Should we use a baby wrap?
New parents in Scotland are now offered a free 'Baby Box' courtesy of the Scottish Government. This box contains everything you need to keep your little one safe and cared for in the first few weeks of their life. Included in this box is a one-way stretchy wrap, we ask new mum, Hannah, to tell us how she and her family got on with this sling.
“Are you prepared? was a common question that filled me with doubt before Morris was born. As a new Mum-to-be, I faced a lot of unknowns and worries. The reality was, that I didn't know, what I didn't know, and how I was to prepare for the most life-altering event was a complete mystery to me.
I knew I was meant to start thinking about packing my hospital bag (what would I need for such an unknown experience?), collecting baby clothes (what size would he be?), purchase a crib/moses basket/co-sleeper (which one would he most likely sleep in?) and think about how we would move him around (with the choice of prams/travel systems/slings/carriers seemingly endless, which one should we invest in?)
Discovering Scottish Baby Box Scheme
There is a lot of advice out there, and decision-making has never been my strongest suit, so I was very thankful for the Scottish Government's Baby Box Scheme. A fantastic initiative, the Baby Box provided the basics we needed to welcome and care for Morris in the first few weeks of his life. When it arrived, I was able to relax a little and gain some confidence in knowing that I was one step closer to being more 'prepared', for I knew not what ...
The most used and appreciated item in the Baby Box has been the stretchy fabric baby sling. With the decision on which pram to get looking as complex as buying a new car, my husband Ross and I were keen to carry Morris for as long as we could. To 'prepare,' one evening, we took it in turns to try it on, following the step-by-step page of illustrations provided in the Box. Ross's confidence, coupled with the fact that friends had lent us alternative slings, meant that I felt positive about our decision to give babywearing a go.
When Morris arrived, Ross used the Baby Box sling almost immediately. After arriving home on Christmas Eve, he and Morris went for their first trip out on Christmas morning, giving me some much-needed time to rest up soaking in the bath. For the first few weeks, the Baby Box sling was definitely Ross's favourite of all our slings (he wore it most of the time, whether Morris was in it or not!), whereas I felt that the one we had with straps, clips and buckles, was more 'substantial'. It was not until the other slings began to hurt my back, that I began to favour the stretchy wrap.
Baby Carrying Benefits
Since then, the benefits of wearing Morris in the Baby Box sling have been:
- Closeness: Carrying Morris has helped both Ross and I bond with him. We've both enjoyed having him close to us, which was comforting for us all during the 'fourth trimester'.
- Warmth: Having a baby in the winter (and surviving the 'Beasts from the East') was chilly, but wearing Morris has meant that body warmth has been shared and whoever's wearing him is sure that he's not getting too cold.
- Sleep: The sling has been of the few aids we have had to help Morris sleep during the day. He is prone to overtiredness, so we found it very useful to be able to walk out with him so that he can nap in the sling. The sling acts as a swaddle, suppressing his strong Moro reflex, and the motion of walking, coupled with our warmth and the sound of us, has proved a great way to soothe him to sleep.
- Ease: We are fairly short on space in our house and we have steps up to our front door, so being able to easily step out with Morris has been very freeing for Ross and myself. I feel that I can go anywhere (off road!) with the sling on and find navigating the shops, much less stressful than when using a pram. I also have use of both my hands, which is useful for shopping/brolly carrying etc.
- Comfort: As mentioned, other varieties of sling soon put strain on my back, however, the fabric of the stretchy sling can be pulled across the shoulders, which spreads the weight, and there is also support around the waist. Additionally, Morris is held in so tight, so his weight becomes part of my body mass and not a counter-weight which it did in some slings where he was positioned further away from my body. Morris is also very comfortable in the sling – his legs are in the recommended 'M' position which is good for his joints, and we have also found that the upright position has helped with wind and reflux as he is often sick when laid flat.
Alongside these benefits, Ross and I have just enjoyed carrying Morris so much. We now are looking forward to continuing carrying him for as long as is practical, or, for as long as Morris likes – he's the boss!
Moving on from a Stretchy Wrap
The Oscha wrap is beautiful – soft and attractive to look at – and, for me, makes a nice change from the grey of the Baby Box sling.
Starting with a stretchy wrap is a wonderful way to get into babywearing, you get to experience the benefits of holding your little one close while being hands free to get on with everyday life. With stretchy wraps really only suitable until about 6 months, if you have loved carrying your little one in a stretchy wrap, then a woven baby wrap could be a great choice for your family.
Stronger and more supportive than a stretchy, wovens are able to carry your little one from newborn through to toddlerhood.
Continue reading to find out how Hannah found the transition from a stretchy to a woven wrap.
Though I thought I would find the Front Wrap Cross Carry the easiest, as it was the closest to the Baby Box wrap, I have actually found the Front Cross Carry the most comfortable. I think the reason for this, is that I can get the tension better with this style. Rather than just a means of transporting Morris, I have used the sling as a tool to help him sleep while we're out and about.
The Baby Box sling is perfect for this, as due to the stretch, I can pull the outer pass up over to support his head and block out any goings-on around us. In trying to recreate this with the Oscha sling, I found that with the FCC it was easier to transition Morris from being awake to asleep as the width of the fabric enables me to pull one of the shoulder passes over his head at naptime.
On the note of napping, I am glad that I chose the design of sling that I did, as the weight of the fabric and the colour acts well to block out most of the sunshine that we're (finally!) experiencing. This helps Morris to get more of a substantial rest, though I think that with the age that he now is, we will see him nap less and less in the sling as he needs less sleep during the day and becomes more alert to the environment around him.