I have been meaning to blog about my beloved sling for awhile now. But what angle to take? Instructional? Gush-fest? The other thing that has hindered my sling posting is that I want to show you some pictures, and do I ever take pictures? No, no I don't. Poor Miriam, the second child with no picutres of her infancy.
Out of the 30-some slings I have, I knew it would shake out to one or two indispensibles. I honestly thought it would be the Kangaroo Korner fleece pouch. It's warm, it's adjustable. It supports the baby in an upright position. But, as I found out soon enough, when it's tight enough to be supportive it's too tight to allow any nursing (every body and baby are different, just because it doesn't work for me doens't mean it won't work for you). I found my non-adjustable fleece hotsling to be much more versatile: with a shoulder flip I can tighten enough for head support while the unflipped position is loose enough for emergency lactation. One modification I make for tummy to tummy is that I put the seam on my back, so there is no extra room in the pouch area, because that makes it too big. I pull the seam back around to the front for the kangaroo position.
Now that Little Squishy is three months old and has good head control, she doens't tolerate the good old tummy to tummy unless she's ready to sleep. I have often said that 2-5 months is the hardest period for babywearing: they get heavier faster than your shoulders gain strength, they are still too small to straddle your hip and they are too old to snuggle against your chest all day. Enter the kangaroo position. This is our standby lately. It requires a shoulder flip, and you have to be careful not too have too much fabric in front because it can get bunched up under the baby's neck. I hold the top rail at they baby's feet and let her slide butt first down into the pouch. Falling asleep can be tricky because her head tends to flop forward or to the side. She seems comfy enough but I feel like I have to keep an arm on her so her head doesn't flop too much.
The next phase is the hip carry. Once the baby can straddle your hip, hold her head up very well, and sit supported, she is ready to be on your hip. Some babies can start at 4 months but others aren't ready until 6 months. This is, by far, the easiest phase of babywearing. It's a shame that by the time most women get here, they have long given up on slings. It'a actually more comfortable to carry a 20 lb baby in the hip carry than it is to have a 10 lb baby in the cradle carry or a 15 lb baby in the kangaroo carry. Hip carrying was where I started with Naomi. We didn't get the hang of things until she was nearly 6 months. With a pouch that fits just right, you can wear a baby on your back and still be able to swing her around and nurse when she gets hungry. This is my big complaint with mei tais's: back carrying and nursing are mutually exclusive.
A good piece of advice I never follow is to switch shoulders frequently. I don't. I'm getting sore and uneven. Maybe I will switch shoulders tomorrow. My fear is that I will aggravate an old swimming injury, but how long has it been since I was a swimmer? 13 years? I think I'm safe. The internet is full of good advice. Take some.
With warmer weather I have more options. Slings are like shirts: they all fit differently, coordinate with different things, you need different levels of formality and comfort. Unlike shirts, cotton pouches are cheap and easy to make once you get the hang of it. The fleece slings are a little harder to make because you need an overlock machine for the stretch stitch. Fleece is definitley a more comfortable, forgiving fabric, so I will be wearing my chocolate fleece hotsling as long as I can. Cotton can be just as comfortable when all the folds of fabric are just right, but geting it there is hit or miss especially when you're starting out. If I find I just can't get by without some serious stretchiness in my sling, there's always the SlingSet.
I can't say enough good things about Hotslings. I'm sure there are many, many other pouches now that are just as nice, but I found what I like and I'm sticking to it. I love her taste in fabric and she has excellent customer service. The other pouch I have but hasn't seen much action yet is the Mamma's Milk IAP. It's red. It's sassy. It's not warm enough for winter, which is why it's still sitting in the basket. I don't use rings slings or wraps much, but that can always change. We'll see, when the wearther gets warmer, how I get along with my Zolo, aka the Cadillac of ring slings.
Learning babywearing is a lot like learning to breastfeed. It's been a part of human history since the beginning of time, knowlege used to be passed down from more experienced women in the tribe, it used to come naturally because it was seen every day as a part of normal life. Like breastfeeding, something that looks so simple can seem hopelessly complicated when you have no one to show you the way, but once you get the hang of it, there is nothing easier, simpler, or that feels more natural. Keep trying!
P.S. If you ask lots of questions in the comments I will do an in-depth Q&A on this topic ;)