1- Think about how you will use your baby carrier
You want your hands free? Baby suffers from colic? You have older kids to take care of or drop off at school? You suffer from back pain? You can’t get a buggy on the bus? You would like to breastfeed discreetly on the go? You have a high-need baby?
2- Research the various types of slings
Browse our articles to help you understand the various types of slings, the strengths and weaknesses of each type.
A wraparound baby sling is very versatile sling, offering endless possibilities to carry your child on your front, back and hip, and excellent support for parent and child. They are ideal if you suffer from back pain.
A ring sling uses one-shoulder carry, convenient for discreet breastfeeding on the go.
A pouch sling is very easy to use and convenient if baby is coming up and down.
A mei-tai or chinese-inspired carrier can be a great choice for toddlers, making it easy to pop baby on your back.
3- Buy from a reputable vendor
You will be carrying your baby in that sling: his or her safety is paramount. The choice of fabric, the way it’s seamed or hemmed, tested by lots of mums in different situations. Buy from a vendor with a proven track record, don’t go for a bargain at the expense of your baby’s safety. Don’t hesitate to ask questions to your vendor, how they choose their fabric, how the slings are tested for comfort. Does it come with their own set of instructions or do they refer you to someone else’s site? Will they be available to help you once you’ve received your sling? Do they comply with the Trading Standard Regulations on distance selling?
4- Choose a colour you like
It sounds vain but chances are you will be wearing your baby carrier day in and day out for months or years. So choose a baby sling that’s going to make you feel good. You might want to think about your partner’s tastes. Some slings can be worn by parents of different sizes so you might have to share your new sling!
5- Read the instructions carefully
Even if you’re as instruction-challenged as I am, take the time to read the instructions on the vendor’s website. They can help you understand if this baby carrier is right for you. If the instructions aren’t clear, get in touch with the vendor, they will be interested in hearing feedback.
6- Still unsure?
Ask questions of the manufacturer. Tell them how you would like to use your sling, how old and how heavy your child is, if you have older children, if you suffer from back pain… They have been using their slings for years, testing it in all kinds of situations. Most manufacturers have a team of testers of mums of different sizes with children in a wide age range, they should be able to advise you whether their sling is the best suited for you.
7- Rent a sling before you buy
You can rent a sling for a couple of weeks, allowing you to give the sling a try before you buy. You can find your local Sling Library or Sling Meet on our interactive map.
8- Consider buying a sling second hand
Buying slings second hand can be a very good way to start into the world of baby slings. Well-known brands hold their value and are easy to resell. Some baby slings – like German style wraps – are actually easier to use when they’ve been used and the fabric has softened.
9- Meet up with parents in your area
Use the Sling Meet forum to locate parents in the area. Tell us where you are and what sling you would like to try. If you’re not sure, just tell us how you would like to carry your child. We will help you locate someone locally to help you make a choice.
10-Take your time!
Now, you have your sling and your instructions. Take your time, don’t try to rush through it, you didn’t learn to drive in one day. Learning to carry your child is similar to breastfeeding, so natural and yet we need to re-learn the art of carrying our children. Choose the carry that appeals the most and practice step by step. If you don’t seem to get on with your sling, don’t rush to buy another one, it takes time to get used to. Be patient.
And now it’s your turn!
Tell us what you wished you had known before you bought your first sling. This article has been written by listening to the experiences of several parents. If you have any other advice for a first time baby wearer, just email us, we’ll be happy to add to this list