling, or reassurance about anything sling related, pop along to the Baby On Borders Sling Surgery in Tweedbank. We run every second Friday and have a Baby Box demo at 3pm every session. If you'd like to hire a different carrier then come along to a sling library session or book a private consultation to try alternative options. Carry Me Round, the sling library in the Borders, has a wide range of slings from newborn to preschool.