I’m cheating a bit with this blog post – it’s a copy of an article that I had published on the “more than Mummies” website!
So what’s a sling consultant anyway?
Many parents love the idea of being able to hold their baby close to them. The best way to do this and remain hands-free is to use a sling – but which one?
The question I am asked most often as a sling consultant is “Which sling do you recommend?” The short answer to this is “I don’t!”
What I do recommend is that you try some slings before you decide. You wouldn’t buy a dress for a special occasion without a fitting, so why would you buy a sling without trying it on first? People come in all shapes and sizes, so do clothes, and so do slings. The sling that is the most magically comfortable for one parent and their baby may be the most uncomfortable or difficult to use for their neighbour.
There is a limited choice of slings and baby carriers available on the High Street, and even then it can be hard to tell by looking at them whether they are going to be comfortable and supportive for you and your baby. There is a much greater range of slings available through the internet, and looking at pictures it’s even harder to tell if a sling will suit you.
This is where sling consultants come in!
Sling consultants (also known as babywearing consultants), have been popular in Europe for many years, and are now increasing in numbers in the UK, thanks to consultant training schools. Most consultants are self-employed and independent of any manufacturer or franchise, so are free to demonstrate and teach the use of any type of sling.
I keep a large selection of slings that are available for people to try on, either with a doll the same size and weight as a newborn, or with their own child. I don’t sell every type of sling in my demo collection – there are far too many – but they are all easy to obtain, if not from myself then online from vendors in the UK. As well as giving you the chance to try the slings, I can provide you with information about different types of sling, their pros and cons, what will fit in with particular lifestyles or challenges – basically, I have done all the hard work and research for you, leaving you with the fun of trying them. In particular, many people like the idea of woven wraps, but find them a bit daunting – sling consultants are trained in teaching people how to use wraps. I wish there had been one around when I was first learning wrapping!
There has never been a better time to see and try slings before you buy them. 2011 and 2012 saw an explosion in the numbers of sling consultants, sling libraries and sling meets in the UK. Sling meets vary in structure, but here in Edinburgh we’re a bit like an informal baby and toddler group – a place to have a chat, a cuppa, see what lovely slings your friends have bought, and help people out with any problems they might be having. Sling libraries usually have a range of carriers available for hire, so you can take them home and put them through their paces for a couple of weeks. If you’re lucky enough to have a sling vendor nearby, many of them offer “try before you buy” appointments.
For a consultant local to you, try TrageschuleUK or the British Association of Babywearing Instructors. For more information on sling resources near you, have a look at the UK Sling Libraries Network and Slingmeet .
If you’re lucky enough to live in Edinburgh, book an appointment to come and see me at http://www.showmeslings.co.uk , or keep an eye on my Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/ShowMeSlings for free demos around town!
Why not look for your local sling resources today? Treat yourself to a safe, comfortable and well-fitting sling – your baby (and your back!) will thank you for it!