I was so excited when Charlene asked me to write a guest post. Then the panic set in. What was I going to write about? Was there really anything useful I could offer her readers in terms of advice or life experience? I'm a first time mum with a 10 month old baby and although I have lots of ideas on how I want to parent, I quiver at the thought of telling anyone else what to do.
I was about to send Charlene an email telling her I had moved to Timbuktu and would never blog again when clarity struck. There was one thing I could unashamedly write about. My one piece of personal advice that I have no qualms about sharing. It’s very simple:
Get a ring sling. Practice using it. Keep it in your changing bag.
Don't worry, it won't turn you into a granola mum overnight and yes, there are patterns that scream "stylish" rather than "hippie". I'm not telling you to throw out your pram or cosleep with your baby on a giant futon (what weirdo would do that....whoops, that would be me!). Just buy a cheap ring sling and give it a whirl. Even if you’ve tried another sort of carrier and thrown your hands up in frustration because it was so bulky/your baby hated it/difficult to put on, please give the humble ring sling another try. The things are just so darn practical:
They fit in your changing bag. No other baby carrier I know is so compact.
You can put it on and insert the baby all by yourself without help and without having to put the baby down. This is a major advantage if you want to be out and about on your own with your baby.
All carriers these days have multiple positions but the ring sling is the only one where you can switch positions with the baby in place (i.e. sitting up to lying down when baby wants to nap)
It's easy to slip off once baby is asleep so you can put him down!!! Ok, a sleeping newborn huddled up to your chest is very cute, but sometimes you might need the loo or just five minutes to yourself...with a ring sling you can put the baby down and slip the sling over your head. Bonus feature: baby is already covered by a light blanket!
Even if you never wear your baby, a ring sling has so many other uses: as a picnic blanket, a sun shield in the car, to fasten baby into a dodgy restaurant high chair, as a blanket, burp cloth and to catch general bodily fluids, to cover your shoulders in the sun,… The older my baby boy gets the more uses I find.
Babywearing is often touted to have numerous benefits for mother and baby, from closer bonding to easier breastfeeding. Sometimes I feel the babywearing community oversells things a bit: using a sling is not going to make you a better parent, prevent your baby from crying or promote world peace. However, in my experience it can make it easier to get out of the house and do the things you loved to do before the baby came along. Baby can observe from the sling, sleep and nurse while mum has a cup of coffee with friends, a walk in the park or even a meal in a restaurant. For me it means being able to attend to my baby's needs while getting on with life rather than being stuck at home, slave to nap and feeding times.
I could go on and on (and tend to do so on my own blog!) but I think you've got the gist: get a ring sling.
Either from here or here. If you don't know how to use it go here or ask me a question in the comments. I'd be more than happy to help out.
Julie Dutra is mostly a mother and occasionally a writer living in Portugal with her husband and baby. She blogs at happymamahappybaby.net and can be found on Twitter (@JulieGDutra) and Facebook.