Advice and experience with a baby sling.
Using a baby sling
My experience of slinging
We had a huggababy sling that was great for us. However there are about a million different slings, approximately, so I’d suggest you find a “sling library” and try a few out. Usually the people running it will sell the slings but IME they’re very familiar with the slings and are interested as much in making sure you have a good experience slinging as anything.
Using your sling
When baby is titchy tiny you can lie them sideways, within a few weeks they should be able to be upright (depends on your and baby’s shape). Huggababy have a page showing different ways to wear their sling.
Personally I couldn’t get on with the long piece of stretchy fabric baby wrap we bought from eBay and don’t like all the straps on the “modern” style ones (like Baby Bjorn carriers). YMMV.
The shoulder sling is like wearing a messenger bag, it just goes over your head and you pull it tight once baby is in. If baby falls asleep we found you could bend down, lie them on bed/floor/sofa and slip your head out and they were less likely to wake up. I’d wear the sling on one shoulder and a regular day-sack [extend the strap and put the right-hand strap on left shoulder, or *vice versa*] with nappy stuff, food and what-not on the other shoulder.
Ours lasted for 2 kids and up until about 2 years old (as an alternative to piggy-backs on long walks). The kids rode in a buggy [3rd hand] maybe 3 or 4 times IIRC (with grandparents). The sling did get pretty tatty though as it was in use every day.
Benefits of using a sling?
These are just my impressions of course but for me there are benefits of a high degree of intimacy with your children, you’re close up, face-to-face.
You can talk together easily and as they’re learning language they can watch your facial expressions, see how your mouth and lips move to make sounds, etc.. They can easily watch you as you’re interacting with other people. I mentioned this in passing when I talked about baby sign language before.
Slings are financially cheap relative to the cost of a buggy or pushchair. They also use far less energy and materials in their construction and so are better for the environment.
Slings can go places that buggies can’t easily go: down the aisle of an aeroplane, up the walls of castle, through a bramble patch, across a river …
It’s possible to use a sling hands free. Realistically I’d say for any length of time you’re likely to find it “hand” free, or at least that’s what we found.
If you have problems with accumulating stuff then it might help not having a buggy as anything you need to take with you then needs carrying. Though you could have a cart or trolley if you want the other benefits of slinging but need (or want) to bring more stuff with you.
If you’ve got a bad back it might not be a good idea.
When they get bigger it can be quite tiring carrying them around, but that’s also more exercise for you and it encourages you to encourage them to walk and be more independent. So is that a negative?
One thing I also found was that no one would hold doors open for me. It can be hard carrying a baby, especially with a bag as well. I saw all sorts of people holding doors for people with buggies but even if I asked people would just ignore me. Also sometimes people would push past me, we live in a city, which is a bit unnerving.
Not connected with the company in any way just a happy user.
Other baby carriers and baby slings
Amazon UK and Amazon US have a large number of different slings and carriers of course but I would strongly recommend against buying one without trying it first. Ebay can be good for this sort of thing as people often do buy them without trying and decide they don’t like them!