• Zoe

10 reasons why slings/carriers are like cars


Say what??!? Bare with me......

At library sessions and in one to one sessions with clients, I often talk about slings/carriers using metaphors and analogies. I find this can help people to understand better the thing that I am talking about. Often many people I meet know very little about slings/carrying and it can help to link it to a topic that you know something about already, that you are familar with.

To make the unfamilar - familar.

1. There are many different types and variations on the market

There are so many car brands out there. I bet even if you don't know much about cars you will be able to name at least a couple!

There are also many sling/carrier brands out there! And again you may know a couple of them.

It is likely the ones you know are the ones that have big marketing budgets or are in big retailers. Does this mean the others are rubbish? Not necessarily!

Many sling/carrier companies are small and don't have the budgets of the larger companies. The more familar a brand is to you, the more likely it is that you will buy that one. Especially if it is stocked by a trusted company such as John Lewis for example. But slings are fairly low cost in the world of baby parapernalia and people typically buy one or two so there is little turnover of these items. Most stores will only stock a few types and the big brands often have stipulations that you only stock them or you need to stock their entire range for example.

The high street and many mainstream retailers are not representative of the amazing offering of the whole sling market.

There are some specialist shops that stock a large range but many sling retailers are online only.

2. There is not one that is "the best"

This is by far the most frequently asked question I hear. Which sling is the best? Well it is like asking which car is best? It really depends on what is important to you about this item. It is hugely subjective.

And what is best for one family may not be best for yours. Would you buy a car just because your friend has one and they say so?! Perhaps but not without checking some things about it out first.

What do we mean by best?

- Best value for money

- Best top speed

- Best fuel ecomony

- Best 0-60 time

- Best boot space

It really depends!

3. Everyone has different preferences as to what features are important

So what features matter to your friend may not be as important to you. For some a 2 seater sports car will, for others a 7 seater. Some people like air conditioning and a usb plug. Some want highest safety records. Ultimately it depends on what you want from it.

In terms of slings some people have a very clear budget others aren't bothered. Some want plain some want patterned some want it to be simple without many adjustments to make, some want it to fit newborn to toddler and to fit a 5ft person and a 6ft person so these are considerations that will impact your options.

4. You can just walk in and buy a car, the dealer doesn't teach you to drive.

They are there to sell to you. You use a driving instructor to learn to drive. to gain skills.

Many that sell slings/carriers are not necessarily trained in slings/carriers! Especially if you are going to large stores that sell lots of items for babies and children they are unlikley to have very much knowledge about the particular individual slings/carriers in stock. Specialist shops and retailers such as Wear My Baby and MotherRucker, SouthEast Slings for example are owned and run by carrying consultants!

So whereever you buy your sling/carrier from you might find it useful to use someone who is trained in carrying to help you get the best out of it.

5. As your needs and your child's needs change you may need to change what you use

Trying to find a sling/carrier that is going to work from newborn to toddler is not easy as it needs to be hugely adjustable for the different and varying needs. Just like as you change car seats for example!

We used to have a 3 door car before children and when our baby was born we quickly realised it was a pain getting the baby in and out so we soon changed and bought a 5 door car. Our needs changed so we changed what we used. The same applies to slings/carriers. Yes we could have carried on using the 3 door car but it was frustrating and annoying and so by changing the car it made things much easier for us!

A stretchy wrap is amazing for the fourth trimester and newborn days but as your child grows you may find it isn't as supportive. There are things we can do to help adjust what you are using (such as arms out for older ones, shoulder flips to see better), or we may suggest trying other slings/carriers to see if there is something better suited to your needs. Trying to find something that is going to work across many stages and different needs often means it has compromises along the way.

6. Some people don't have cars and some people have more than one

You do not have to limit yourself! Many seem to think that you only need one sling/carrier to do it all when in fact you may find you prefer different slings/carriers for different situations or scenarios.

More than one simply gives you more options, perhaps different sling for different people doing the carrying. For example, my husband had his one and I had a different one! We each had our own preferences.

Also I find it super handy to have a sling/carrier that is in the car so when we go out we always have one to hand as it is quite easy to forget when leaving the house in a rush!

Also you may find you have a type you tend to use at different points of the year such as a solar integra in the summer and a denim one in the winter! or a thin woven in the summer and a thicker one in the winter. Slings/carriers are a lot cheaper than cars ;)

7. Some are cheap and some are expensive

There is a large range of prices of cars just as there are with slings/carriers. Are the super expensive ones better than cheaper ones?

No not always, some of it is buying into the brand, the prestige that comes with say a Bentley or Aston Martin but does that make it better than a Ford Focus? It depends on your budget and what is important to you but just because a sling is more expensive doesn't make it better than cheaper ones.

8. They all do the same job

Whether it is a car or a sling they are both used for moving from place to place.

All cars get you from A to B, just as all slings/carriers are meant to help you carry your child. However, they may vary in how they do this, in terms of comfort and safety.

You may find a narrow based carier works well when baby is newborn but then your back starts to ache as it doesn't fully support baby knee to knee as they grow. Just like some cars are better around town than say on the motorway. It depends on what you need it to do.

9. You can buy new or second-hand

Both cars and slings/carriers can be bought new direct or from other retailers as well as also buying second hand. As with both you need to check it has been used appropriately and is safe to use. Checking key parts - on a sling/carrier this would be the stitching on straps and buckles and things like buckles.

10. They are both a tool you can use when you choose

It isn't all or nothing when it comes to using a car. Sometimes I walk into town, sometimes I use the car, sometimes I use my bike or fly, it depends on many factors such as where I am travelling to and how much time I have and what else I may need to transport (such as a small bag of shopping versus a big monthly shop!). The same applies to using slings/carriers. You do not need to exclusivley use a sling/carrier, you can use a buggy and take the sling with you in case it is of use and swap. For slings/carriers often the only restrictions we place on their use are the ones we have in our heads.

You test drive a car so why not test drive a sling/carrier?

This is exactly why sling libraries and consultants are so helpful, as they can help you test drive and find out what features you want or don't want and help you work out what is going to be "the best" sling/carrier for you and your child.

Are there any other good analogies you can think of? Let me know :)

Zoe is a trained and insured carrying consultant based in the Surrey Hills area. She runs the Dorking NCT Sling library as well as The Sling Consultancy offering one to ones and workshops on all aspects of carrying. She travels to clients in and around the Surrey, Sussex and outer London areas. As well as working for brands, she writes and speaks on the neuroscience of carrying and shares the science behind why carrying is so important.

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