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I've got it, now what do I do with it?Wearing Your Sling

It’s important to take a few minutes to read through the enclosed directions and tips. There are a lot of great videos showing how to use a ring sling on YouTube (I particularly like Wrapping Rachel), but the ASTM-required warnings on your sling and the other tips in these wearing directions can be helpful as well.

Before you  begin

Washing and drying

I recommend washing and drying the sling before using it. Most fabrics, even organic ones, retain some residues from the manufacturing process. Washing will remove them before you use the carrier with your baby, just as with your baby’s clothes. Each sling is cut to account for expected shrinkage, so it won’t be the correct length until after washing.

All of the slings I sell can be machine washed in cold and medium dried with your regular laundry. The sling should be unthreaded before washing. To keep the rings from rattling around in the drier, cover them with a sock, or wrap a burp cloth around them and tie the ends. The color is part of the metal, so it won’t chip off during normal use. However, avoid using whiteners like Oxyclean, which can damage the finish.

Caring for your baby sling:

I take great pride in the craftsmanship of my slings, and sew each one as though I would be using it myself. As such, I am confident that my slings will stand up ably to normal use. However, the following precautions are always necessary:

  • Please examine the stitching at the rings each time you use the sling to insure it is secure.
  • Keep in mind that with heavy use and frequent washing, every fabric will eventually show signs of wear. If you’re using an older sling (particularly a used one) or one made with a delicate material, please look it over each time before using it.
  • Any heavily worn spot may tear when stressed, so please discontinue use if your sling develops a threadbare spot, tear, or hole. Failure to do so may result in serious injury to your child.
Practice makes perfect!
Female-presenting caregi ver with curly-haired baby looking out from a bright turquoise ring sling

If you can, try the sling with an experienced user first. Peer to peer babywearing groups can be found in nearly every major city, and are staffed with volunteers who have been trained to help, and certified babywearing instructors also practice in many locations around the world. A midwife, doula, lactation consultant, community support organization, or a friend who has used a sling can also be a great resource.

If in-person help isn’t available, there are some terrific videos on YouTube. Those produced by babywearing organizations or consultants trained by the Center for Babywearing Studies (CBWS) are usually the most reliable.

Try practicing using the sling with a heavy, baby-sized object (such as a bag of flour or rice in a zippered plastic bag, a weighted doll, or even a pet, if it will comply) before trying it with your child. The more confident you are when using it, the less anxiety your baby will pick up.

It’s always best to try something new with a baby when they’re well-rested and just fed. The temptation to try the sling for the first time as a last resort is understandable, but when you’re already both frustrated, trying to figure out this new thing will usually just end in more tears.

What if my baby cries?
Female-presenting caregiver with long red-orange hair holds fussy-looking infant in a parchment-colored ring sling

Try a position you know your baby likes in-arms. The sling is just a tool to support your baby. Hold the baby comfortably, and then tighten the sling around them, so that the fabric keeps them in the same position.

A newborn’s airway needs to be clear to help them feel comfortable and safe. Be sure they are correctly positioned, as shown in the enclosed directions and in the warnings on the back. No matter what position you use (and this includes in other baby holding devices, like infant car seats and bouncers), the baby’s chin should never be tucked against their chest. This compresses their airway and can lead to oxygen deprivation. In any device, if the baby starts to make grunting or wheezing noises, reposition them so that their airway is straight.

Some babies will cry no matter what. My first was colicky when he was new, and so sometimes he also cried in the sling. However, I felt much better about his crying when I was actually holding him, in the sling or in arms, than I did allowing him to cry alone. Even though he was crying, at least he was with me. Explore all the different holds before giving up, and if all else fails, wait a couple of months -- babies change quickly!

Next: Threading and putting on your sling

 

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